Irish Rugby Player and PE Teacher, Eimear Considine is the embodiment of hard work and determination. Swapping Gaelic football for rugby at age 23 saw Eimear learning the sport from scratch and going on to play for her country. We caught up with her to find out more about her sporting background, her transition into rugby and how COVID has affected her training.
So Eimear, how did you first get into sport?
I started when I was very young playing in the back garden with my brother and sister. I was actually very bad at sports, but I grew up in a sporting environment, so I joined my local Gaelic football team and athletics teams, and from there I played pretty much every sport under age from Gaelic and camogie to basketball and volleyball until I was 16 when I had to choose which sport I wanted to continue with. From there I played Gaelic football for my home county, Clare. I then took up rugby at 23 and have been playing ever since.
How did you end up playing rugby, when you had decided to pursue Gaelic football?
It was completely random. I had studied PE & Irish at University of Limerick and then after college I got a job teaching PE in Dublin. I played camogie and football, but the commute was too far to go during the week for both sports. It had started to become less enjoyable, then I randomly saw a LinkedIn message with the title ‘Olympic Opportunity’. I wanted to qualify for Olympics so probably would have replied, whatever sport it was for! After a few trials, one on ones and fitness tests with the coaches, I started in the Ireland 7’s. I didn’t know anything about rugby so was taught everything from the ground up. I played 7’s for 2 years and then joined the 15’s squad in 2017 and have played for them since.
How much time do you dedicate to training and how do you find a balance?
It is challenging, especially as a lot of games are abroad so I need to take time off work. I’ve been working in my school for 7 years now and thankfully the staff and principal are really supportive and let me go away to play so I don’t need to worry too much when I am gone.
I train every Tuesday at the gym and pitch which is only 15 minutes from my work. We also train on Friday, Saturday and Sunday so I don’t need to take any days off work for training and luckily the facility is very close to where I live in Dublin. So, really my only free time is Monday evening or Wednesday evening so it is hard to get stuff done. I find myself putting life on hold when training for the 6 Nations, you actually don’t think of anything else but life goes on and when you come back to work, there is a mountain to catch up on! You have to almost separate your life when you play for 6 Nations as it has to be your sole focus and try to put your job to the back of your mind.
What is the most demanding aspect?
The training itself is easy to do once I’m there. The IRFU facility has unbelievable equipment. Before COVID we were able to bring our family there to see and experience where we spend almost every weekend of our lives. We have great coaches and a great facility to train in. I would say the hardest part is the time when you’re not training or at work, as you’re so tired. All you want to do is relax and watch TV. It can be difficult to make time for friends and family as you don’t have a lot of free time, especially at weekends.
How has COVID affected your training?
It was quite difficult during the lockdown. I was in a bubble with my team so we had to be super strict and got tested twice a week. We had to keep our bubbles really small which meant sacrificing spending time with friends and family which was hard. I wasn’t able to have lunch with my work colleagues so had it by myself in the gym most days. It was lonely but I kept thinking about the bigger picture that I am going to play for my country.
When COVID first hit, all training stopped completely so I went home to Clare, and was surrounded by just green fields in the countryside. It was nice to slow down as it was right in the middle of 6 Nations and we had mock exams in school so it was nice to have a break. It was lovely being able to slow down for a while but it’s really great being back now.
How do you stay motivated and what drives you?
I am competitive by nature across all aspects of my life. I want to be good at everything- be good at my sport, be a really good teacher and get everything done on time. My pot of gold at the end of the rainbow is that I get to play rugby for my country. Only 15 girls get to step on to the field which is an honour in itself. During lockdown, it was difficult, but I just kept thinking of how I want to be out there singing the national anthem. That’s my why. I want to represent my country.
So what is your favourite sporting moment?
That’s a hard one because I’ve played so much sport my entire life! I would say the most memorable for me is when we won the county final in 2019 with my hometown. It probably isn’t a big deal to the outside world but we had been trying for 10 years after last getting to the final in 2009, against the same team. It was such a special moment for my family and the community. My sister was playing too and got player of the match.
Obviously there are much bigger moments like scoring tries and playing rugby for my country, but I had grown up wanting to play for my home county and my dream was to win a county final. I’m so grateful I ended up playing rugby but it wasn’t a dream I had when I was younger, it just kind of happened but I’m glad it did.
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