'I found it tough at times to be isolated from friends and family' - My LGFA Life with Roscommon's Honor Ennis

My LGFA Life with Honor Ennis – Roscommon Footballer


Age: 25

Club: St Ciaran’s

Occupation: Management Consultant

County debut: 2015 vs Leitrim

Notable achievements: Connacht Intermediate winners 2018 & 2019, Club Junior Connacht winners and All Ireland finalists 2014


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

A: I love it. Naturally there have been ups and downs at different stages throughout the years, but I think lockdown has really shown what it means to have it in our lives and those past 4/5 months without it were challenging. I’ve so many great memories from playing football from an early age; from U12 Roscommon squads to Féile in Kildare 2009. When I think of all the different teams I’ve played with over the years, and the number of connections made because of a shared interest, it’s been brilliant.


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

A: We’ve always been sports mad in our house. My family owned a village pub until I was seven and there was always something to do with sports going on. I’ll never forget the excitement of the 2002 World Cup – the place would be packed first thing in the morning! My brother is massively into football too and he was always outside kicking a ball, so once he felt I was big enough to go out and stand in goal for him, I caught the bug too! We’re massive Man United fans too so I grew up wearing jerseys – I was very much a tomboy. I remember getting my first Roscommon jersey circa 1999 and it was like a dress on me but I never took it off! My club, St Ciaran’s, didn’t have a ladies team for my early years so I started playing with the boys from U8/U10s.


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

A: It was the first league game of 2015 and I’d just joined the intermediate panel after a very successful year with Ciaran’s. I was very eager and trained hard in the run up to earn my place on the starting 15, I was delighted. The pace of the game took me somewhat by surprise and although it wasn’t my finest hour, it definitely drove me on to work harder and try to improve with every game and training session. I was so happy to have made it on to the intermediate panel; I had watched the girls win the Division 4 league the year before and knew I wanted to push on to be part of that group of players.


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

A: The friendships without a doubt. I’ve met my best friends from playing Ladies Football and that carried all throughout secondary school in the Convent of Mercy, Roscommon, to when I studied Computer Science and made friends (and travel buddies) for life through UCD GAA. Then you have your club-mates and county teammates who you nearly end up seeing the most in a week and we all know the hard work and effort that’s put in and the sacrifices made, and there’s no breaking that bond. And to be fair, the craic we have at the end of the day makes all the hard work worth it. The Connacht final celebrations of the last two years in particular are ones to remember!


Q: Who was the biggest influence on your career?

A: My family are my biggest supporters and influencers, especially my dad. He never misses a match, whether he knows I’m playing or not, and was involved with training my club team when I was U16 and minor and most recently was our club intermediate manager in 2018 & 2019. He’s always been great to talk to about how I’m getting on, things I do right (and wrong) and how I can improve my game – our post-match analysis is normally quite lengthy! A shout-out must also go to my mom because to be fair I wouldn’t be playing at this level now if wasn’t for all the training sessions she’s brought me to over the years, all over the county and further afield. Having that level of support from my parents and brothers has always been an important factor in my progression as a player.


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

A: I’ve been quite unlucky throughout the years with injuries. The year we got to the minor All Ireland ‘B’ Final against Clare, I had spent pretty much the whole season out with a back injury. It was great to be involved all the same though and being a January baby, I had another year ahead of me where I started to find my ground on the pitch. More recently, I tore my quad at the beginning of this year’s season so along with the Covid restrictions, I didn’t get to play any competitive football in 2020 until last weekend! Another challenge was finally getting out from goal, where I actually started my career, to be an outfield player. I was a sub-goalie with Roscommon for my early underage years (could never get passed the brilliant #1 of the same age, Richael Timothy), but once I got the opportunity to play corner back at minor level it thankfully continued through U21 and now to intermediate level.


Q: You’re renowned as a tight-marking defender. What do you consider to be your best attributes as a footballer? 

