Lauren McKenna playing camogie through the pain barrier
“If you don’t overdo it you can train and play to your potential.”
Lauren McKenna utters these words at the end of our interview and Derry and Ballinascreen camogie player knows what she’s talking about.
Lauren McKenna is an accomplished Irish dancer and enjoyed a successful career claiming Ulster, All-Ireland and World titles.
Due to injuries and GAA commitments she gave up her solo career two years ago but she still competes as part of a team in competitions.
“I have tendonitis in my knees which means I have to be really careful about balancing and managing my training sessions,'' she said.
“I missed the winter period due to injuries and I still have a recovery programme to do, which my brother helps me with as he has experience of what I’m going through having also suffered from tendonitis.”
The 20-year-old is enjoying her chance to play for her county and says she was surprised when she got the call from former Tipperary player John O’Dwyer.
“As I said I missed the winter period due to injuries and had to stop playing camogie for Jordanstown in second year because it all became too much so I was really surprised when I got the call from John to play for Derry.
“It’s something you grow up wanting to do and now I get to train alongside some of the country’s finest.
“I can tell you, you notice the step up immediately and I believe I’ve improved as a player from being part of the county set up which will also benefit my club.
“John has been excellent, he has brought a professionalism to the county as well with his trainings, preparation for games and by also having in sports psychology sessions.
“As he played for Tipperary he also understands the balance required between club and county.”
Camogie wasn’t always the first choice for Lauren, as a four or five year-old she played but give it up so after to concentrate on football and Irish dancing. It was her father Ciaran McKenna, a former Ballinascreen player who persuaded her to give it another chance and she certainly hasn’t looked back.
“I first played when I was four or five years old but stopped soon after and started playing football and Irish dancing.
“I think it was around Under 14 level that my daddy, who had played for ‘Screen for years persuaded me to give camogie another go, it also helped that my school friends were also playing for the team so it was a bit easier to go back and to be honest I don’t know what I’d do without it now,” she added.
When asked about how she managed to keep across her school work and various training sessions Lauren says “balance” was key.
“My scheduled was hectic and I’m thankful that my mum was able to drive me around and help make things run smoothly,'' she said.
“Nowadays there is so much demand on players so I would tell younger players out there not to overdo it. I played camogie, football and did Irish dancing as well and it all caught up with me and I had to give up my solo dancing career.
“If you don’t overdo it you can train and play to your potential, which means you’ll enjoy it more.”
One thing is certain, this 20-year-old is certainly enjoying her time and long may it continue.