'I feel like I am back to myself' - My LGFA Life with Clare's Laurie Ryan

Laurie Ryan – Clare

Age: 26

Club: The Banner Ladies

Occupation: Work – Education and Public Engagement officer for SSPC research centre.

College – Final year PhD student in Science Education and Outreach.

County debut: 2010

Notable achievements: 4 O’Connor Cup, 2 College League titles, 10 Senior Club Championship titles, 11 Senior Club League titles, 3 Interprovincial Cups, 2 Interprovincial Shields, Division 3 League, 2 College All-Stars, 2017 Team of the league, 2016 LGFA All-Star Nomination, WGPA Young Leader of the Year, Minor Munster Championship, Division one Féile, Club 7s Champions, 1 Munster Club Championship, 4 Club B championships.

Q: Laurie, thanks for chatting to us. How have you found your experience of playing Ladies Football?

A: Personally, I have had so much enjoyment and excitement playing Ladies Football. I have got to meet so many amazing people through playing with them, management teams and even people who just enjoy coming out to support us. I have learned so much throughout my time playing that has transferred in to my everyday life, really good life skills. So overall it has definitely been a positive experience.

Q: What was it that sparked your interest in the sport from a young age?

A: Initially, I was soccer mad and just loved being active and out of the house. I remember all my friends from soccer were going to football games, so I felt I was missing out. I went and played a community games tournament with them and I never really looked back after that. I joined my club the same year and played with my school team as well. I always tell the story of how I was on my club B team U12 so I was slow to get going. I was around ten or eleven when I started playing, which some people consider late enough. I loved getting to meet my friends and I fell in love with the sport and always wanted to be kicking and learning the skills to get better.

A: When did you pull on the Clare jersey for the first time, and how big a thrill was that?

A: I remember I was U14, when I started playing for Clare, I do not think at the time I realised how big an achievement it was. My family would not know much about GAA or have any interest in matches, so it probably went over my head for the first few years of playing for Clare. Looking back, I was really excited to make the panel and then when I was starting, I was shocked and always told myself to go out and just keep trying my hardest.

Q: What is the best thing for you about playing Ladies Football?

A: I love the feeling of working towards a common goal with a group of people. You are working as hard as you can and you just know there are 30 girls putting in the same effort to get to a common goal. I think that leads to the great friendships you can develop through playing. I also love how LGFA is such a close-knit family, so many of us around the country know each other from Interpros, Colleges or even just marking each other over the years. And when you play against someone, it’s great that after the game all is forgotten and you just catch up – I think that is one of my favourite things.

Q: Who was the biggest influence on your career?

A: I always think I wouldn’t be where I am today without Louise Henchy, when I first joined the senior panel, she collected me for every training session and always made sure I got the front seat! She was a fantastic mentor to me, and I am lucky enough to call her a clubmate and friend. I loved watching her play for Clare when I was underage, and it was so well deserved when she got to lift the cup in Croke Park in 2009. I think having the opportunity to talk to her so much and train with her influenced me in such a positive way that I probably didn’t even thank her enough for it.

Clare and Banner legend Louise Henchy 

Q: What are the main challenges that you have faced in your career so far?

A: So far, I have been so lucky with all the opportunities I have had both in sport and outside, but by far the hardest thing is time management. It’s such an important skill that anyone playing has to learn. It’s so much more than just training and work, you have to bring family, friends and even down time into it. I have realised so much over the years, and learning to say no is a big challenge I used to have.

Q: You’ve spoken extensively about concussion and the impact that it’s had on you. How are you now?

A: I am doing great now, I feel like I am back to myself. It took a while, and something I am still very conscious of. My eyes have been opened to how serious an injury it can be and that is something I still feel a lot of people do not understand. I know myself personally before I got injured, I never would have imagined the impact a concussion can have on your general quality of life outside sport. I missed three months of work and college because I just could not look at a computer for that long. It was a learning for me and I feel like it’s something that has become a really important topic to raise awareness on.

Q: You’ve had a spell as captain of the Clare team. How big an honour was that for you?  

A: It was a fantastic honour for me personally, and for my club and family. I remember the first day I got the call from John Burke asking would I be interested, I ran downstairs to tell my nana and I was buzzing, it was straight over her head, she didn’t have a clue why I was so excited. I was so lucky to have had the chance for five years and I learned so much about myself and the people on the team. Initially I was only 21 and this definitely pushed me to be a better player but also helped me grow as a person, the skills you pick up stand to you in every aspect of my life and that was great.

Q: Laurie, you’ve been working on a PHD at University of Limerick. Can you tell us all about it? 

A: I am currently in the final stages of my PhD and I have finally started writing the thesis. It’s a long process but I am finally starting to see the end is in sight. My PhD is focused on working with Science outreach providers and teachers in Ireland to incorporate real research and discussion in the classroom. I was lucky in my PhD, I have had so many opportunities, for example I did Science Magic shows around Ireland once a week, worked with the undergraduates in UL Science Ed and then I did a year in Dublin, working in education and public engagement. The time in Dublin, I was running Science Week 2018 nationally and I think this really helped me learn how to prioritise my work and set myself tasks and hard deadlines.

