Name: Donna English

Teams represented: Arva/Killeshandra, DCU, Cavan, Ulster

Age: 27

Typical weekly training / game schedule: Monday Gym, Tuesday Pitch, Wednesday Gym, Thursday Recovery Pool/flexibility, Friday Pitch, Saturday Gym or recovery depending on intensity during week, Sunday Pitch or match.

What changes / advances have you seen in the game in the last couple of years? What are the demands like on players and how would you like to see the game progressing?

Introduction of the grant system has allowed our county board to secure qualified Physio and ensured we had video analysis during the league campaign. Supports and coaching are improving, they are not at the same standard as the men’s game but I definitely see an improvement over the last ten years of playing at inter-county level. We have access to hot showers after most training and games. We also have food after midweek training sessions which is a bonus for the players that are commuting to training. I would like to see an improvement made to the Players injury fund.

Tell us about your nutrition – does it vary a lot from off season / in season / match day? Any tips?

I follow the same pattern as my partner (Gearoid McKiernan) well I try to be as disciplined as him. I aim for an 80-20 balance of good food and leave an allowance for treats at the weekend. Training days I will increase carb intake (Basmati Rice/Sweet Potato/baby potato/wholemeal bread), Non training days/recovery days I will decrease carb load and Increase protein, Extra portions of chicken/salmon/turkey/mince etc. If additional protein is needed post tough training or gym sessions I sometimes supplement my diet with a protein shake or protein milk but I usually try to count my macros and ensure I’ve got enough in each meal. I record my nutrition in my Fitness Pal app which helps me stay on track. If I don’t get enough carb sources on every training day I will feel sluggish likewise if I don’t drink enough fluids I will see it in my performance. I aim to drink 6 x 500ml Bottles of water minimum. I bring 1 500ml bottle to work and keep refilling it. A big bottle freaks me out. Prep your meals and it will make life a hell of a lot easier. When I’m working (I am a teacher so on Holidays now) I prep my meals for the week on a Sunday so I make 5 dinners and freeze them with the correct macros needed for each day. I also put away fruit/snacks and I usually bake my own granola bars from Derval O’Rourke’s book so I know what I am eating. Another snack I love is 75% dark choc, there is plenty of antioxidants in there so it can be beneficial to include in the diet. I swear by oats every morning and I mix it up with different fruit and nuts on different days.

A % of every sale of the Be Healthy loaf is going to support counselling, scholarships, personal development and careers advise for players. Sum up what recognition and support like this means to players?

I see the benefit a WGPA scholarship has had on our own Neasa Byrd, one of Cavan’s up and coming super stars. She has been excellent all year for us. It has had a huge benefit for her personally and has assisted her in academic and sporting development so by supporting the partnership and buying the bread you are directly helping a player in your county or another county benefit both academically and in their sporting career and that in turn helps their overall development into a well-rounded individual. The WGPA are always there to support the players but without funding and support from these partnerships there is only so much they can do. That is why it is fantastic that they have secured this partnership and why it is so important that everyone gets out there and buys the bread to help the players in your own county, in another county, help your niece, cousin, girlfriend, aunty, mother or sister improve her performance.

Quick Q’s:

Favourite Manager(s), and why?: Peter Clarke, scared me into being the player I am today. (In a good way)

Sporting Hero: Juliet Murphy

Best thing about being an intercounty player: The friendships

Funniest thing to ever happen: Bronagh Sheridan.

Favourite team mate/player: Ash Doonan, not only a fantastically skilled player but a Lady, a leader and someone who teaches you to be a better player.

Hardest thing about playing at county level: Balancing workload

One rule you would like to change: Pick up off the ground.

Best piece of advice you’ve ever been given: Do the simple things brilliantly

Favourite interest / talent / hobby away from GAA: Basketball

Three words other people would use to describe you: Determined, Driven, Crazy

What are you most proud of so far (on or off the field!): On the Field, Co-Captaining our all-Ireland winning team in 2013, off the field completing my degree and getting a job that I love.

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