Habit forming: Why Cork's Orla Finn is a creature of habit

When management consultant Stephen Covey wrote the international bestselling book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, he could have devoted a chapter to Cork Gaelic footballer Orla Finn.

Highly disciplined, she describes herself as a creature of habit.

“I love routine. I love doing the same things all the time,” says the primary school teacher.

The resulting steady rhythm of her day, means she can maintain a high-energy output from morning to night.

“When you are playing at such a high level you have to have these habits — you have to be in routine to perform to your optimum — it’s important you go to bed at a certain time, get up for school at the same time every morning.” And there is no let up – even when it comes to her weekly grocery shopping.

“It’s nearly the exact time each week. I try to get my food shop on a Sunday so that on the Monday I come home from school, go to the gym, go home and eat dinner.”

From Kinsale, she was on the move from a young age, taking up athletics with the local club aged seven. But there came a point when she realised she couldn’t do it all.

“In my mid-teens I had to pick either football or athletics — I stuck with the football.”

She is a senior infants teacher at St Joseph’s Boys National School, Cobh, and in what may well be a case of like attracting like, her boyfriend Brian O’Halloran is a also a primary school teacher and a GAA player — he was on the Waterford senior hurling panel.

“You have to have something in common,” she quips.

Orla was at the launch of the new blueberry flavour of Avonmore Protein Milk.

What shape are you in?

We train collectively as a team three times a week and then twice a week I do my own gym sessions just to keep fit. Basically, I’d be training five to six times a week. Pitch sessions last an hour to an hour and a half. In the gym it would be strength training and core work. I might spend an hour in the gym. At times I would go out for a jog — just to clear my mind or it might be a recovery run if you’re after a tough game. I really enjoy running.

What are your healthiest eating habits?

For breakfast, I’d have a bowl of porridge and nuts and seeds or else I’d have eggs —scrambled or poached — and some sourdough toast or brown bread. For my lunch, I’d usually have a salad with a turkey burger and, for dinner, I might have chicken, veg and rice or steak and veg and rice or baked potatoes. Then I’d have snacks throughout the day — I love fresh fruit and yoghurt.

What are your guiltiest pleasures?

Milk chocolate and I love ice cream — an Oreo McFlurry would be lovely on a treat day after a game. You can’t think about the calories or you won’t enjoy it.

What would keep you awake at night?

Generally, I sleep quite well. But if there are any changes in my life I might be a bit anxious about it. That’s the only thing that would keep me awake. I like to get eight hours if I can. I need my sleep.

How do you relax?

I could go running. Or I might go out for a coffee or for a short walk. Saturday is usually my relaxing day when I take a rest. I might do a cliff walk or even go for a stroll, starting at Blackrock Castle for a coffee, with my friends or boyfriend.

Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?

Katie Taylor — I’ve huge admiration for what she has achieved. Being in an individual sport and how far she’s come is just unbelievable. She’s an inspiration for anyone.

What’s your favourite smell?

I love Jo Malone candles — pomegranate noir is nice. And the normal smells, like freshly cut grass in the summer.

What would you like to change about your appearance?

Maybe to be a tiny bit taller — I’m 5ft 5in. It would be handy to be that bit taller for the high ball.

When is the last time you cried?

When we lost to Dublin in last year’s All-Ireland. They scored a late goal and we lost by five points.

What trait do you least like in others?


What trait do you least like about yourself?

That I’d be anxious about something new — over-thinking new situations.

Do you pray?


What would cheer up your day?

Knowing I’ve plans made with a friend to go to the cinema or go for a meal — it’s something nice to look forward to.

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