Q: What has it been like to represent your county at Croke Park? 

A: It’s surreal, it’s what I always wanted to do since I was very young. Even in 2008 & 2009 I was there watching the Clare and thinking to myself how cool it would be to get the opportunity to play there. The atmosphere, the facilities and the set-up is just amazing, it would make you want to work hard to get back to it.

Q: What are your hopes and aspirations for the rest of your career?

A: Win an All-Ireland with Clare is still at the top of my list. It is something I have wanted since I joined the panel. It’s been a long road so it would be nice to win something with the county in the next few years. I would also love to get back to winning ways with the club, we were defeated last year in the county final.

Q: Have you played other sports?

A: I played a lot of soccer underage; we had a great local club Lifford Ladies and won an All-Ireland. We travelled to America twice as well to play over there which was such a cool experience when I was so young. I also played basketball in school for a while, and then I like to try a bit of camogie when I have time but it has been put on hold recently with work and college.

Q: Do you have a favourite photograph from your career?

A: There is a picture of Louise Ward and myself after winning the O’Connor cup in 2019, I think at the moment the two of us couldn’t have been happier. It always cheers me up! We had lost badly to UCD in the league final earlier in the season, and I remember both of us would be driving each other on after that. I also knew that was probably the last game I would get to play with her, so I was delighted to finish on a high.

Q: How have you managed to cope with the experience of lockdown and the Covid-19 pandemic?

A: To be honest, this was a blessing in disguise for me. I was cocooning with my nana from the day colleges closed. I have had a lot of time to focus on my PhD and work make sure that the write up stays progressing. I also have been lucky enough that I can work from home, I work as an Education and Public Engagement Officer in SSPC a Pharma Research centre. Usually, one of my favourite parts of the job was going to schools so I do miss that side of things, but we ran an online competition for primary school children and getting the entries in every week cheered me up. Children are so creative, it’s amazing. Other than that I have just made sure to stay active and try keep my nana up beat as she hates being locked in. I tried to teach her TikTok dances and it’s safe to say neither of us have a career in it!

Q: You play your club football with The Banner. What has that experience of club football been like for you?  

A: The Banner has been a great club to grow up playing for, we have had a lot of success since I was very young. The first big memory I had was winning the Division 1 Féile title with the club and it was such a big thing for us at the time. We then went on to and won our first county senior title in 2008 and that was also my first year on the team. It was fantastic to be part of that and play a role in the club making that breakthrough to senior. I suppose since then we have been lucky enough to keep building on that success and win 10 county titles. Probably our biggest success was winning the Munster Championship in 2013, all of us really enjoyed winning the 7s competition as well – it’s just such a fun day out for everyone involved. SO many brilliant memories and days that we won’t forget.

Q: What’s your career highlight?

A: I think the moment we beat Tipperary in the All-Ireland semi-final in 2016 was a huge highlight for me, we had worked so hard as a team and for it to pay off and get the opportunity to play in Croke park was an amazing feeling. It was in the Gaelic grounds in Limerick and I just remember everyone’s family was out on the pitch afterwards and the excitement was crazy. There was a video clip on YouTube, and you can just see myself and two other girls rolling around the ground after the match with delight.


Keeping Tipperary at bay during the closing moments of the 2016 TG4 All-Ireland Intermediate semi-final 

Q: How confident are you that Clare can emerge as a leading contender for the 2020 TG4 All-Ireland Intermediate Championship? 

A: I feel like we are capable of anything when we put our minds to it, over the last couple of years we have given some fantastic performances – some that we probably shocked ourselves with but we tend to struggle with consistency. We have a young panel, but I feel that the younger girls are really starting to drive the whole thing on, and they have pushed to another level.  I am certain that Clare have the ability to be up the top end come the end of championship.

Q: What piece of advice would you offer to up and coming young players?

A: Work hard and always appreciate the opportunities you are given.

Q: And who’s given you the best piece of advice during your career?

A: The Banner Management always told us “Go out and enjoy yourself” and I think it’s so true. Sometimes we all get caught up in stuff and forget to actually enjoy the experience.

Q: What hobbies do you enjoy?

A: I really enjoy going for walks, hikes and anything that is outdoors. I also love going to the beach for a swim – I find it really helps to clear the head. Always up for a coffee and a good feed.

Q: You’re hosting a dinner party, and you can invite 5 people. Who’s on the list and what are you rustling up for your guests to eat?


  1. Glenn Whelan
  2. Michael D Higgins
  3. Colleen Rooney
  4. Roger Federer
  5. PJ Gallagher

I love making Turkey meatballs and brownies so I would probably stick to what I know with that one.

Q: And finally, who’s your all-time sporting idol?

A: Such a hard question to pick just one, but I think Roger Federer is always someone that I had followed. I love how consistent he has been throughout his career and it just shows how dominant he has been. I had tickets for Wimbledon 2020, roll on 2021!!

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