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In Focus: Marie Louise Reilly

In Focus: Marie Louise Reilly

The Ireland Women face a big challenge at Ashbourne RFC on Friday night when they host a Grand Slam-chasing England side. Ahead of the game, we caught up with lineout specialist Marie Louise Reilly.

Name: Marie Louise Reilly

Nickname: Maz

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DOB: April 1, 1980

Club: Old Belvedere 2010/11 (previously Navan, 2005 to 2010, and Tralee 2005)

Province: Leinster

Position: Second row (previously a full-back!)

Q: Why did you choose rugby?

A: While in college in Tralee, the local club were short a few players for a match and one of the players asked if I’d go along to make up the numbers…I’ve been playing ever since.

Q: At what age/level did you start playing?

A: I think I was around 24 or 25 when I started playing at club level with Tralee RFC.

Q: Why did you decide to try out for the provincial team?

A: My coach in Tralee told me about the provincial teams and thought I should give it a go.

Q: Was Leinster a team you always wanted to play for, or was any province up for grabs?

A: I had finished college in Tralee and had moved back to Meath, so Leinster was the natural choice.

Q: What was your greatest moment playing for your club so far?

A: Playing on the same Navan team as my sister.

Q: What was your greatest moment playing for Leinster so far?

A: Each year always throws up some memorable moments and all those involved make each year unique, but the 2009 season deserves a special mention – fantastic strength and conditioning, quality coaching and management, superb commitment from the players and a good few laughs along the way.

It was really a terrific experience. I learnt loads and it really helped me develop as a player.

Q: How did it feel to get picked for the Ireland squad for the first time?

A: Shock…nerves…excitement! Just delighted as I knew my family would be very proud.

Q: What was your greatest moment playing for Ireland so far?

A: 2010 was my first year playing for Ireland, but it was jam-packed with great moments – first cap against Italy, playing in Ireland’s 100th Test match against England, finishing seventh in the World Cup and having the privilege to share the whole experience with great players, a fantastic management team, unbelieveable supporters and last but definitely not least, my family.

Q: What do you enjoy most and least in the Six Nations?

A: I most look forward to having the opportunity to pull on the green jersey again and the least enjoyable experience is having to hand it back!

Q: How did you react to losses in the early years as opposed to now? Did they help you develop a certain mindset?

A: I was behind the fence as a supporter in the early days, but in terms of a mindset when representing Ireland, I suppose Sinead Ryan (Navan, Blackrock, Leinster and Ireland) set the tone when she said that, ‘no matter how hard it gets, just remember what jersey you have on your back.’

Q: Did you have any rugby role models that you followed when you were younger?

A: Not really but I think that the first rugby player that stood out was David Campese. There seemed to be a buzz of expectation whenever he got the ball.

Q: Since growing up have you had a chance to meet that role model and did they offer you any advice?

A: I’ll let you know when I’ve grown up!

Q: What was your hardest competition to win that gave you the most satisfaction?

A: Most recently it was the Xbox Kinect Dance Central game. I beat my nieces Rebecca, Aoibhe and Cara. Good times!

Q: Do you recall who your hardest opponent has been?

A: I think that every opponent has something to offer, but two standout performers on a national and internationals stage are:

Fi Coghlan – determined, committed skilful, constantly striving to raise standards and always looking to play at 8, 7 or 10!

Joy Neville – you never know what she’s going to do, whether it be a sidestep, dummy, sneak back pass or just wearing illuminous yellow boots. A formidable player!

Q: Do you have a certain training routine/programme that you follow to stay at the top level?

A: We receive a training programme when with the Ireland squad which involves strength and conditioning, sprint and endurance work and between training camps we also try to practice our rugby specific skills – passing, kicking, etc.

Q: What advice would you give to other women who wish to follow in your footsteps?

A: Get involved, give it a go. Keep trying to improve and has as much fun as possible along the way.

Q: Final words?

A: If in doubt…kick it!

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In Focus: Fiona Coghlan

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