Noelle and the Dubs to keep on running
Dublin begin their Leinster Championship campaign this Sunday
NOELLE HEALY trained with a World Champion. She played with a few champions too.
She still holds fond memories of the time Eamonn Coghlan came to train her athletic club.
'The Chairman of the Boards' ran into history in 1983 when he became the World 5,000 metres champ.
He was one of Ireland's greatest athletes. And with a rub of the green, the boy from Drimnagh could well have added a couple of Olympic medals to his collection.
Noelle's days on the track have served her well. There's nobody quicker than the Brigid's Bolt.
Coghlan put in the miles, and the hours, in the Phoenix Park, and in America, and Noelle also knows the value of hard work.
"I was very fortunate to have played with highly motivated players over the years. People like Mary Nevin, Niamh McEvoy and Elaine Kelly, who were so professional in their approach.
"There were many others as well. When many of us young players joined the Dublin senior squad, Denise Masterson was a great role model for us.
"She was so professional. Everything was so structured in her approach to football. Aspects like her training, diet, and her overall preparation. She had a wonderful attitude. We were all lucky to have played with players like that."
And Noelle says that the sport is blessed to have such a legendary figure as Cora Staunton.
"'I'd say the Mayo men's teams would have liked to have her in their forward line over the years," smiles Dublin's brilliant half-forward.
"She's still producing it. She's as good as ever. Her standards haven't dropped at all. She was the top scorer again this year.
"She was selected on the League Team of the Year. Every single year, Cora just keeps on going."
The game's top goalkeeper, Cliodhna O'Connor, faced Cora many times. Cliodhna's gloves are now in the wardrobe.
And the Jackies have also had to carry on without the retired Denise Masterson, and also Siobhan McGrath and Sinead Aherne, who have taken a break from the sport.
"It has given some of the younger players the chance to step up. Olwen Carey has been a revelation. She's absolutely flying.
"And then you have the likes of Carla Rowe who has been very impressive again this season. Those that have come into the side have really made an impact. There's so many good minors and U21's coming through. "
Last season was a memorable one for the Blues. Their first Division 1 League final, and back in Croke Park for the All-Ireland final.
Cork denied them on both days, but there was much to be proud of.
"It was such an enjoyable season. We had great runs in the League and the All-Ireland. We didn't get the results we wanted, but we are now happy enough to start again."
And that road begins this Sunday in the TG4 Leinster Championship semi-final.
"They have brought in the new structure this year. This is our first game, and for us it was all about preparing as well as we could. It's about getting right for Sunday.
"We play our in-house games and we try to get the best out of each other and be ready."
Noelle has also been busy with St Brigid's. "Things are going well in the Championship. We drew with Fingallians and we beat Na Fianna. Those two teams were the champions in the last two years, so we are delighted."