Teen rugby star from Enfield hoping to make international breakthrough

Jonathan Landi from Enfield Ignatians RFC on a bright young talent emerging from the club’s women’s division

Niamh Gallagher in action for Middlesex vs Essex and Herts
Niamh Gallagher in action for Middlesex vs Essex and Herts

Niamh Gallagher’s rugby journey has been a remarkable one – it has taken her from local rugby in Enfield to the fringes of international selection for Ireland Women’s under-20s team.

An eloquent rugby CV has been the pathway to two Irish squad sessions at the Irish Rugby Union Football High Performance Centre, Dublin, and the 18-year-old is hoping that she has shown enough to warrant further call ups.

Niamh said: “The games will take place later in the year. Around 36 girls attended each session. It can be quite daunting as you don’t know anyone and yet are required to train with players which you’ve never met before.

“One of the sessions was entirely dedicated to fitness drills and we were all drained at the end of the day. However, there is a fun element, too, and particularly when it came to queuing for food after training.”

Niamh’s dalliance with rugby began with tag sessions at St Edmund’s Catholic Primary School in Edmonton, where she was under the supervision of two members of Enfield Ignatians RFC, her teacher Wes da Silva and Hadee Fayaz, who advised her to join Enfield Tigers.

One of eight girls to join the fledgling Enfield Tigers (the girls’ section of Enfield Ignatians), she has since gained county honours for Middlesex, and honed her skills at two rugby centres of excellence.

She added: “I was part of the Wasps Centre of Excellence which sadly folded, and this meant transferring to the Thames Valley Centre of Excellence, Oxford.

“My parents drive me to all the sessions but the journey to Oxford was just too far. So I have since joined the Saracens Women’s under-18s side […] I’m enjoying the experience there.”

The former St Anne’s School pupil is currently studying at St Ignatius College. Aspiring to eventually to complete a sports science degree at university, she is certainly living the dream, and international selection would certainly be the proverbial icing on the cake.

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