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'As a player, she's exceptional, but she's an even better person and team-mate' - saluting a retiring Dublin star

Carla Rowe says that Noelle Healy will be ‘dearly missed’ as the 2017 Footballer of the Year calls time on a glittering inter-county career.

Carla Rowe (left) with the retiring Noelle Healy.
Carla Rowe (left) with the retiring Noelle Healy.
Image: Bryan Keane/INPHO

RETIRING DUBLIN STAR Noelle Healy is “one of a kind,” her four-in-a-row winning team-mate Carla Rowe says.

Healy, who finishes up with five All-Ireland titles to her name, brought the curtain down on a glittering inter-county career yesterday.

The 2017 Footballer of the Year bows out as a legend of the game, a simply exceptional player with a remarkable list of inter-county achievements to boot: on top of those five Celtic Crosses and Player of the Year award, there’s four All-Stars, 10 Leinster crowns, one Division 1 league title, and two Division 2 medals since making her debut in ‘07. Before that, she tasted All-Ireland success at U14, U16 and minor level.

Tributes have been pouring in from far and wide for Healy — who also won a club All-Ireland title with Mourneabbey in 2019 — with many of her team-mates sharing touching words online:

Speaking to The42 yesterday, Rowe said:

“There’s many players that you play alongside but there’s some that are just… you’ll remember them for the rest of your life. Noelle is definitely one of those. I said it to her herself, as a player, she’s exceptional, but she’s an even better person and team-mate.

“As a player, there’s no one like her. Any defender or any opponent, and even us at training, seeing her coming with a ball, we all know we have to be at our best to catch her!

Look, she’s had a fantastic career. It’s been an honour to be her team-mate and have her as part of the team, and she will be dearly missed. The door will always be open if ever she wants to come out of retirement,” she grins.

“But for now, we just wish her… she gave so many years to Dublin so we just wish her the best of luck in the next chapter.”

A hero on and off the field — she works as a doctor and anaesthetist, and has been on the frontline of the Covid-19 pandemic — Healy has spoken in the past about leaving the Dublin jersey in a better place.

“Once you get the chance to have it, you want to be able to bring it to as far a place as you can and to be able to achieve as much in it,” the St Brigid’s clubwoman noted on Blues Sisters. “It’s not about where you have the jersey, it’s where you leave it.”

There’s no doubt about it, 30-year-old certainly leaves it in a better place. Rowe wholeheartedly agrees.

“Oh, God. Yeah. She’s setting standards constantly with that jersey on her back. She probably epitomises putting the jersey on and leaving it in a better place. There’s very, very, very large and fast boots to be filled.”

Rowe is surely hoping that no one else follows Healy out the door, with captain Sinéad Aherne, Lyndsey Davey and Siobhan McGrath among the long-serving stalwarts in Mick Bohan’s set-up.

Healy’s loss is already a huge one, as is that of Sinéad Goldrick, who is facing a stint on the sidelines after undergoing surgery on her hamstring in Australia, having lined out with Melbourne in the 2021 AFLW season.

Niamh McEvoy and Lauren Magee also spent the opening months of this year Down Under, the former announcing her retirement from the Australian game last week.

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All focus is on Gaelic games once again, though, with Rowe and the Dublin panel reconvening for collective training yesterday morning, and it was a welcome return.

“Like every other county player and sportsperson in the country, we’ve been itching to get back now at this point,” the Clann Mhuire forward and nominee for 2020 Footballer of the Year said.

The first lockdown for sport, it was kind of like, ‘Ah, this is a bit of a break and a bit of a change, and it’s okay.’ But I think a lot of us really struggled with this one, just the fact that we weren’t training together.

“We’ve got those lovely long evenings coming where we’re used to being with each other, so we’re delighted. We were up early this morning but we’ll take it and we won’t complain. We’ll be back out later in the week, so it’s fantastic to get back in the routine and the games will come around fast so we’ve a lot of work to get done.”

Pitted in a group with arch-rivals Cork, Waterford and Tipperary for the 2021 Division 1 league campaign, which starts next month ahead of the Drive for Five, Rowe added:

“It’s a very exciting group, and we’ll have to be at our best, as soon as we can.”

Carla Rowe was speaking as Lidl Ireland announced it had become the first major retailer in the world to offer free period products in stores nationwide

Screenshot 2020-11-24 at 9.04.07 AM

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Emma Duffy

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