Teams represented: Limerick Ladies Football & Camogie, Murroe/Boher Ladies football & camogie, UL Ladies Football.

Age: 23

Occupation: PhD Student

Hobbies: Training, eating and watching TV/Movies when I can!

BeYouBelong Profile:

Any big memories from teenage years?
Most of my memories involved running around my cousins’ farm, hiking through streams, falling over gates and racing through fields in wellies nearly breaking ankles!

Any challenges you’ve faced?
In March of 5th year of secondary school I tore my cruciate playing with Limerick Ladies football. We travelled to Antrim and within the first 20 seconds I felt my knee buckle. The next few months were torture, not knowing for sure if it was my cruciate or how long I would be out for. Once we found out it was my cruciate at least we could do something about it. I got surgery the week before my summer tests and then started into my rehab. Those 6 months were the hardest I’ve ever had. I had to go to watch my teams play all summer while I was delighted with being able to run straight lines. I remember the day the physio put me on the treadmill for the first time, I smiled for all 20 minutes of the run! That year the Limerick ladies football team won the Junior All Ireland and I had to do water for the team. I played my first game back in February the next year with my school football team. We weren’t any use and we lost 12-12 to 0-1, but being back on the pitch with a fully functioning knee meant I smiled walking off the pitch. 11 months out, 8 and half months of rehab in the gym, pool and on the pitch have meant I haven’t had a problem with my knee since.

Who influenced you growing up?
My parents and my big brother have always supported me and we had many a training session/match/all out brawl in the back garden! My big brother single handedly got me on a Primary Game football team when I was in 4th class, all from back yard football. We would cycle to the pitch and play hurling and football, he was the one who showed me I only needed a bit of space to get the shot off. My parents always have, and still do, travel to the vast majority of my matches. When I was younger, playing on the boy’s team in primary school, Mom would come to the pitch during lunch and be one of very few parents on the sideline. She still does the same, follows me up and down the country, and depending on the day, would have Dad in tow!!! My extended family are all into GAA which always made it easier, talk would be of matches and how training is going and everyone was always proud of our achievements.
What changed as a teenager / through your playing career?
I started playing at adult level in the club when I was about 14 and since then I have been able to improve and become a leader both on and off the pitch for the teams. The early introduction to adult teams dragged up my standard and strength. I didn’t have many options but to stand up and be counted when I was playing on those teams. Starting adult intercounty at 16 introduced me to a new standard, one which I had to meet. These early introductions to a higher standard gained me invaluable experience which have shaped me as a player and a person.

Describe yourself as a 16 year old?
16 year old me was all about training and sport. I started playing adult intercounty football and was overwhelmed by the height and strength of the rest of the girls!! I was in TY of school and was loving every minute of it. I was outgoing and enjoyed the mix of learning and messing during the year.

Describe yourself now and how you’ve changed?
I feel I have begun to take more of a leadership role within teams. I have captained my club teams and feel I have become a leader within both our county and college teams. Becoming a WGPA rep has helped me to step up with the off-the-field activities and has helped me to take more responsibility with the on-the-field activities as well. Over the past few years I have also found out I have to look after myself. When I was younger I could train every day and there wouldn’t be an issue, but as I got older I realized I had to monitor and control my own training loads. Managers of teams don’t monitor my training loads so I found out I had to control it myself, I found it out the hard way but now I make sure I have rest periods during the week by taking training sessions off. I also learned through college how to balance assignments, training sessions and social activities. Going to college in my home county meant I still attended club and county trainings during the week. This meant that I had to learn to balance college work with trainings and ensure I had timetabled my work. This is different to secondary school since in school the work had to be done by the next day while in college the work doesn’t have to be done until a few weeks’ time so timetabling became even more important. Making time for friends and family is also very important and I think in college you realize that. Outside of teams, friends can get frustrated with me constantly training, so making sure that you hang out with your friends is also important. It allows you to relax outside of trainings and makes sure you have an outlet in case you get injured or something and need another source of support off the field.

