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After taking up rugby in college, Clare GAA star set for Ireland debut

Eimear Considine chats to The42 ahead of her side’s Six Nations opener with Scotland this evening.

Eimear Considine has impressed for Munster.
Eimear Considine has impressed for Munster.
Image: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

THE IRISH WOMEN’S rugby team are a multi-talented bunch.

A number of the current squad come from a diverse sporting background.

Flanker Claire Molloy played Gaelic Football as a youngster, representing Galway in the 2005 All-Ireland Senior Ladies’ Football Championship, before giving up her GAA dreams to chase a Grand Slam with the Irish side.

Lindsay Peat, meanwhile, represented Ireland in basketball and underage soccer, as well as winning an All-Ireland football title with Dublin, before opting to focus on rugby.

And one of the newest squad members, Eimear Considine, also possesses an eclectic skillset.

The Kilmihil native has represented Clare in camogie and ladies football, while along with fellow 15s stars Niamh Briggs and Alison Miller, she was part of the Ireland Women’s Sevens team that narrowly missed out on a spot at the Rio Olympics.

The 25-year-old, who has been playing senior football with Clare since the age of 16, only took up rugby in college after being approached via the website LinkedIn — a message she unwittingly ignored at first.

“I set up a LinkedIn in college just because that’s what we were told to do,” she tells The42.

It was September and an email had been there a whole month. I emailed back straight away (when I saw it) and was just like ‘I’m still interested’. I was so thankful for the opportunity.

“I started off with fitness tests and some baseline stuff and learned all the rugby skills after that.”

Considine, who plays on the wing, was one of five uncapped players to make the 30-strong squad after impressing for Munster as well with the Ireland Sevens

In addition, she has been named on the bench for this evening’s opening Six Nations game against Scotland at the Broadway Stadium in Glasgow.

“It’s a great experience to be trying to get my first cap this weekend,” she says.

“When it’s getting closer tomorrow and we have our captain’s run, we might be getting a bit more excited. It’s calm at the moment anyway here.

I’m delighted to be on the bench, just to get any game time would be great, so I’m happy to be where I am.”

And after last year’s third-place finish, Considine is optimistic that the team can add to their two Six Nations titles won in 2013 and 2015.

“The Championship and to win that is obviously our main aim,” she explains.

But it’s a long way away, so we just have to focus on Friday night, Scotland and what’s ahead of us this weekend.

“Each week, we just need to build on performances and that all starts on Friday.

“We’ve done a bit (of analysis) on the Scottish team, but we’ve mostly been focusing on our own gameplay and strengths.

“We played (in a warm-up game against) Wales last weekend, so it’s just about focusing on what we can improve on as a squad.”

Her GAA background, Considine says, was a good starting point for her burgeoning rugby career.

I suppose there are similar skills as well with ball work and catching, so it really is something that did help me coming into rugby. It was really good to have that as a base before I learnt all the rugby skills.”

Gaining experience with the Sevens over the past two years was also hugely beneficial.

“It taught me all the skills. There was no real room to make mistakes. There was so much space. You had to make tackles. It was about making 15 or 30 tackles in a match, whereas out on the wing in a 15-person game, you may only do three. You really get to use all the skills of the game all the time when you’re on the pitch with the Sevens.

She continues: “I came from Gaelic straight into the Sevens programme and the development coaches coached almost individually — how to throw, how to pass, how to ruck over, all the rules I hadn’t a clue about. Even the offside rule, I really was starting from scratch.

“There was a lot of stuff that was difficult, the general gameplay and awareness of the game was hard and it did take time,so that was difficult. But you’re individually taught, so that was really good to have.”

Eimear Considine Eimear Considine has represented Clare in football and camogie. Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

In recent years, the Irish Women’s team have enjoyed some remarkable achievements, the highlight being their 2014 World Cup run to the semi-finals that included a memorable defeat of New Zealand.

Yet with expectations higher than ever, Considine feels the current side can match any even surpass those past achievements ahead of a big year in which Ireland are hosting the Women’s Rugby World Cup.

We’re not just going to want to compete in the World Cup, we’re going to want to get on well and get a really good result at home especially.

“The Six Nations is the first thing we need to focus on. If we get a good Six Nations campaign, it will lead into a good World Cup campaign at home, which would be really positive.”

The sport of women’s rugby has seen considerable growth in recent times, and that trend will likely continue in 2017.

“Especially this year, people are focusing their attention on the Women’s World Cup in Ireland,” Considine adds.

“I suppose rugby is lucky to have a feeder sport as such in Gaelic and camogie, where you develop the basic skills and then you can just work on the rugby skills.

“This year, there will be a lot of focus on it and advertisments and all the matches will be really good for the game, so that will encourage more people to go and play it.”

In addition, when she’s not training and playing rugby, Considine works as a PE and Irish teacher in Glasnevin.

She trains nearby, which feels like a luxury for someone who had been accustomed to trekking home to Clare every weekend to play GAA.

The pupils, she adds, are looking forward to seeing her represent Ireland.

“All the girls that are playing on teams know all about it, so they’re really excited for Friday night.

(The school have) been really supportive. I do realise I’m lucky to be in a workplace that appreciates that. It’s busy, but it’s great.

“We’re trying to promote (women’s rugby) more as well, so hopefully they’ll all be watching it.”

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About the author:

Paul Fennessy

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