In celebration of Women in Sport Week, we’re thrilled to shine a spotlight on Dannah O’Brien, a remarkable talent hailing from Tullow, who has made waves in the world of rugby both nationally and internationally. At just 19 years old, Dannah made her debut for Ireland against Japan during the inaugural Irish Women’s Summer Tour in 2022, marking the beginning of a promising career in rugby.

Dannah’s journey took a significant step forward when she signed her first professional contract with the IRFU in November 2022, solidifying her dedication and talent in the sport. Her prowess on the field was further demonstrated when she earned her first senior Leinster cap during the Vodafone Women’s Interprovincial Series in January 2023, starting in all three games. Additionally, Dannah’s skills were recognised when she was chosen for the Combined Provinces squad, a testament to her growing influence in the rugby community.

But Dannah’s athletic prowess extends beyond rugby. A versatile athlete, she has also showcased her talent in Gaelic football, representing Carlow at intercounty level before fully committing to rugby.

  1. Can you highlight any female role models whose achievements have inspired you, and how have they influenced your own journey?

Past players such as Nora Stapleton, Sene Naoupu, and Ciara Griffin inspired me when I was younger. Watching the Irish team on TV as a child always made me want to play for Ireland. I suppose that’s where the inspiration came from to play at this level but in more recent years, it’s been my own teammates who have pushed me to higher limits and brought out the best in me.

  1. How can female athletes in sports play a key role in motivating and encouraging young girls to actively engage in sports?

I think it’s important that the younger generation of girls can see that they can aspire to become professional athletes. Women’s sport is growing massively and now more than ever before, young girls can dream and also succeed in becoming professional athletes. It’s important that they have heroes to look up to and footsteps to follow. Also, reflecting on my rugby journey so far, it has always been the enjoyment of the game that has kept me showing up to every challenge along the way. The friendships and memories that I have made through rugby are irreplaceable and I think that’s what makes sport so special.

  1. In your experience, how has the landscape for women in sport evolved, and what positive changes do you anticipate for the next generation of female athletes?

I think women’s sport has evolved massively even since I was a child. With women’s rugby going professional in the last 2 years and the number of minis and youths teams increasing across the country, the future of women’s rugby has become more appealing for the next generation. I think it’s about creating popularity and getting women’s sport on TV screens. If young women can see the opportunity to excel and represent their country, they can allow themselves to dream big.

Dannah O’Brien’s journey exemplifies the spirit of resilience, dedication, and passion that defines Women in Sport Week. Her achievements on the field and commitment to inspiring the next generation of female athletes serve as a beacon of hope and empowerment for aspiring athletes everywhere. We look forward to witnessing her continued success on and off the field.