I’ve been lucky enough to be asked to cover the All Ireland Ladies Football Final (this Sunday, September 27) by both the Dublin Gazette and Dublin GAA themselves, which means I’m lucky enough to have one of the most complete sets of interviews with the Dublin panel I believe is available anywhere in the build up to the finale, featuring five players (some of whom I interviewed ahead of the semi-final win against Armagh) and manager Greg McGonigle.
Cork will go into the final as favourites, having won nine of the last ten ladies All-Ireland titles, but with Dublin having run them extremely close last year, and made their way to the final fairly comfortably, they certainly can’t be ruled out.
The girls know far more about what’s going on than I do, of course, so without further ado, here are the complete set of interviews ahead of Sunday’s game:
Noelle Healy (St Brigids): “it’ll be a psychological battle as much as a physical battle”
Having joined the Dublin panel in 2007, Noelle Healy is one of the more experienced heads in the Dublin side, and one of the most committed. She was part of the side that made it to the All Ireland final in 2009, shortly after doing her leaving certificate, and has been a mainstay ever since, even whilst undertaking one of the most challenging qualifications on offer.
Earlier this year, Healy qualified as a doctor. “You’d be training evening and then have long days in college”, she explains “so you have to be quite prepared. There’s a need to be quite disciplined that means the two things kind of compliment each other. Then there’s the psychology and exercise side, nutrition and things like that. I’m also used to working in a team environment. Doctors very rarely work independently, they’re always part of a team, so I think that has helped me.”
What it does do, though, is impinge on social life. Being a top class athlete and hitting the town have never been known for their compatibility, and combining it with a heady study requirement is only going to exacerbate the problem. “I used to get a good bit of slagging from friends as a result,” Healy says.
“I’d never be out. I always wanted to do medicine. I always wanted to do well, rather than just scrape by. And with football, you kind of have no choice but to work hard. You need to be prepared. You need to have breakfast, lunch and dinner with you on the days you’re training. You need to have your stuff for hospital, and for college. You need to have an escape route, to think about how you’re going to get from college to hospital to training.”