Official Aras Mumhan Website

14th April 2024

An inalienable truth about happy, healthy and thriving environments is that they doesn’t contain many energy suckers, if any, but are heavily populated by positive people.

By Daragh Ó Conchúir

Denis Kelly and his Tipperary brains trust must count their blessings every day Clodagh McIntyre rocks up for training, not least when building up to today’s Very Camogie League Division 1A final against three-in-a-row chasing champions Galway at Croke Park (2.30pm, live on RTÉ2 as part of the historic triple-header with the Division 2A final between Derry and Westmeath and the Leinster SFC clash between All-Ireland champions Dublin and Meath).

Doctors have written far fewer effective prescriptions than what a course of chatting to McIntyre might cure.

You can just imagine someone pulling into the Tipperary Camogie Grounds at The Ragg after a tough day, not in the mood for anything. Then McIntyre bounces through the door, oozing optimism in word, the delivery of those words and in her body language. A dose of Clodagh and everyone is ready for road.

What should give us all hope is that there was a time that sunny disposition tended to disappear in the build-up to games. The Lorrha speedster would become enslaved by a negative mindset focusing on all that could go wrong.

A bad injury was the catalyst for the metamorphosis, providing an opportunity to take a yoga teaching course in her final year studying physiotherapy. The physical and mental benefits of a yogi lifestyle are seen in every aspect of McIntyre’s life now, camogie included.
“I would advocate to everyone to try and find a yoga class,” she says. “It ties in nicely with the physio side but in terms of a spiritual side, I definitely think it’s helped me in terms of how I prepare for matches.

“Usually I’d get really nervous and think the weight of the world is on my shoulder on match days but not anymore. I enjoy match days way more. I’m way more relaxed. I have a lot more trust in the process and have confidence in all the work I’ve done so far rather than worrying, ‘What if this happens?,’ ‘What if that happens?’

“I think that’s made me a bit of a better player. When I look back at videos of me before I’d be playing and my shoulders could be up to my ears and I’d be looking so tense whereas now, I think I have a little bit more relaxation. I’m always trying to get better at it.

“Last year I had a stress fracture in my foot so I had to take the guts of six months off training. I’m not the type of woman to stay idle too long. It was on my mind to do teacher training so when I wasn’t able to play camogie, the opportunity arose. I did an online course and ever since then, I’ve been highly advocating the great benefits that yoga has to offer.

“I’ve hopefully inspired a few of the other girls in the team to find their own practice as well and sometimes I teach them a bit of a class!”

Two months after celebrating her 23rd birthday, McIntyre feels she has a pretty good work-life balance now. We speak during a break from her work at SportsPlus Physiotherapy’s new state-of-the-art premises in Nenagh, where she says she is learning every day from John Casey and Owen Higginbotham, former physios with Tipp hurlers and footballers.

“Any time I’m not working, I need to be out getting some sunlight,” she informs, acknowledging that this has been difficult of late. But nature and the outdoor elements, whatever form they take, are balm for her soul.

A switch in playing roles has contributed to her newfound equanimity on the pitch too. Though still in the nascent period of her transition, McIntyre has played a starring role from half-back, her supreme athleticism and freakish pace having an impact. Think Saoirse McCarthy, when Paudie Murray moved the then career forward back a few years ago to stunning effect.

“Sometimes before a match, you might be getting a little bit anxious about having to score but when you get back in the backs, you don’t have to worry about that. If the opportunity arises, you take it and if it doesn’t, just keep the ball away from our own goal is the main objective!”

Being more relaxed should not be mistaken for not caring, however. For starters, being from Lorrha, on the border with Offaly and Galway, where she went to school, tends to accentuate county allegiances.

Then there is the in-house indoctrination. McIntyre’s father, Aidan is chairman of Lorrha, while her older brothers Eoin and Niall hurl. You might remember the four of them reached the final of Ireland’s Fittest Family three ago, when Clodagh knocked it out of the park time and again.

Her mother Pauline “gets jobs” related to club activity. Her uncle, John played for Tipp and managed Offaly and Galway.

It was as a forward McIntyre made her name but Tipp’s fortunes have improved this year since she was relocated. Ironically, her new weaponry was first unleashed on Galway, after the Premiers had lost to Waterford. They got their campaign back on the road with a brilliant win, inspired by Eimear McGrath’s hat-trick of goals.

Cork, Kilkenny and Clare were beaten thereafter, to book their place in today’s final.

“We had a good few injuries in the backs but to be honest, I’ve been really enjoying it.

“I don’t think I’d ever played in the backs before but I’m very lucky the girls around me have very good experience. The first day I lined out at wing-back was actually against Galway and the girls were giving me great guidance. I’m always wanting to push forward as the attacking is still deep rooted but if there’s good communication, which we’ve put an emphasis on, you can play in any position on the field.”

Ending on a positive note? No surprises there.

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