Noelle Healy: “it’ll be a psychological battle as much as a physical battle”

Noelle Healy: “it’ll be a psychological battle as much as a physical battle”


Having joined the Dublin senior panel in 2007, Noelle Healy is one of the more experienced heads in the Dublin side, and one of the most committed. She was part of the side that made it to the All- Ireland final in 2009, shortly after doing her leaving certificate, and has been a mainstay ever since, even whilst undertaking one of the most challenging qualifications on offer.


Earlier this year, Healy qualified as a doctor. “You’d be training evening and then have long days in college”, she explains “so you have to be quite prepared. There’s a need to be quite disciplined that means the two things kind of complement each other. Then there’s the psychology and exercise side, nutrition and things like that. I’m also used to working in a team environment. Doctors very rarely work independently; they’re always part of a team, so I think that has helped me.”


What it does do, though, is impinge on social life. Being a top class athlete and hitting the town have never been known for their compatibility, and combining it with a heady study requirement is only going to exacerbate the problem.  “I used to get a good bit of slagging from friends as a result,” Healy says.


“I’d never be out. I always wanted to do medicine. I always wanted to do well, rather than just scrape by. And with football, you kind of have no choice but to work hard. You need to be prepared. You need to have breakfast, lunch and dinner with you on the days you’re training. You need to have your stuff for hospital, and for college. You need to have an escape route, to think about how you’re going to get from college to hospital to training.”


“I think I just got to know that I’d have training three times a week, at a certain time, and I worked around that. I knew that I’d only have two hours before training and one hour after training some days to get everything done. I had to be very organised. But it’s worth it.”


Of course, having been on the panel a while, Healy is more naturally prepared for the big day than most. She recalls the influx of minors, placing it alongside the strange experience of suddenly becoming one of the ‘older’ players.


“Myself, Sinead Goldrick and Niamh McEvoy were the youngest for a good while,” she explains. “It’s been a huge overhaul. All of a sudden we were amongst the oldest. We’re still relatively young, but there’s been a few really good young players. They’re very ready. Underage is a very high quality structure. We’ve had some minors that have come up just after finishing minor, and physically they might be a bit weaker, but from a talent and attitude point of view, they’re virtually the same.”


The work that’s been put in is quickly labelled as a plus, not a stress. “We have to enjoy the small extra parts that come with a final,” Healy explains. “We’re training under floodlights during the cold, wet, dark nights and there’s such a fantastic buzz. The players who get there are the only ones who can really understand what it’s like. We don’t try and make a battle of it. For us, it’s an event, something to soak in and enjoy. We’ve been focusing on ourselves, making sure we gel and really play together. That we can run through our moves in front of a crowd of 27,000, deal with the noise, and connect with the person 20ft in front of you.”


That doesn’t mean opponents Cork are completely off the agenda, of course. The history is a difficult topic to avoid in the context of another final, and Healy looks at the two sides’ history and admits that it’s not going to be easy. She says difficulties on the day are as likely to be psychological as physical, especially given Cork’s emphatic record against the girls in blue.


“From a talent point of view, I don’t think there’s much between us and Cork at all,” she argues. “I suppose we’ve been ahead by 9 points, 6 points and 10 points in games and they’ve come back over the last couple of seasons. There must be a psychological aspect. They’re extremely psychologically strong, I think. They don’t know when they’re beaten, they chip away and play until the last minute. I think it’ll be a psychological battle as much as a physical battle, but it’ll depend a lot on the way the game goes.”


Lessons taken from the victory over Armagh – which seemed to come relatively easily from an outsider’s perspective – have taught the Dubs some critical skills, though, in particular around holding onto leads.


“We’d watched Armagh play, and they looked a really tough team. They really made Donegal work hard. Donegal have two of the top forwards in the league, and Armagh really kept them quite quiet. They scored some huge points from distance, too. It was probably one of the most nervous I’ve ever been for a game to be honest. But when we got into it, we really went through them very quickly. I think from the first five minutes, when we’d scored 1-5; we always knew we were going to win. But we’ve been in that situation before. It taught us to hold on to a lead, I guess.”


It would come as a shock to everyone in the audience if either side feels the game is over in the first five minutes come the 27th, so Dublin’s new, tougher approach is likely to come into play. With her mind trained to deal with medical scenarios and hospital pressures, Healy looks a key asset.


Sign up to our email newsletter


Partners & Supporters





See all LGFAClubs