Women In Sport: Dublin's Noelle Healy
It's all to play for next Sunday (September 28th) when Dublin ladies football team take on Cork in the TG4 All-Ireland Ladies Senior football final.
Dublin have a tough task ahead of them if they are to knock reigning champions Cork off their current three-in-a-row pedestal. Not only that, but Cork have won eight out of the last nine senior football titles, with Dublin being the only team that put a blip in this record back in 2010 when they overcame Tyrone in the final.
The two sides last met in an All-Ireland decider back in 2009, and it was Cork who took the spoils that year, claiming another historic double - winning both the camogie and football.
As of last Sunday, Cork are now All-Ireland camogie champions once more and will be looking for their dual stars to scoop another All-Ireland when they face off to Dublin next Sunday.
The two sides have already met this year in the National League Division 1 final, which Cork won. Now Dublin, however, have other ideas and are determined to stop the Rebels' domination of the senior championship.
23-year-old star forward for the Dubs, Noelle Healy looks ahead to next Sunday’s game with a steely determination.
The Castleknock girl has been playing football for 14 years, hitting senior level back in 2007 at the age of 16.
She has won All-Ireland’s with Dublin at all levels from Under 14 right through to Senior, including Leinster championships.
Noelle in action during the Division One League Final this year.
The player is not just one of the shining stars of the Dublin forward line, but is also a final year Medicine student in UCD. Despite final year pressures, Noelle is all geared up for Sunday, in spite of the fact that she has to juggle life as a full-time student, a club and county player and the pressure of her sixth year in college.
“It can be really difficult to juggle it all,” she admits. “You just have to be really prepared and manage your time as efficiently as possible, if you've a spare hour you have to use it to make life easier for yourself down the line.
“Most days, I could be in college on placement from 7 in the morning and then have lectures until 6 o’clock in the evening. Then, I have to go straight from college to training, which can be tough.
“Trying to get enough water on board can be really difficult if I’m around the wards in the hospitals, and training three evenings a week doesn't leave much time for study, so I have to try get some done early in the mornings before placement.
“On the reverse of that though if I have a match at the weekend, I find I've to be careful of how much work I can do because I find it affects how I play in the games as well,” she continued.
“To find time to train with the club can be really difficult, but the girls in Brigid’s (Castleknock) are really understanding and the championship is during summer holidays usually so that's never a problem!
“As long as I stay on top of things, practice the practical things a good bit and accept that I can't know everything, it's manageable.”
For the Dublin player, fellow county star Alan Brogan is one of her sporting inspirations along with Elaine Kelly.
Noelle pictured during the Senior Championship quarter-final this year.
Despite everything going on in her life, though, Noelle is truly focused on the upcoming clash with Cork.
“I’m really looking forward to it. Cork are an amazing team and a great team to play against. They've got some of the best players in the country so it's great to put yourself up against players like that.
“It’s days like these that you remember that all the training and work is definitely worth it."
"We all know we're all putting the same into the team to get to our final goal so it’s easier when you’re all in the same boat. The reward is amazing and definitely worth it and my family and friends really get behind me and the team and share in the celebrations when we win or do well,” she continued, adding that her boyfriend Shane Supple who also plays Gaelic, is a big support to her.
Looking back over her career highlights, of which there have been many, Noelle remembers one in particular.
“Winning the minor All-Ireland in 2008 was definitely a highlight. It was amazing to finish under age having won everything with the same group of girls. Some of us are still playing together with Dublin now which is brilliant.
“The football girls are also of my best friends and the bond you make with them over the course of a season or two is really special and something that would be hard to just step away from. “
Dublin take on Cork in the TG4 All-Ireland Ladies Senior Football final on Sunday, September 28th, at 4pm. The game is the third of a triple header which sees New York take on Wexford at 11.45am in the junior final and Down take on Fermanagh at 1.45pm in the Intermediate championship final.