Position: Second Row/Back Row
Birthplace: Churchtown, North Cork
Height: 1.70m (5'6")
Club: Highfield RFC
Honours: Munster & Ireland
Originally from Chruchtown, North Cork, Heather O'Brien began her rugby career at Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh while studying physiotherapy. Following her move back to Ireland she played with Boyne RFC in Drogheda before relocating to Cork and is now in her sixth season with Highfield RFC.
Heather took over the captaincy of Highfield last season in a memorable year where they claimed the Munster Women's Cup and the All Ireland Cup. Highfield have continued with their winning ways and last week defeated holders UL Bohemian to move into second place of Division 1 in the All Ireland League. "My Dad played rugby with our local club Mallow RFC and because of him the sport was always a big part of our family lives growing up" said Heather. "Mallow didn't have a girls' structure when I was young which is why my playing career developed later on. I'm delighted to say girls' rugby has since been introduced at the club and is doing really well - there is great interest from the members who are very much behind girls getting involved in rugby at all levels which is brilliant".
Heather, who is also a keep equestrian, welcomes the re-introduction of girls' underage rugby to her own club Highfield and is confident their successful women's rugby section will continue to flourish. "Girls rugby being re-established at the club has generated a lot of enthusiasm. It's very much a try out rugby and have fun philosophy and is proving to be very popular", said Heather. "The women's team at Highfield has always had great support from the club. Tom Redmond, last year's Club President attended all our matches and was so keen to get involved in every aspect of the women's game which was very much appreciated. Our Head Coach Derek Houlihan is part of the men's senior squad and his rugby experience has been of immense benefit to us over the past two seasons. He's unable to play at the minute due to injury and is now giving us all his time which is fantastic ".
Goals For The Season
With three victories out of four so far this season Heather says her goal is to captain Highfield to winning the league for the first time in the club's history. "The league is always our target. You don't enter something to come second and we're really confident we can do well this season. There is a great squad in place who put in an enormous amount of work. We train twice a week - Monday and Wednesday as well as gym sessions. I'm in the gym at 6 a.m. four mornings a week before I head off to work. The other girls are putting the same amount of commitment in which is a testament to the dedicated players we have in our squad."
Country & Province
As well as being an Ireland international Heather has been involved with the Munster squad for the past four seasons and last year captained her province to an interprovincial win. "My long term goal is to retain the 6 Nations title for Ireland but for now it's a long way off. At the moment I'm just looking at the league and when that finishes I'll look towards the Interprovincials. The competition for places on the Munster team is huge this year which is great - you need competition for places to be successful. That's starting to develop more and more in women's rugby - you're fighting for your position at club level, for your province and then you're hoping that you'll put in a good enough performance to get noticed for the national jersey. You devote a huge amount of time to achieve your goals but you also get a huge amount back too. People dream of wearing a Munster and Ireland jersey so when you get it you fight to keep it and I'm looking forward to the challenge."
Interprovincial Fixtures 2013/14
Saturday, November 30th, Connacht v Munster, Sportsground, Kick-off TBC
Sunday, December 8th, Munster v Ulster, Clonmel RFC, Kick-off 1pm
Saturday, December 14th, Munster v Leinster, Thomond Park, Kick-off 1pm
Highfield Women's squad season 2013/14 pictured with Captain Heather O'Brien
To view All Ireland League Fixtures click here