Lockdown ‘is really, really tough’
Waterford camogie captain Niamh Rockett was born to play sports. Her father Eddie played hurling for the county and from a young age she had a hurl in her hand.
The Déise player didn’t stop there. While still in primary school, she also played hockey, soccer, and football. But an ongoing problem with her knees forced her to concentrate on one sport.
She was diagnosed with arthritis in her left knee aged 16. But instead of easing up, she continues to undergo intensive physiotherapy and trains relentlessly.
It comes as no surprise to hear she’s finding the lockdown “very, very tough”.
A determined optimist, the PE teacher is making the most of the situation. “I’m coping with training and teaching remotely at the moment,” she says. “I live on the farm at home, so there are always jobs to be done.”
One of five children, she shares a roof with her mum and two sisters. Her brother, who runs the family dairy farm, lives close by with his wife and three children aged five, three, and one.
When her sister-in-law, a speech and language therapist, is at work, she steps in to help with the childminding. “We are all in this together,”she says.
What shape are you in?
I teach from about nine to four and take a break at lunchtime when I do a bit of camogie, a bit of skills. In the evening I go for a run with my sister, she’s working from home as well. We can access the greenway from two fields behind our house. It’s ideal. We run for maybe 5 -6k.
What are your healthiest eating habits?
I do a lot of cooking for myself. When I was in college, living away from home, I got used to it. Most mornings, I’d have porridge with fruit, flaxseeds, chia seeds, and some honey. I use a lot of Daniel Davey’s recipes, and I follow a lot of food pages. My mam is delighted with all the and baking and cooking.
I’m a big baker, so I’ve a very, very big sweet tooth. I bake cheesecakes, or chocolate or biscuit cakes at least maybe once a week. What I’m into now is Kinder Maxi cookie bars.
What would keep you awake at night?
Sometimes if you are after having a bad game or if the mood isn’t right in the camp or if you’re coming up to a game, that’ll keep me awake. In a different sense, having arthritis, after a game my knee would be absolutely in bits — really, really sore. Not only would I be thinking of the game, I wouldn’t be able to sleep because of my knee. I would have to take painkillers, anti-inflammatories and stuff like that.
How do you relax?
A bit of baking and reading. I like to go walking. I like to explore places, different mountain walks, and chill out. We’re lucky at home the Comeragh mountains are at our doorstep. I’m a sports enthusiast, so watching sports or playing sports, I’d play anything. I’m always on the go.
I struggled massively at the start of lockdown to unwind. I was getting up at quarter to seven every morning and my commute to school was an hour. Between that and grinds and training and trying to see friends, I’m always on the go. It’s really, really tough. I think a lot of people are in the same boat.
Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?
I really, really admire Katie Taylor for everything she has done. I’m a bit fascinated by Joe Schmidt because I want to know what makes him such a good leader/coach. And for a bit of fun, I’d love Doireann Garrihy. I think I’ve the exact same sense of humour as her, I’d be a bit of a messer as well.
I’m big into music — I’m learning the guitar at the moment. Chris Martin is someone I’d love to have over, I’ve been to see Coldplay concerts and they are unbelievable.
What’s your favourite smell?
I love Laura Mercier’s Crème Brûlée Body Crème. You’d nearly eat it off yourself.
What would you like to change about your appearance?
I’m into my appearance. I wear a bit of fake tan so the scars on my knee from the three operations I’ve had don’t really go well with the fake tan — I’d like to get rid of those scars. A new left knee would be ideal, to be honest with you.
When is the last time you cried?
The last time was at a friend’s funeral a few months ago. That was really upsetting. Other than that I’d be very emotional after losing a big match, like a quarter-final — all the photographers seem to pap me when I’m crying and it’s not a pretty sight.
What traits do you least like in others?
Someone who is not honest or straight up, that would really, really frustrate me.
A lot of people say that I’m stubborn. I would have to go with that.
Do you pray?
My grandmother passed away last year but we couldn’t have the anniversary due to Covid-19. We won the All-Ireland junior and intermediate titles in 2011 and 2015, and she was at both. She was a massive follower of Waterford camogie. I miss ringing her up after matches and calling into her. I would pray to her, especially coming up to games.
What would cheer up your day?
Seeing my niece and nephews. They don’t really care what’s going on in your life; they are just happy to see you, to play with you. They always cheer me up any time I go down to see them. We’re all very, very close. They light up your day.