Tell us about your journey in your playing career? Any defining moments / people / matches?
I started playing camogie and football out in the back yard with my brother and parents, it’s where I learnt all the basic skills. We had a local camogie club so I joined them from a young age. When I went to primary school I played camogie and ladies football there. I made a primary game football team in 4th class, my first time representing the Limerick jersey. In primary school one of the teachers approached me about joining a nearby Ladies Football club, which I did from u12. When I was u14 I made the Limerick Cailíní Óga football team which won the Munster championship. I played on the u16 and minor county football teams all the way along, without much success!! I was also a member of the Limerick Colleges camogie team from u14 to u16. We won a Minor B All Ireland in Camogie in 2009, the same year I joined the Limerick Ladies Football and camogie adult teams. That year we made the Junior Football final in Croke Park but lost. The same year, with club, we won the Junior B county football title, after extra time. It was that year that my club manager gave me more responsibility on the pitch and he molded into somewhat of a leader on the pitch, even if I was only 16! In 2010 I was a member of both county squads but tore my cruciate in March which ruled me out of the remainder of the season. That year the Ladies Footballers lost the Division 4 league final and won the Junior All Ireland while I watched on. In 2011 I was doing my Leaving Cert and having been out injured the previous season I wasn’t going to miss a moment of training or games. I worked hard to balance school and sports. I continued to play both codes, without much success in either. In school they started a ladies football team which I joined for the craic. We got hammered in our first game in the Munster D division, so a Munster E competition was formed and we won that!! In 2012, I dropped off the Limerick Camogie team as I was finding it too difficult to balance all the training sessions and just couldn’t find the time to commit. The Ladies Footballers lost out yet again in a Division 4 final, this time to Longford. Also in 2011/12 I started college and became a member of the UL O’Connor Cup and Ashbourne Cup teams. My Dad always said that playing with UL would show how good I really was, mixing with some of the best players in the country, if I could hold my own there I would finally get his stamp of approval!!! I started on both the O’Connor Cup and Ashbourne Cup teams that year. In 2013, I moved to The Netherlands for 9 months, for co-op with college, and played camogie and football with the Holland Ladies team. At the time I was falling out of love with the sports, there was too much politics involved for my liking, around then I was becoming more of a leader on the pitch with my club and county teams and was realizing the politics that go on and I didn’t like it. When I decided to go abroad for my co-op I wasn’t sure whether or not I wanted to play camogie and ladies football, but I decided to, as it wouldn’t be as serious. Playing both those sports in The Netherlands made me fall back in love with them. I had such a positive experience travelling Europe with the same group of girls and lads playing GAA. They were social events in Europe and the craic had can’t be compared to. When I came back from co-op, in 2014, I plunged straight back into the college and county scenes, in hindsight that was a bad idea, I pulled something in my hip in one of the first games and that had me out for the start of the county league campaign and college championship campaigns. That year UL won both the Ashbourne and O’Connor Cups and my local club, Murroe/Boher, started an adult ladies football team. My club at the time were beginning to struggle with numbers so I transferred home. The club had been working hard with underage teams and bringing some experience back to the club gave a good mix which set us on the road to winning the Junior Club All Ireland, on the way travelling to Maastrict in The Netherlands to play Belgium, a team and players which I would have known extremely well from my time playing in Europe. In 2015, I was determined to get back into the UL teams. Yet again I fell out of love with college camogie so I dropped off the Ashbourne Cup panel. I was moved to centre back on the UL football team and we won the O’Connor Cup. Yet again Limerick Ladies Footballers lost the Division 4 final, this time to Offaly. The week before the final I pulled my hamstring. I rehabbed it for the week coming up to the final, and it felt good during the warm up, however, once we started a kicking drill it went again, so yet again I watched from the sidelines. 2015 was a great year for our club camogie team, we won the intermediate league and championship, something we had been working towards for years. In 2015/16 I started my PhD in UL so was eligible to play O’Connor Cup football again where we lost out in the final. I have rejoined the Limerick camogie team and am loving it. We made the Division 1 semifinals where we lost out to Galway by a point. In football we are through to yet another Division 4 final, this time against Antrim, hopefully that one will go better!!

Quick Q’s:

Typical weekly training / game schedule:
Monday: Club camogie training
Tuesday: Club football training
Wednesday: County football/camogie training
Thursday: Club football training
Friday: County football/camogie training
Saturday & Sunday: Matches for some/all teams!
At some stage I would take a day or 2 off, depending on games at the weekend.

Favourite Manager(s), and why?:
Fiona McHale & DJ Collins in UL. Always brought a great mix of football and fitness to training sessions. Enthusiasm oozing out of both for us to succeed. Fiona always ran focused and challenging sessions while DJ would do anything for any one of us.

Sporting Hero:
Breige Corkery, the ability to play both codes at the highest level never ceased to amaze me!

Best thing about being an intercounty player:
Representing the jersey you grew up supporting can’t compare to anything.

Funniest thing to ever happen:
There are O’Connor Cup week stories that definitely should never leave the UL campus!

Hardest thing about playing at county level:
The cost of playing inter county football is astronomical! We don’t get travel expenses and sponsorship (or lack of) means we usually have to fund our own gear. No food after training means we have to fund food both before and after trainings. We also have to pay to train which adds extra costs on us.

Best piece of advice you’ve ever been given:
Take each game in 20 second segments, not the next 10 minutes. Makes keeping going so much easier.

Three words other people would use to describe you:
Courtesy of one of my best friends….. Rudest eater ever…..

What are you most proud of so far (on or off the field!):
It’s a close call between our club, Murroe/Boher, winning the junior All Ireland in Ladies Football in 2015 and winning an O’Connor Cup with UL in 2015 at centre back.