Noelle Healy: ‘People are able to recognise you a little bit more’

Dublin’s TG4 All-Ireland ladies senior football winner Noelle Healy received the Croke Park Hotel Player of the Month award for September yesterday. And she hopes to add to her awards collection at tonight’s TG4 All Stars ceremony, writes Jackie Cahill

Dublin’s TG4 All-Ireland ladies senior football winner Noelle Healy receivedthe Croke Park Hotel Player of the Month award for September yesterday.And she hopes to add to her awards collection at tonight’s TG4 AllStars ceremony.

Q: Noelle, how was Boston?

A: It was brilliant. We had a few days over there, so we got to explore the city a bit. A few of us took a trip down to Harvard,

and went around the campus and into the stadium as well. It’s such an iconic place. The city of Boston itself is gorgeous and the games themselves (Super 11s hurling) were great. It was a proper American experience — hot dogs at the ball game! We were up on the Bud Deck at Fenway

Park, before we were brought down to the dugout to watch the game from pitch-side, before heading out on the pitch.

Q: You’re back home now so it’s a case of back to reality?

A: Not just yet! I’m back into work on Monday — but I’ll be back with a bang!

Q: And you have the TG4 All-Stars to look forward this evening? You’re also nominated for an All-Star and the senior Players’ Player of the year award?

A: The All-Stars are always a special night — and this year it’s that little bit more special than the ones I’ve experienced before, because we’ll be going as winners, and we’ll be able to watch the videos showing the final and the journey. There’s a good few of us going and so hopefully the girls will get a good number (All-Stars) for Dublin, which would be great.

Q: How has life changed since September?

A: People are able to recognise you a little bit more. The game itself got so much coverage, and the sheer amount of people that watched it is ridiculous. There were so many people coming up and saying they watched the game and were so impressed with it. That’s the main difference for us.

Q: Bearing in mind the job you had to do on the pitch, were you able to
appreciate the magnitude of the crowd and atmosphere?

A: We were probably lucky that we had experienced that so many years before, and we knew what to expect. We knew the upper tier was open and that it was going to be a much bigger crowd than the year before. We got out at half-time in the intermediate game and got a taste of it but I think we were focused on getting through the warm-up and starting the game. That it looked so great with the upper tiers open and hearing the number as well was brilliant.

Q: Have you watched the game back since?

A: We all watched it together on the Monday in the Boar’s Head. What struck us was how fast-paced it was. I know it’s something we did appreciate in the match because for the first 20 minutes we could barely catch our breaths. We were lucky that the subs came on and gave so much energy. Sarah’s (McCaffrey) first touch had the ball in the back of the net and Hannah O’Neill nearly got in for a goal with her first touch and with her second, she had the confidence to kick a crossfield ball with the outside of the boot. Dee (Deirdre Murphy), Fiona (Hudson), and Molly (Lamb) were incredible, Dee and Fiona made such a difference in the backs, shoring things up and adding the extra bit of energy.

Q: When did the sense of satisfaction sink in?

A: In the dressing room afterwards. That has been such an awful place for the last few years. Waking up the next morning as well, not feeling that sadness and being able to have a smile and a joke with the girls over breakfast was special. It was just about being properly able to enjoy that second day, rather than drowning our sorrows.

Q: Next Monday evening on RTÉ, we’ll see the ‘Blues Sisters’ documentary about your season. What can we expect?

A: I think it will be a very honest representation of what we did and how our year went. I know there are some pretty honest and hard-hitting interviews, with players talking about their motivations and some of their struggles. It’s good to be able to see behind the player and that people who are successful are dealing with that as well. None of us have watched or seen it yet but judging how we got to know Pat (Comer, the director) from the few months he was with us, and seeing the other stuff they’ve done, it should be very good and will represent Ladies Football very well.

Q: Was it something you were comfortable with or did you have to get used to the idea of being filmed? After all, this was someone from outside your inner circle coming in to document some personal stuff?

A: When (team manager) Mick (Bohan) came to us, we were saying was this going to be a distraction and were people going to start playing to the cameras. But we had to be honest, we knew they were going to be following our journey and showing it, regardless so we could decide what type of ending we had and what we would be watching when we were sitting down in November. They got in early enough and so it wasn’t a distraction by the time the business end of the season came around. It was Pat himself with just his camera for a lot of the time, which wasn’t as intrusive as a whole film crew. There was once or twice when we were thinking ‘who are these strange men in our dressing room’ but we got used to it. AIG have been in around training a few times so it’s something (cameras) we’ve experienced before, and they were usually around for semi-finals and finals in previous years.

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