Session 4 of Forerunners Report with Cliodhna O’Connor


Athletics Ireland’s Forerunners welcomed Cliodhna O’Connor to the group on the 1st of December. Cliodhna O’Connor is a coach educator and athlete developer with the LGFA and boasts a number of sporting accolades in Gaelic football. Cliodhna is an All-Ireland Football winner, Dublin Captain in 2011 and All-Star winner.  Cliodhna has both improved and raised the standards of sport through her coaching and development strategies.

Cliodhna discussed how the Forerunners group can be more efficient with their club operations as leaders. She shared her own personal leadership learnings through the years which was very insightful and was very open and honest about all her experiences. The group were encouraged to enhance their own self-awareness, understand their strengths and weaknesses, and identify what skills or attributes to fulfil their ambitions and achieve goals.

Cliodhna appreciated the fantastic work that has been achieved by our clubs, all in a volunteer capacity. She noted that this can also pose various challenges for clubs, but encouraged the group to be inclusive to all, regardless of ability, commitment, or ambitions. Cliodhna offered some advice to participants and encouraged collaboration within clubs and amongst members. She emphasised the importance of ‘club nurture’, by identifying those who can positively impact the club and effect change.

Athletics is an individual endeavour and often people who stick with it are people who enjoy that aspect. However, within the club environment and within training groups, there are concepts from team sports that we could use in an effective way to benefit our clubs. The Forerunners group were encouraged to promote team cohesion amongst their training groups. Cliodhna shared her top tips for positive team club culture in an individual sport:

1. Give people opportunities to help each other and work together. Buddy systems are useful. Warms ups and cool downs are a great opportunity to get athletes to mix.
2. Can you set a group target for your group? Gather team averages from tasks and challenges, which encourages teamwork and communication.
3. Can you operate as coaching teams? Community of practice with your own club or neighbouring clubs.
4. Direct Questions- how can we empower our athletes? Constructive athletics conversation? What questions do you need to pose to stimulate conversation?

The Forerunners group want to say a huge thank you to Cliodhna for her presentation and knowledge as she facilitated some fantastic discussions and motivated the group to be more reflective going forward!

For more information on the Forerunners programme, please contact


Click HERE for reports on session 1,2, and 3.

Newsletter sign up

Sign-up for the Athletics Ireland E-Zine with exclusive interviews, coaching news and offers!

Which of the following best describes you?