A: I think I can read a game well so generally my positioning helps a lot with that. It’s important as a defender to be touch-tight and focus on footwork. Plan A is always to win the ball first but if that doesn’t happen, at least you’re close enough to try stand the player up. I enjoy driving forward so off the shoulder support runs are a big part of my game and trying to give a good pass in to our forwards to get the scores.


Q: What do you do for a living, and how do you manage the work-life-sport balance?

A: I’m a third year Associate in PwC’s Management Consultancy practice in Spencer Dock, Dublin. I’ve been very lucky since day one with the support I receive from my colleagues and management in terms of managing work and my training schedule.

I live in Drumcondra so on a typical week (pre-Covid) I travel to and from Roscommon for a pitch session on a Tuesday, and return home again on a Friday for training, staying until after the match on a Sunday. I don’t get to the collective gym sessions in Roscommon so I follow our programme by myself in a gym up here on Mondays and Wednesdays.

All the driving can be tough at times, especially when leaving the city during rush hour traffic, but once I get on the pitch that’s all forgotten and I feel so much better for it. The next day at work may require an additional coffee or two, but I’ve been happy with how I’ve been able to manage it to date.

At the moment we’re obviously in exceptional circumstances due to the pandemic so I feel like I’ve been able to catch up with friends more than normal at this time of year (from a social distance of course), but I suppose we all know sacrifices have to be made along the way and it’s our social lives that usually take the biggest hit. At the same time, it’s not like we never get an opportunity for a break and at the end of the day it’s all worth it for the buzz championship can bring. I’m lucky to have very supportive friends and family who are quick to understand when I can’t make a social engagement because of training or a match.


Q: You’re a club player with St Ciaran’s. How big an influence has the club been on you and how much do you value club football? 

A: St. Ciaran’s have only had a ladies team since 2007 when I was still U12 and we had a strong group at U14. Our first adult team was established in 2011 and from there we’ve gone from strength to strength. As I said, I began my football career as a goalkeeper in the club as I was tall and had good hands apparently! I was in goal the year we won the Feile County Final in 2009 vs Clann na nGael and that was such a proud day for our young club at the time. I was also the goalie when we won the Junior B county final in 2012 but thankfully made it out to centre back for the Junior A win in 2014 that led to Connacht success and ultimately reaching an All-Ireland Club Final.

I have a lot to thank my club for and I have great pride in where I come from. I’ve always felt very close to our community and at times you can see how strong that sense of togetherness is, and more often than not, the club is at the heart of that.


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

A: Well I’d love to make it through the next few years injury free, for anyone who knows me they might think that’s a bit unrealistic! But absolutely the big dream is to line out in Croke Park on All-Ireland Finals day – be it December or September, I’m not fussy! I’ve lived beside the stadium for two years now and honestly the desire only gets stronger. I hope we continue to have success in Connacht having finally got our hands on the Intermediate title in 2018 and again in 2019. To get out of Division 3 would be a big goal in our panel, as you know many intermediate teams are competing at Division 2 or higher, so I think it’s an important target for our continued progression.


Q: Have you played other sports?

A: There are not many sports I don’t like. I would have been a dual player for a lot of my underage career and up to a couple years ago, playing club camogie with Athleague and briefly with Roscommon at U14 and U16. I played football, camogie and soccer all throughout school and picked up a bit of basketball along the way. I may have been on the pitch more than in the classroom at various stages of the year!

I took a year out to work at home between my undergraduate and masters degrees, so I decided to join the local badminton club that my dad’s a member of, where we enjoyed some county success and got to play in Connacht.


Q: Do you have a favourite photograph from your career? Why does this photo mean so much to you?

A: I love this photo from the celebrations at last year’s Connacht Final with Laura Fleming. I’m delighted this moment was captured as myself and Flem are clubmates on the county team and it means a lot to share these moments with lifelong friends.


Q: How have you and your team-mates found the experience of lockdown during Covid-19? What did you do to keep yourselves occupied? 

A: As it was for everyone, lockdown was a strange experience and I’m glad to see some semblance of normality return while respecting the importance of good hand hygiene and wearing face masks.

