A day in the life of Helena Lohan

A day in the life – Helena Lohan (Mayo captain) 

Mayo ladies captain, Helena Lohan, spoke to Padraig
Burns about the biggest day of her life

“Slept well enough on Saturday night. Just woke up once
during the night. Awoke finally at ten to eight in the
morning with a few butterflies in my stomach. I put
on my walkman and started listening to the Counting
Crows. Headed off to our first breakfast of cereal at
9a.m. By that stage I had stopped listening to the Counting
Crows and had moved on to U2. Had breakfast and went
outside for a light kick-about.

Came back in after about forty-five minutes to an hour.
Did light jog just to loosen up. Came in, showered and
back down for our second breakfast of bread and scrambled
eggs. That brought us up to about 11.45a.m. Had a team
meeting then in Canon Hall. Basically, it was all about
getting focused for the game after the craic earlier
on at breakfast.

There was one incident that cracked everyone up. One of our
players, who shall remain nameless, has a couple of teddy
bears that go everywhere with her. Anyway, on Sunday morning,
in between breakfasts, the teddies were left on their own
in her bedroom. One of the girls thought it would be a good
idea if she kidnapped them and left a ransom note. Basically,
the note suggested that if the owner of the teddy bears did
what she was meant to during the game she’d get them back
safe and sound. It didn’t end there though. A short while
later the distraught teddy bear owner received a phone call
and was told to look out a window. What did she see when she
looked out? The teddies of course hanging from a window. Needless
to say, words were exchanged but the good news is that the
teddy bears were returned safe and sound and they are alive
and well today.

We also had a team meeting on Saturday night when we went
through our tactical stuff but at this meeting. Finbar (Egan)
and Eugene (Lavin) spoke to us. They were just making sure
that our heads were right for the game. At that stage the
butterflies were back again. At about ten past-twleve we headed
back to our rooms. Relaxed, cleaned our boots. Met downstairs
at 1 p.m. Had a Garda Escort in from Maynooth. Don’t take
much notice of that at this stage but I suppose it is pretty
cool. The ‘Docs (Sawdoctors) tapes were on the bus. They have
a mixture of daft and psyching up songs and we listened to
the Green and Red of Mayo, ‘To Win Just Once’ and a few other
really good ones. The closer we get to the pitch it was all
the ‘Green and Red’, nothing else. Was getting really focused
at this stage and didn’t notice many people on the way to
the game.

We arrived in Croke Park at 1.40p.m. and we went straight
to the changing rooms. We left our gear there and walked to
the pitch and stayed out there for about five mintues of the
junior final. Went back in started getting ready. Those who
wanted physio got it from Eoin and James. Went to the warm
up area. There’s punch bags there and some people were using
them just to get the adrenalin going. After that it was back
into the dressing room and any last minute things were carried
out. I always have my walkman and I was listening to the Green
and Red of Mayo. It just completely gets me going. I kept
listening to it and it really did it for me. I just think
it’s a great motivational song and really inspiring. Then
Finbar came in and did the team talk. Eugene followed him.
I spoke then. Basically I said it was the final hurdle, the
final hour that we have worked so hard for all year long.
I just said to the girls to look around the room and see how
much we believed in each other and how lucky we were to have
such a wonderful group together. I tried to make the point
about how important it was to carry that bond we have out
on the pitch and keep going for the entire game, no matter
what happens. I actually brought in one particular line from
a ‘Docs song (‘never have considered losing, as if to win
is by your choosing ). It’s from ‘To Win Just Once. It’s one
of the two songs we always listen to on the big match days.
I said to the girls that there were no truer words. If we
wanted it bad enough we’d do it and play our hearts out. Everyone
relates to the ‘Docs. We all understand them and we know where
they’re coming from. That was it basically. We were all well
psyched at that stage. We kept our cool then and walked out
slowly. We knew it was twenty minutes to the game and we didn’t
want to leave all our energy inside in the dressing room.
That was the way we wanted it to be.

The parade was grand. Of all the times I’ve played in Croke
Park Sunday was the first time I was really calm and didn’t
get fazed by the crowd, stadium or the pitch. It was a great
feeling to feel such calm. We had our huddle then after the
anthem. I can’t remember what was actually said there but
Christina reminded everyone how important it was to be tuned
in because it was so hard to hear each other. She said we
had to be alert all the time.

I remember a fair bit of the first half. Our work rate was
excellent but we weren’t getting the breaks in the forward.
I was happy with the hunger we showed and I felt that if we
kept it up we were in with a chance. We sat down at half-time
and said to keep up the work rate and not to panic on the
ball. Finbar and Eugene said the frist half was over and we
were looking at another game in the second half. They asked
us all for 200% again. I felt that the first ten minutes were
going to be hard. My view was that we needed to keep upping
the gears all through and go until the hooter sounds. We were
under pressure for a lot of the second half. Funny thing is
I thought the game just flew by. I couldn’t see the clock
and the first time I saw it was after the goal. When Gemma
Fay scored the point to put them ahead I thought there was
plenty of time to go. I thought there were fifteen minutes
left and I couldn’t believe that there were just fifteen seconds
to go. It felt too good to be true. I Knew then that if we
kept it up the field we’d win.

The final whistle was pure relief and shock. Unreal. Fell
to the ground even though I told myself not to in the event
of us winning. The pitch invasion was incredible. Mayo supporters
are just amazing; they just never let us down. They’re always
there for us. After that it was time for presentation. I hadn’t
given it much thought even though I had the speech half prepared
a week beforehand. I felt if I thought too much about it it’d
be tempting fate. I thought I’d be really nervous when I was
going up to receive the cup and make the speech but I wasn’t.
I felt quite relaxed. It’s not the type of thing that you
do every day in your life. I thought I’d forget stuff but
I didn’t. Normally, I hate standing up in front of a group
of peole and I even find it hard at times to stand up in front
of the team and speak. But for some reason Sunday was different.

It took ages to get back to the dressingroom. Went to the
Dublin girls and said a few words. It’s not nice but it has
to be done. They were pretty down as you expect. Back to our
own dressing room to change then. After that it was back on
to the bus and we headed for the City West for the bandquet
later that night. The night went really quick there. There
was a lot of people there and the place is so big but I managed
to get around to most of the people I wanted to see. The band
finished playing at about four o’clock. At that stage we were
all pretty tired and it was time to get some sleep.”

Article kindy donated by the Western

Sign up to our email newsletter


Partners & Supporters





See all LGFAClubs