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Refusal to give up has reaped the rewards for Eimear Considine

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*Eimear Consdine. Photograph: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

As a full-time secondary school teacher and Irish international, time is certainly of the essence for Eimear Considine, her colleagues have remarked she has “two different lives” and since concentrating on rugby a new chapter began in her action-packed sporting career.

It started off with rugby 7s, a message on LinkedIn from Stan McDowell enquired about her interest, it went unnoticed for a while but Eimear gladly took up the opportunity and became part of the squad aiming to qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympics. At the time she was a dual-player with Clare in ladies football and camogie, adjusting from two sports played all her life to a completely new one was difficult.

“That was so hard and I don’t think I’ll ever remember how hard it was unless I was thrown back into it again. The stage I was at with Clare, I was vice captain of the camogie team that year so I was pretty important in the team, playing well, I was at the top of my game in both and then I went from knowing everything naturally to not having a clue and being at the bottom of the pile and that was probably the hardest part, I was so used to being able to solo a ball easily without thinking or knowing where to be positionally to people roaring at you because you’re in the wrong place, it’s not that the girls were mean it’s just that in rugby you have to be very vocal in relation to who you’re tackling, who’s opposite you, who’s on your inside, who’s on your outside because it’s the system.

“I remember the first few months and I literally had tears in my eyes throughout the whole training session and I would go into the car, cry, ring mam and say ‘I’m done with this’ but she was like ‘look you can’t get good at this overnight, you have to stay, give it a go’. I remember there was one Friday night I was ready to go into a weekend camp and I rang mam saying ‘I’m done, it’s three months in I’ve had it’, we didn’t have any games and it was really hard because I was working Monday to Friday, train all weekend, do it again and again. There was just no break and I wasn’t getting home to Clare, I was 23 I was used to going home because of camogie and football but she was like ‘hold tough, it’ll be worth it’ because I was trying to qualify for the Olympics, that was the dream at the end of it and that Saturday morning Anthony Eddy called me in and gave me my contract that Saturday, it was a bit of a relief that I was safe and I wasn’t going to kicked off it. It was hard and I cried a lot and I’m not a cryer, the hardest part was not being good at something naturally and then starting all over again”.

Not alone was Considine hit by the setback of not making the Olympics but also the disappointment of not making the squad for their final qualifying games. Once she did find her feet, Eimear enjoyed sevens but admitted to The Clare Echo it caused her to burn out. “The first year it was really exciting, it was new, we were travelling to Canada, San Diego, Amsterdam and I trained every morning, I didn’t mind doing that work, train in the evening, gym in the morning, work, train in the morning, Wednesday off, gym Thursday morn, work, train Thursday eve, gym Friday eve. Wednesday was my only off and looking back I don’t know how I did it but it got to a stage where it got too much for me, I had burnout and I didn’t realise that I had it.

“After the Rio Olympics, I took a complete break from sport, that year 2016 the Clare Ladies got to the All-Ireland final against Kildare, mam and Ailish wanted me to go back playing for Clare but I had burnout and I didn’t want to go for a run or a walk, the talk of exercise made me wince, I didn’t want to be tied to it. We got a schedule with a year in advance so we knew that every year was going to be cancelled out and it was so hard, I hated not having my life and I took those two or three months off, I played a little club football with Kilmihil, got a love of sport back and played for fun as opposed to playing to qualify for the Olympics which is very different. You change everything, you change your nights out, you change who you are friends with, what you eat, who you see who you don’t see because you are constantly tired but you don’t want to go out with people, you’re trying to qualify for the Olympics at the end of the day. I fell back in love with sport again and what happened was I played with Munster, never played 15s before and then played the 6 Nations in a World Cup year and it has rolled on since then”.

Her mother, Kay has always edging her on and while they watched Ireland’s women win the 2013 Grand Slam, Eimear remarked “I could never play that game”, since then she has earned 12 international caps and is a regular Adam Griggs’ side and stressed how “glad” she is to have taken up the sport.

This year, they finished 5th in the 6 Nations and the Kilmihil woman believed their club structures, amount of departed players, lack of summer internationals and competing against semi-professionals are reasons for their regression. “We need to keep the squad that we have, there are a lot of new caps and we need to keep them, we need to get this group and bring it on a journey and bring us to that World Cup and connect us, not just chopping and changing bringing girls in to give them one cap and get rid of them again. It has to feel like a journey and bring players through”.

For a winger pace is essential, to prolong her international career the 28 year old has eyed up moving to full back. “I’ve given my life to sport, it has got me to where I am and I’m thankful of that, there comes a time when you have to go out on a good note and your own terms. I don’t want to be the person that stays around too long and is pushed out the door, I’ll stay the World Cup and you’ll never know what will happen. As a winger I’m not an out and out sprinter, I’m fast but there are some girls out there that are absolute sprinters. I am looking at myself for 15, I do want to play there, I think it’s a more versatile role and you’re a decision maker and a play maker, the kicking option is there too”.

An All-Ireland U16 High Jump winner, Eimear has also hit the heights of provincial titles in the High and Long Jump. Athletics she noted “creates a great base”, her jumping days were put on hold as her Clare careers took off, since focusing on rugby regular calls have been made for her to return to the county setups, the Glasnevin teacher admitted she can’t herself playing either ladies football or camogie for the county again. “I was saying that I would go back to a bit of club football if I have time but I don’t like being the person that dips in and out of things either. The reason I haven’t gone back in the past is I live in Dublin so I’m not going to be at training a lot and I don’t like half doing things, I’m all in or all out, that’s the way I want to be and I don’t want to be known as that flaky player, I’m all in or all out and that’s me, it’s 100 percent or it’s nothing, you either want to be the best or you don’t, if you want to give less than 100 percent then you’re not going to be your best and that’s always something I’ve stuck with”.

Her busy schedule has got more hectic since becoming a rugby pundit with TG4 “such a good experience”, her conversation with The Clare Echo takes place prior to the Clare’s senior footballers outing with Waterford with her boyfriend Dean Ryan lining out at wing-back. They travelled down to Clare together on Friday for the first time in 2019, “there is not a weekend free, for the two of us we had to get out of the country to escape sport” she said of their year spent travelling from September 2017 to the following August.

All or nothing, that’s the way it is with Eimear Considine and always will be.

Newmarket-on-Fergus native, Páraic McMahon is a freelance journalist and broadcaster currently working for numerous national and local publications including The Clare Echo, The Irish Examiner, The Irish Independent, The Irish Times, RTÉ, TheJournal.ie, The42.ie. A graduate of Mary Immaculate College, Páraic was previously employed by The Clare Herald and Clare FM. If you have a story, tip or some feedback for him then send an email to - paraic@clareecho.ie

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