I spent lockdown in my apartment in Dublin where my bedroom instantly became my home office and gym. I’ve been working from home since March 12th so needless to say, I was delighted to get back home and see my family and also get back onto the pitch.

Thankfully our management team were quick to set up Zoom calls and home sessions, so that was a good way of keeping in touch with the team as well as staying in shape. I was just returning from injury at the beginning of lockdown so personally I used the time to get stronger and get my fitness back – 5km runs became the norm. I found it tough at times to be isolated from friends and family but Zoom and video calls seemed to bring us all closer than ever. I also used the time to explore the surroundings of where I live, it’s definitely the longest I’d spent up here at any one time, and happy to say I love it (even if some people – Mike – think I’m mad to leave Roscommon!).


Q: You’re in a one-on-one situation with one of the game’s most lethal finishers, with just you and the goalkeeper standing between a certain goal. How do you rate your chances of keeping the forward at bay, and what are you looking out for to enhance your chances of making a block/intervention?   

A: If I stay on my feet and don’t dive in, while forcing the player towards the side, I’m in with a good chance of getting a hand-in or forcing a shot from distance. Our number 1 Helena Cummins always has my back though, but I’d like to think I’d have enough done to force a wide or easy save.


Q: What’s your career highlight?

A: The Junior Club All-Ireland semi-final in 2014 against Dromore St. Dympna’s of Tyrone. We had home advantage for this game and I have never seen our local pitch, Mulhern Park, so packed with people. It was an unreal game of football that ended in a draw at full-time and we won by a point after extra-time. It’s definitely up there as of the best games of football I’ve played. The scenes on the pitch afterwards were immense, I’ll never forget it.

In action during the 2014 All-Ireland Junior Club Championship Final 


Q: How confident are you that Roscommon can make a big impact in the 2020 TG4 All-Ireland Intermediate Championship?

A: I think we’re in with a good chance in our group, but I suppose it’s just hard to know how teams are operating and have been dealing with the changes of this year. Offaly are always tricky and given that Wexford have been in Division Two for a few years, we’ll have two tough games but after two years of big semi-final defeats, the determination to go one step further is very strong in our panel.


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

A: Never give up and know the hard work will pay off. I always wanted to play football for Roscommon and make my mark on the team. Early in my career I faced some setbacks but once I really got the bit between my teeth, the hard work and dedication paid off. I would advise young players who feel they’ve not made an impact yet but love the game to keep driving on and don’t be afraid to ask where you need to improve, your managers are only happy to help you out.


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

A: I’ve received plenty of good advice throughout the years that I’ve taken on board and has helped improve my game. It’s hard to pinpoint one single piece but the messages generally centre around the same idea; do the simple things right and trust that you’ve put the hard work in. One thing that’s always said before our club matches is to go out and enjoy it!


Q: What hobbies do you enjoy?

A: So aside from playing sport, I also enjoy watching it; I missed the Premier League while it was gone so was good to see that come back and I like going to support my brother in his club games with Fuerty. I’m a big fan of baking and have been since I was small, so that kept me occupied over lockdown. I like reading and travelling (planned around football of course), and I love a good opportunity to let the hair down and socialise!


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?

A:  We do love a party in our house at home (think it’s the pub background!) but it’d be hard narrow it down to just 5! To keep in line with the football, I’d invite the UCD girls I played with; Shauna, Hayley and Aisling, and then for entertainment purposes, Dara O’Briain for the jokes and Gerry Cinnamon with his guitar for the sing song!

Prosecco on arrival. Nachos with homemade guac and salsa, keep it simple with a cheese board and a few cocktails I reckon, and I’d have a choice of desserts, Toblerone cheesecake, and tiramisu!


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

A: From a Gaelic football perspective, I was mesmerised by Ciarán McDonald as a kid, his ability and skill were a joy to watch. Like I said Man United were a big presence in our house, so I always admired the work rate and ability of Paul Scholes, and as I used to be a goalie, Edwin van der Sar was my favourite player (bit young to properly remember the Schmeichel days!).


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