Growing up in Co. Limerick, Declan O’Rahilly played a bit of everything sport-wise. Once he got into secondary school became the focus.
It was during his time in secondary school that he also developed an interest in sports performance, which developed from his general love of sport.
“It was the passion for sport that led me down to trying to understand more about the science behind the sport and how to make people better,” he said.
From school, he became a personal trainer and worked in nearby Roscrea for a number of years after receiving a qualification in Exercise and Health Fitness
He then went on to study strength and conditioning in his native Limerick, receiving a first-class honours degree in the discipline in 2018.
During his time studying S&C, Declan was able to get valuable experience as the Lead S&C coach for the Tipperary Senior Camogie Team.
He then spent two months on an internship with Rugby Canada where he was responsible for things like performance testing, speed development, programme design, and injury rehabilitation.
Upon his return to Ireland, he began work for Tipperary GAA once more, this time filling the role as an S&C coach for the Minor footballers.
It was towards the end of his tenure with Tipp GAA that Declan got his first taste of teaching as an assistant lecturer with TUS. Shortly after taking up that role, he was offered a similar position with Portobello Institute, through a mutual connection.
“Susan [Giblin] actually worked with my wife with Tipperary GAA.
“It was through a conversation with Susan that Portobello came about. I got wind of them at that stage. I was doing work with TUS as well in terms of lecturing. So, I had previous experience with lecturing. Then the opportunity arose with Portobello on the MSc in Performance Analysis,” he said.
Declan now teaches on both the BSc and MSc in Performance Analysis at Portobello. He says that teaching gives him very similar satisfaction to his practitioner work.
“It’s similar to my coaching. I enjoy helping people.
“The main enjoyment in teaching comes from seeing students graduate, seeing them progress in their career and playing a small part in them developing academically and sometimes professionally as well,” he said.
Like many in his position, Declan finds working in education alongside being a practitioner very beneficial in staying on the top of his game.
“What you teach, and educate people on, you then get to put into practice. Educating people definitely keeps you upskilled in current research and new ideas. If you work in the industry as well, you get to practice what you’re preaching. They do compliment each other quite well,” he said.
Declan has been teaching in Portobello since the end of 2021 and has been enjoying his time so far.
“There’s a family feel to Portobello. Everyone there is willing to help you out.
“For me, my class numbers are small, so you get great interaction with the students. The student-tutor ratio is quite beneficial for the students in that they get a lot of time with the tutor. That aspect of it is great.”