School Daze with Cork GAA All Star Amy O'Connor: 'Sport helps mental health'

I was always a good child — sports-mad and I loved school. I was good at sport and subjects like Biology, Chemistry and Business but was absolutely dreadful at singing and anything that involved music.
School Daze with Cork GAA All Star Amy O'Connor: 'Sport helps mental health'
GAA All-Star Amy O'Connor plies her craft. Picture: INPHO/Dan Sheridan
GAA All-Star Amy O'Connor plies her craft. Picture: INPHO/Dan Sheridan

I have really good memories of going to the Cork City Sports in Páirc Uí Chaoimh in primary school and practising in the weeks leading up to that every year. My most vivid memory of my first day in secondary school is getting the top locker which was a bit of a disaster for me as I was so small at the time.

I was always a good child — sports-mad and I loved school. I was good at sport and subjects like Biology, Chemistry and Business but was absolutely dreadful at singing and anything that involved music.

As for lessons I learned during school years that apply to my life today? You will be rewarded for the work that you put in and to always try your best!

If I were to meet myself as a kid, I would say: The most important thing in life is to be a good, honest and caring person and to ensure that no one feels left out and left behind. Treat everyone how you would like to be treated.

The best advice I got back then that I apply to my life today? An investment in your education pays the best interest.

I was lucky enough to have had brilliant teachers, especially during secondary school. There are four that stand out and all for very different reasons. Mr Stuart Barry was my Maths teacher and also the school camogie coach. He put a lot of time and effort in with me as I missed quite a bit of school playing soccer abroad and because of his help outside of class I was able to sit higher-level Maths for my Leaving Cert. He also really helped me camogie wise and said a few things over the years which I still think about today.

Ms Eibhlís Lysaght was my Business teacher and again put so much effort in with not only me but all of her students. Our class absolutely loved Ms Lysaght and had so much respect for her. She taught me so much about organisation and leadership.

Ms Rita Ferriter was my Biology and Chemistry teacher and her classes were always so entertaining. She made these difficult subjects easy and I went on to study pharmacy in college and believe that it was as a result of her making chemistry and biology so enjoyable to study. I still laugh today at some of the things that happened in her class.

Ms Naughton was our guidance counsellor in fifth and sixth year and encouraged me to seek out a scholarship to college. She helped me in so many ways during the application and interview process and I was awarded the Quercus scholarship in UCC for the entire duration of my studies.

I think I actually only ever went to one school disco as I absolutely hated anything like that! It was the night of our Junior Cert results.

Growing up, all I ever wanted to do was be a Cork senior camogie player and the joy I get from sport, especially camogie, is something I can’t describe so I always knew it would be a big part of my life.

I definitely didn’t always know I would end up working in the field I am working in. I studied Pharmacy in UCC and did a Master's in Pharmacy with the Royal College of Surgeons and now I’m working with a technology company who focus on internal employee communications. I always thought I’d end up working in the pharmaceutical industry or something to do with medicine — and maybe someday I will — but for now I’m delighted to be trying something totally new to me. It is a challenge but It will stand to me in the future and when the opportunity arose, I knew that these opportunities won’t always come knocking so I jumped at it.

I’m currently working with Workvivo and the people I work with are unbelievably talented at what they do.

As for these strange times, I would say to people to try and enjoy the slower pace of life because before we know it, we will all be back running and racing everywhere. Enjoy the time spent with family, we may never get this much time again!

Sport also teaches us such valuable life lessons such as discipline and resilience and I would encourage everyone to get involved in sport — not only for their physical health but also for their mental health.

  •  Amy O'Connor is a Cork senior camogie player and All-Star. She is currently working with Cork company Workvivo

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