Grace Walsh: Covid makes you appreciate everything more 

'As I get older, I admire other athletes, like the Irish women’s hockey team. They’re incredible and what they did at the World Cup was just unbelievable'
Grace Walsh: Covid makes you appreciate everything more 

Kilkenny camogie star Grace Walsh with Grainne O'Brien, age 10, left, and Rachel McAuliffe, age 10, in Bruff GAA Club, Limerick, for the launch of this year's Kellogg's GAA Cúl Camps. Picture: Stephen McCarthy.

INTER-county GAA players need their fuel. But for Kilkenny camogie star Grace Walsh, getting her nutrients is doubly crucial, working as a clinical nurse during a pandemic.

“When I was on the wards, it was easy enough to balance everything,” Walsh says. “I didn’t train on the days I worked and I would go home to Kilkenny for training on my days off. We do long shifts, starting at 7.30am and finishing at 8pm, but it was only three days one week and four the next.”

The 27-year-old works in St Vincent’s hospital, in Dublin, and has just started a new role. “I now work five days a week, as I’m in a more specialised role. It’s still flexible, so I can get home to train, but you really have to be prepared food-wise. I plan and prepare my meals every Sunday now, whereas before I wouldn’t stress myself out about doing all my food shopping at the weekend. I would eat in the canteen at work on Monday and do my shop on Tuesday. Things have changed now, because I work Monday to Friday, so I have to prep my meals on the weekend.”

Another big change has been the ability to travel home freely over the summer. Before the last lockdown eased, the Tullaroan native went four months without seeing her parents and four brothers, including ex-hurling star, Tommy, and current Kilkenny player, Padraig.

“I cried the first time I saw them again,” Grace says. “We could Facetime and everything, but it was tough. Covid really makes you appreciate everything more.”

  • Grace Walsh is a Kellogg’s GAA Cúl Camps ambassador

What shape are you in?

I’m in good shape. Could I maybe do some more fitness training? Yes, especially when we want to try to reach the gold standard for championship, but I’m not doing too badly.

What are your healthiest eating habits?

I have decent eating habits. We learn a lot from the dieticians that work with the team. It’s all about planning and also being balanced. It’s important to allow yourself treats, as well. Otherwise, it’s not really sustainable.

What are your guiltiest pleasures?

Definitely crisps. My favourite is barbecue-flavoured Hula Hoops. Once I start, I can’t stop.

What would keep you awake at night?

Overthinking. I’m pretty good at keeping work at work, but I can be hard on myself with camogie. I’d sleep through anything besides the noise in my own head.

I grew up in a house of seven and I also get car sick, so to stop that happening I would always force myself to sleep when travelling as a child.

Even now, on the team bus, the day of a big match, I’m always asleep, music full blast in my ears.

How do you relax?

Chilling out on the couch. I live with four other girls and we love to just sit down, watch television, and chat.

Grace playing in the All-Ireland senior camogie championship final in Croke Park last year.
Grace playing in the All-Ireland senior camogie championship final in Croke Park last year.

Who are your sporting heroes?

Growing up, it would have been the Kilkenny hurlers, but as I get older, I admire other athletes, like the Irish women’s hockey team. They’re incredible and what they did at the World Cup was just unbelievable. One of my closest friends is the captain of the team.

What’s your favourite smell?

The smell of a new car.

When is the last time you cried?

The first time I saw my family again after lockdown.

What traits do you least like in others?

Selfishness and jealousy.

What traits do you least like about yourself?

I’m probably too hard on myself sometimes. If it was somebody else in my shoes, I’d be very positive, but I’m just not like that with myself.

Do you pray?

Yes. We had a really good family friend who was a Christian Brother. He passed away two years ago. The faith he had was incredible; it got me back into praying again.

What would cheer up your day?

Any kind gesture from someone. Even something small.

What quote inspires you most and why?

‘Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard enough.’ I think it’s a really good one to follow.

Where is your favourite place in the world?

Home. I’m there three days a week for training again and I just love it.

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