Noelle Healy’s delicate operation balancing work and football

Noelle Healy of Dublin with the Brendan Martin Cup. Picture: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Working in Dublin’s Beaumont Hospital, Noelle Healy has her good days and bad days. She’s seen things she probably wouldn’t want you to see and after a stint with the Mater’s cardiology team, Healy is now specialising in anaesthesia.

Six more years of training lie in store before Healy is fully qualified as a doctor but Dublin’s ladies senior football team captain thoroughly enjoys the juggle of hectic professional and sporting lives.

Recently, RTÉ’s cameras visited Beaumont to film ‘Keeping Ireland Alive’ — a documentary series offering an insight into the country’s health service. Healy smiles: “I managed to avoid the cameras when they were in there!

“When we got the brief about it, I thought it would be just in around the hospital but what’s great about it is they show an awful lot from the patients’ point of view so it gives both sides really well. It is important for the public to see what it’s like to work in healthcare but it’s also really important for us to see what it’s like to be a patient. For you, it’s just another day at work but for somebody else, it’s probably the worst day of their lives or one of the best day of their lives. You have to keep that in the back of your mind all the time.”

Training at DCU, the logistics are manageable. When she was studying at UCD, it was often problematic getting across town in time for training but it’s easier now given she is based on the Northside for work. This time last year, Healy took a couple of days off before the TG4 All-Ireland final against Cork to prepare for the decider.

But instead of tuning out fully, the St Brigid’s (Castleknock) player found herself twiddling her thumbs wishing her mind was occupied.

And so, this week, she’s stuck to her normal routine and the hard-running half- forward will work right up until the weekend. Preparation is key for Healy, who knows that she must plan her days well.

She explains: “You have your food ready, gear ready and you’ve allotted your time to get your work done that you need to get done. And you need to enjoy it when you’re in football, that you’re focusing on football and not on work.

“And when you’re in work, you’re concentrating on work and not letting yourself be distracted by football. Both of them can be very insular.

“People who do medicine tend to hang around with people who do medicine and football is probably the same. You have strict head-space for the two.” Healy spends the vast majority of her time in Beaumont in theatre, where experiences can be either exhilarating or upsetting.

She reveals: “You see a lot of tragic stuff and a lot of great stuff. You have some very difficult days and you have some great days. There’s a great team ethos and people really look out for each other. There’s a great bit of fun and it’s tough work as well but really rewarding.

“There was one person that stood out in my mind, when I had her chart she had the same date of birth, the same year of birth as me, she’d been through a horrible time but she came in, this was her one appointment and she said ‘I’m going to go back to college now and I’m going to work’, whereas I was thinking ‘oh I’ve to go to training now and I’m so tired, there’s nothing to complain about’.

On an almost daily basis, Healy works in a highly- pressurised environment and that’s where she’ll find herself next Sunday when Dublin lock horns with champions Cork. She says: “When it is high pressure stuff, you have to think quickly, you have to kind of know where your greatest resources are and be able to communicate well. Communicate clearly and define who is going to be the leader at that stage and who’s going to take control, so from that point of view they complement each other.”


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