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'She seems to have taken to it like a duck to water. It's great for Dublin, a new threat'

Dublin great Noelle Healy on the addition of Hannah Tyrrell, the current ladies football landscape and reflections on her own career.

Hannah Tyrrell.
Hannah Tyrrell.
Image: Inpho Sports.

DUBLIN GREAT NOELLE Healy says the addition of Hannah Tyrrell has been “a massive boost” for the four-in-a-row All-Ireland champions.

Former Ireland rugby star Tyrrell has been making impressive impact for Dublin since her return to inter-county football, with a couple of Player of the Match-winning displays and a Team of the League inclusion after scoring a remarkable 3-29 across five games.

30-year-old Tyrrell was in sensational form for the Sky Blues through the league, playing a key role in their second-ever Lidl Ladies National Football League Division 1 title lift.

Having excelled at out-half for Ireland in their most recent Six Nations campaign, the Na Fianna clubwoman has also emerged as a strong free-taker the Dubs.

Her arrival to Mick Bohan’s forward line has certainly softened the blow of Healy’s departure.

“She’s been a massive boost,” the recently retired 2017 Footballer of the Year told The42.

“I have known her for years. We played U14 together up to minor and then senior. She’s a lovely girl, great energy and seems to have taken to it like a duck to water and in the team environment.

“I can only imagine it might be intimidating coming into what is admittedly a very tight group, but they welcomed her with open arms. She has come from a professional background with the rugby Sevens and 15s, and she had a great 15s campaign so she came in with that fitness which helped her hit the ground running.

“But from watching her, she’s always aware, always active, always with her head up looking for options so I think she has brought a different dynamic to the team — and she has height too which is different to what Dublin have had before, and a left foot which is another option.

“We’re really excited to be watching her play and [seeing] how the team evolves around her. It’s great for Dublin, it’s a new threat they have and it gives some of the girls who have been on the fringes a bit of a push too. Competition is always a good thing.”

Tyrrell was one of 31 players Bohan used through a successful league campaign.

In recent years, Dublin utilised the early season competition to focus on blooding younger players and unearthing new gems on fringes with championship the main target.

It’s often been said there may have been a bit of a hangover from the previous season’s championship success too, but the Jackies found the perfect balance in 2021.

It’s fair to say that Dublin’s dominance shone through and a five-point decider win over arch-rivals Cork was the icing on the cake. The winning margin very easily could have been bigger, leading to debate after the final that the gap is widening.

But Healy doesn’t buy into that narrative, feeling Dublin will be challenged all the way through their Drive for Five, which begins against Tyrone this weekend.

“It’s summer, there’s a final in Croke Park, maybe some people thought of it as championship,” she said after the league showpiece.

“I think a lot of the teams are still boxing clever. I don’t think either team were going to show their full hand. Dublin didn’t get to see how they’d fare against Galway or Donegal, who I think are two serious contenders. I wouldn’t think that at all.

“Cork looked dangerous in some patches and I think they’d be disappointed with their final performance. They looked dangerous against Donegal and just didn’t click as well as they would have liked maybe against Dublin.

“I hope there’s a pretty exciting championship coming around this time again. If you look at who they [Dublin] could face in quarter-final if they top their group, it could be Donegal or Galway so there are a lot of tough matches coming down. No one will be getting complacent.”

Reflecting on her own glittering career in blue, Healy added: “Look, I suppose I was very fortunate.

bord-gais-energy-2021-legends-virtual-tour-series Noelle Healy pictured at home with some stand out medals and awards from her career. Noelle was helping to launch the Bord Gáis Energy GAA Legends Tour Series for 2021. Source: Brendan Moran/SPORTSFILE

“My first proper year of senior was 2010 and we won an All-Ireland final that year. The standout year for me personally, 2017 was a great year. Finally getting the monkey off your back and winning an All-Ireland was a phenomenal achievement and a phenomenal feeling.

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“Being selected as Player of the Year by your peers as well is always a very nice accolade and a nice nod. But I think it was more for us, as a team, what we managed to achieve.

“We’re quite proud of ourselves, being able to dust ourselves down after losing an All-Ireland final, bringing ourselves and our standards back up. 2016 was a really tough year, a lot of us probably questioned whether we would even continue or whether we were just frankly good enough to win. To have that turnaround was really satisfying for us.

“I think 2018 then, being able to back it up was phenomenal. Winning the league for the first time as well was great. Going down to Cork and getting to experience the journey with Mourneabbey as well was brilliant, but I think if I look back, the All-Ireland final in 2017 for me is probably my happiest moment.”

And looking at the bigger picture, her satisfaction and pride in helping create a culture and leave a legacy is a massive win.

“It would be heartbreaking if a few of us started to walk away and all of a sudden, it fell apart,” she agreed. “We always took great pride after appearing in All-Ireland finals, meeting younger players and seeing the excitement they got from that.

“Even some of the girls who would have played at half time, or attended the 2010 final or 2014 final and seeing them now being part of our team and having those experiences inspire them. It’s exactly the kind of legacy that you’d want to leave.

“From a success point of view, we’re still very much in our infancy in Dublin. We only won our first All-Ireland 11 years ago, and Dublin have only won their second league. You’d hope that it will continue to go from strength to strength underage. I know growing up, I think I was part of a group that won the first All-Ireland final at U14s.

“Dublin had a long way to go, and you’d hope that it will just continue to improve. I think it’s a great sport for younger girls to be involved in, I think team sports in general are great for girls to be involved in. If you can continue to inspire and encourage that, then job done, and if you get to collect a few medals along the way, sure that’s not too bad either.”

Screenshot 2020-11-24 at 9.04.07 AM

About the author:

Emma Duffy

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