Hannah O’Connor is an Irish Rugby Player from Galway. She plays club for Blackrock College RFC and has played for the Ireland women’s national rugby team.
Speaking to the Her Sport Energia AIL show, the Irish number eight reflected on last season, explaining how getting to the Semi-Finals was both a highlight and lowlight. They played a great game of rugby that she expresses they were on the wrong side of. The team achieved their goal of going into the top 4 to get into the Semi-Finals.
There were several new players that only grew the team’s culture and moulded perfectly to play a great game of rugby. Blackrock’s idea is to marry the fast runners in the back with the skillful girls upfront, so that the game is not only fun to play, but it’s fun to watch as well.
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The main goal in the off season is to get the same amount of energy and adrenaline that the team had this past season, and take it all through next season.
Preseason for the club has been straightforward with strength and conditioning being the main focus as well as field work. They have already started building strength in the gym because this next season they have to “hit the ground running” with some tough teams to start out with.
O’Connor states that club teams are very important for international rugby players because that is where a lot of skills are honed in on and perfected. Most opportunities come from the club, so hopefully a lot of their players can wear the green jersey at some point.
Her personal experience with Blackrock as an international player has been nothing short of supportive. She said that with both preseasons going on around the same time, Blackrock has alleviated a lot of the stress with doing both.
"Without your club, you're nothing"@HannahOConnor22 spoke with us about the importance of the #EnergiaAIL and club rugby for players with ambitions to play internationally or professionally.
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The first week of a new season is always up to the unknown with all the new players and how they mould with the old players- it does not matter what team you get for the first game. Wicklow is a big competitor because their season also starts out strong with hard teams. O’Connor predicts that they are also wasting no time by building strength in the gym. It will be a good match, but tough nonetheless.
When international players go back to their clubs, it is always a healthy rivalry between them. Players will do whatever it takes to win the crest for your club.
Blackrock’s goal this year is simply to win. There are a lot of new girls with lots of experience, so they will be great additions. O’Connor explains how it is best to take it one game at a time. Everyone plays each other once, so there is no second chance at revenge-they have to get it right the first time. If you look too far into the future of the season, games are already gone before they are even played.
She expects that this AIL season will go by extremely fast. It is a challenge to switch leagues so fast, but now that the clubs are back into their rhythm regarding training and preseason after Covid, O’Connor says that the speed is definitely something to get used to. It is a great feeling being challenged all the time by playing the best teams, she feels like this season will be the most competitive they have seen in a while, especially with the new format.
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