No regrets

'Worth it' - Missing a Leaving Cert holiday to Magaluf for a first Leinster final with Dublin

Niamh Hetherton helped her side to an eighth provincial title in-a-row in her first championship start.

RISING DUBLIN STAR Niamh Hetherton says missing out on a Leaving Cert holiday in Magaluf to play in her first senior Leinster final was “worth it.”

AIG Dublin GAA Jersey Takeover Niamh Hetherton is on the rise with the Dublin Ladies. Sam Barnes / SPORTSFILE Sam Barnes / SPORTSFILE / SPORTSFILE

The 18-year-old had planned a trip to the famous Spanish resort with her friends to celebrate finishing her exams. But shortly after the end of the league, she decided to stay put and commit to the Dublin footballers for the summer. 

This is her first season with the squad and her dedication was rewarded with a championship debut in the Leinster final last month, where victory over Westmeath secured their eighth Leinster title in-a-row.

“I had it booked but I’ll get over it,” beams the Clontarf player who has no regrets about the choice she made.

The girls went but I stayed obviously and it was good. Worth it. The Leinster final fell in the middle of it so I didn’t mind.

“It was a great game. We only pulled away in the last ten minutes when we got two goals. Obviously we wanted a tough game and that’s what we got thank God.

“Growing up all you want to do is play with Dublin and then when you finally get the call up it’s unbelievable.”

Hetherton’s friends kept in touch with “plenty of videos” while they were on holiday.

It was difficult initially to see the fun she was missing out on, but she soon came to terms with her decision and realised that competing for silverware with Dublin was her priority for now.

“I suppose I just kind of sucked it up and it’s worth it now. We’ll just have to wait until it’s all over and then I’ll go away.”

Mick Bohan celebrates at the final whistle Dublin ladies boss Mick Bohan Tommy Dickson / INPHO Tommy Dickson / INPHO / INPHO

Hetherton explains that manager Mick Bohan understood that she needed to focus on her studies while preparing for the Leaving Cert and was flexible with her availability for training.

But despite the freedom that was given to her, she continued to train with Dublin throughout her exams.

Even the potential impact of injuring her hands or fingers couldn’t deter her from attending the sessions. 

“Small chance of that happening so it was fine,” she smiles. “Yeah, Mam couldn’t keep me away from that.”

Hetherton comes into the Dublin camp on the back of winning an All-Ireland intermediate club title with Clontarf last December, scoring one point from play on the way to a comprehensive win over Monaghan side Emmet Óg in Parnell Park.

She also comes from a family that’s steeped in GAA. Her brother John plays with the Dublin senior hurlers, while her mother is a two-time All-Ireland winner.

Niamh Hetherton Hetherton in action for Clontarf in the All-Ireland intermediate club final. Laszlo Geczo / INPHO Laszlo Geczo / INPHO / INPHO

There’s plenty of pedigree in her genes, but as the youngest player on the Dublin panel, there were some nerves when she first came on board.

“When I got called up and went to my first session, obviously I was going to be nervous,” Hetherton recalls.

“But a few of the girls that I would have played minor with were up as development [players] at the end of last year so they were kind of used to it and I was clinging on to them and making sure I wasn’t too lonely.

“That made it easier but it was still daunting. I’m proud of it now so it’s good.”

Dublin found it difficult to shake off Westmeath in the Leinster decider, leading by just four points at half-time before powering to victory with a late brace of goals in the second half.

Bohan’s side are in Group 2 for the All-Ireland series as they target a third successive All-Ireland title later this year. A battle against Waterford awaits Dublin this weekend followed by a meeting with Monaghan later in the month.

“I haven’t played Waterford before so it would be a good test,” says Hetherton.

“They played Cork in the Munster final and I don’t think Cork beat them too badly. It would be a good test and good to get good games in.”

Niamh Hetherton was at the launch of AIG Ireland’s announcement that the logo of the 20×20 campaign will replace their logo on the front of the Dublin GAA jersey for upcoming ladies’ football, camogie, football & hurling fixtures.

The campaign aims to promote awareness of the “If She Can’t See It, She Can’t Be It” initiative.

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