“When you get a taste at this level you just want more,” says 19 year old upcoming Irish International Enya Breen. The UL student made her debut for the Irish side against France last weekend at number 13.
By Daimhlinn Darling
At just 8 years old Enya started her rugby career, in the footsteps of her brother, and has always wanted to play rugby. The Breen household was full of sports and the rugby star has never dreamed of pursuing anything else.
“We were a very sporty family,” she explains, “so we were all kind of pushed into sports since we could walk really.”
The Skibbereen native began playing with the boys of the Carrigaline Rugby Club which she really enjoyed because, as she is the younger of 2 brothers, she says “it was good to be as good as the boys at something”. After moving house she joined her local club Bantry Bay RFC to truly find her passion for the sport and has been playing ever since. She now plays with UL Bohemians in Limerick alongside many of the athletes of the current Irish team.
Her journey to the Irish team began four years ago when she was selected for the under 18 Munster team which she played on until she was no longer of age. She also went forward to the under Irish 18s sevens team as a result of her excellent performance with Munster.
The transitions between each level of progression are a lot for any young athlete to manage. “You usually jump straight from U18 to Seniors and it’s a bit ridiculous,” Enya says, “so the IRFU put a talent development programme in place to make that jump a little bit easier”. Through this programme she was selected for the senior Munster team which was where she played until she got the call in October that she would be playing the November Test matches versus England and the USA, and now the second year physio has moved onto the Six Nations.
Enya gave us a taste of her hectic training schedule which consists of multiple gym sessions, running sessions, pitch work, not only with her college team and her club but also at the Irish training camps. Needless to say it is very packed for a young college student. On top of this she needs to eat a healthy, balanced diet, which she suggests everyone should commit to without giving up what they enjoy. “I’d be strict enough with my diet but I wouldn’t restrict myself. If I like something and I want something then I’d eat it,” she says.
The Irish international is a big fan of snacking on treats like chocolate bars without feeling guilty. “In my mind I’m training enough that I need the food to fuel myself and if that would be with a chocolate bar then why not,” she says, “I think you should just enjoy whatever you want in moderation.”
Balancing everything can be hard for any student, but for an elite athlete it can be 10 times harder. Enya described her last semester of constantly travelling for training whilst managing her lectures and workload in college as “exhausting”. “I was very busy and I found it very tough,” she explains “I was just wrecked the time”. In what little free time the rugby star has, she spends most of it relaxing and escaping all of the things she has to do for a while. “You just need a break,” she says, “anything to distract [yourself] really.”
Despite all of this, the young hopeful just can’t get enough. “I always want to get better as a player,” she beams, “I just need to keep working as hard as I can.” The star is aiming to eventually be selected for the squad for the 2021 World Cup in New Zealand.