Postgraduate profile: Lorna Barry

"I've had the pleasure of working with top Canadian athletes."
Rugby scrum

PRIMARY DEGREE: BSc Sport and Exercise Sciences, University of Limerick

POSTGRAD DEGREE: MSc Sports Performance, University of Limerick.

GRADUATE EMPLOYMENT: Strength and Conditioning Intern with Rugby Canada

I have always had a keen interest in sport, I typically played Gaelic football during my secondary school and I began playing with the University side and UL Bohemians club side.

When I left university after my undergraduate degree I was determined to head out into the working world and get as much hands on experience as possible in the industry. I was very aware that if I didn’t apply what I had learned, I would lose it very quickly. Despite my work experience however, after two years I noticed that to progress any further and get to work at an elite level, I was going to need a higher level of education in a sport specific course.

Further study

My postgraduate degree was very similar to my undergraduate degree in terms of content but it had a more specific focus on the practical information needed to work in the industry at a high level. Looking back on the course content and pace, I now realise that we covered a huge amount in a very short space of time.

The content was very practical and most lecturers based their lectures on events that would typically occur in the outside world. This made absorbing the information much easier.

We also had a semester set aside for problem based learning where the lecturer posed different real world scenarios, often with an actual athlete with a specific performance related problem, and we had to work through the issue in order to help them improve their performance. This allowed us to utilise and get familiar with a lot of the PESS sport science equipment which has proved very useful in my current role.

The University of Limerick has its own building set aside for just sport science and physical education students. The department has fully equipped labs for each area of study. This includes a Performance Analysis suite for the use of Sports Code software, a strength and conditioning room for practical teaching of resistance training, and a physiology lab where much of the human performance testing can be carried out.

Gaining Expertise

The MSc is designed to give you a good working knowledge of several areas of elite performance. I found that by getting a good foundation in nutrition, performance analysis and strength and conditioning that I had covered the major areas in terms of sports performance. Since leaving university I have found that my knowledge base in these three components has made me more versatile and useful to a team, as one person can look after three areas as opposed to three separate specialists having to travel to an event - which is often cost prohibitive.

With this type of postgraduate study you have to expect to work hard and put aside a lot of external commitments in order to get the most out of the course. It takes plenty of dedication but the work is interesting and the environment is friendly so you don’t really mind not having a social life for twelve months.

Graduate Employment

Rugby Canada recruited me for a strength and conditioning internship solely through the Sports Science department in Limerick while I was doing my MSc. They emailed out the offer to all senior students and I decided to apply. As a result, I have had the pleasure of working with some top Canadian athletes including the senior men’s sevens and under 20’s sides. In terms of the future, I would like to continue to progress in the job I am in but I am still keen to learn and educate myself so I wouldn’t rule out a PhD at some point in the future.

Lorna was interviewed for gradireland/postgradireland Directory 2013/14.