Laurie Ryan was named the inaugural winner of the WGPA Young Leader Award for 2018. This award is given as a reflection of the pursuit of excellence in a dual career (playing commitment and professional development), leadership off the field, and contribution made to the work of the WGPA. A very worthy winner, Laurie was presented at the launch of our annual scholarship programme. Here, she shares some more about her busy life.

Name: Laurie Ryan

Age: 24

Teams represented: Clare, UL, The Banner Ladies

College: University of Limerick

Course: PhD in Science Education

Laurie on…

Studies and Career:

I am doing a PhD study in Science Education, I am looking at developing a framework for science outreach programmes in Ireland. It’s a fantastic experience and I have been blessed with the opportunities I have had along the way. I get to travel to post-primary schools once a week and do science magic shows which is great as I enjoy the interaction with students, I have got to travel around Europe working on a EU Funded project and I have got to carry out workshops with secondary school teachers at various conferences. Its great that I have got to develop myself on so many different areas over such a short space of time.

In the future I don’t know what I will end up doing, whether it be teaching or public engagement only time will tell.  

Season So Far:

We had a disappointing end with the college team, unfortunately we lost by a point to an excellent DCU team. With Clare this year we are in the middle of a transition phase, we maintained division 2 status and hope to push on and put in a competitive championship.

Off the field I am in the middle of my PhD so I am under a bit of pressure to keep on top of that if I want to keep to my time frame. I hope to present some of my data this summer at a conference in Warsaw so I am under pressure to get all my data collected. No matter how many presentations I do on my PhD I still get very nervous.

Down Time:

I think anyone that knows me would say that I try spending as much time with my friends and family. I go home every weekend and I live with my nana, so when I am not training or busy with college we often try do something together. My best friend Jack is another person who I go travelling around Ireland with any spare time I get. I really enjoy going to the coast so that is my go to spot anytime I am free.

During the week when I have a night off I am lucky that my housemates in college are great, the two lads Joey and Brendan are mad in to sport, and both are doing PhDs as well so we understand how important it is to just get away from the football and study. We would try our hand at any sport for the laugh but we would often just go to the pitch and have a puck around, and its safe to say none of us are any good! Grace Kelly from Mayo moved in with us this year so we will have to train her up over the summer.  

Role Models:

I suppose I have been very lucky to have some fantastic people in my life, my nana has always been a role model to me and pushes me everyday to be a better person. In my sporting and professional career I would definitely look up Anne O’Dwyer. She did a PhD in Chemistry Education, Captained Tipperary and is a fantastic person. The drive she has is amazing and I had her as a lecturer in UL at one stage. I always remember the moment when I realised how much she achieved both on and off the pitch that I really decided I can push myself to achieve more. Louise Henchy definitely deserves a mention here as well, she took me under her wing my first training with Clare and I have been plaguing her ever since.

I admire honesty and hard work, I think if you have those two qualities in any aspect of your life you will achieve.  

Being WGPA Rep:

Initially, I remember the WGPA starting out and they needed two Reps from each county, the Clare captain at the time Marie Considine asked me would I be interested, and I jumped at the chance. I have been involved ever since and love it. The work undertaken from the beginning has helped develop the promotion of the game and give players a voice. Its such an enjoyable experience and I have got to meet so many great players at the reps meetings. In terms of developing players and standards within my own county the government grants has been a massive stride for us to try become a more professional setup, and there are also so many opportunities created for girls to take part such as leadership programmes and scholarships. Being a part of the WGPA group often inspires you to push yourself outside your comfort zone and try achieve more.

In Summary…

Sporting Hero: Louise Henchy

Funniest thing to ever happen: Would have to be Anna Galvin egging her own house.

Favourite team mate/player:  Louise Ward – makes me want to get better every time I talk to her.

Favourite Manager(s), and why?: DJ Collins, Fiona McHale and Neil Moynihan – they always expect the best while setting standards that everyone has to achieve. They always help players reach their potential.

Hardest thing and best thing about playing at county level:  Hardest is definitely the commitment and sacrifices that have to be made. Best would have to be the friends you make at college, county and club.

Best piece of advice you’ve ever been given: Always do what is right, not what is easy in training, life and education!

Favourite interest / talent / hobby away from GAA: Would try my hand at any sport and love being involved in science outreach events.

Three words other people would use to describe you: Committed, hardworking and happy!

What are you most proud of so far (on or off the field!): I was honoured to captain both UL and Clare. Always a privilege when you have such talented players around you. Getting to the All-ireland final in 2016.

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