It’s great that the image of women in sport is finally changing. Things are going in the right direction with women athletes finally on the front cover of magazines and papers and the message that’s getting out there loud and clear is that women can be strong and fit.
I plan my whole week around my training. I do four sessions during the week and four at the weekend so it’s pretty hectic. Luckily, I love the gym. I know it sounds mad but I love the atmosphere there. I enjoy everything from doing weights to using the rowing machine. It’s like my focus for everything. Most of my training is in my local gym, R&R Fitness, in Castleisland, Co Kerry — although sometimes my fiancé, Damian, keeps me company for the sessions. It’s nice to have someone to train with because you can get isolated on your own.
When I’m not playing rugby, I’m a teacher, I’m working in a national school in Limerick at the moment, and I also give my father a hand on the farm.
I can’t think of anything that would be my idea of misery. I don’t look at life in that way. I look at it like this: if I put my mind to it, I can do anything. I mightn’t like it, but there is nothing that I wouldn’t try. If I fail, I fail.
Sport and farming have helped me to become resilient and disciplined. Nothing’s ever going to be perfect. You often have to go out in the freezing cold when you’re farming, you may not want to, but you have to adapt and put up with it.
My greatest fault is trying to do too much and wanting to get everything right. It irritates me when things don’t go to plan but you can’t just pack it in - you have to keep going and persevere, no matter what. Damian is good at helping me to see the bigger picture.
I am a person of few words. I like to go out and play. I think that’s what makes me a good leader: I only talk when I need to talk. And, I wouldn’t expect my team mates to do anything that I wouldn’t do myself.
If I could be someone else for a day I’d be Serena Williams. She has accomplished so much, with such a lot of hardship in her life.
My biggest challenges so far have been my injuries. My first year, I broke one leg, and a few months later, I broke the other one. Mentally, I found that quite hard to cope with — but I found a way to keep training. The air bike is a fantastic invention.
I do believe there is some kind of afterlife. My mother is very involved with our local church and I love the community spirit that goes with it. I certainly believe in holy water before I go to a match. It’s a mind thing.
I think ambition is more important than talent. You can be the most talented player in the world but if you’re not willing to get up in the mornings and train, you will get nowhere.
My best skill is being a hard worker.
My favourite saying is that hard work will always beat talent if talent isn’t willing to work hard enough.
The key to exercise is finding a form of exercise that you enjoy doing.
I do believe in fate. What’s meant to be won’t pass you by.
The best advice I ever got is not to be afraid to ask a question. If you are unsure of a play — or if you’re not sure if you’ve done it right — don’t be afraid to ask. You learn from your mistakes. And, go to other people for support. People are there around you for a reason, don’t take it all on yourself. This advice applies to life in general as much as it does to rugby.
So far life has taught me that not everything is going to go your way all the time. It is how you react that matters. That is when your character is revealed.
Ciara is working with Aldi, official supermarket of the IRFU, to promote Aldi Play Rugby, a free initiative for national primary schools to get kids involved in playing rugby in a fun and safe non-contact way. IRFU community rugby officers visit schools, providing free equipment and coaching support www.aldi.ie/playrugby