2017 was some season for Dublin’s Noelle Healy as the St Brigids star put in a string of top class performances throughout the year to help her team win Leinster and All Ireland titles.
Those displays didn’t go unnoticed as Noelle scooped a multitude of awards including the player of the match awards in both the Leinster and All Ireland Finals, the We Are Dublin GAA Player Of The Year award, a TG4/LGFA All Star and the Players Player Of The Year to name but a few.
Another significant weekend awaits Noelle and her teammates as they return to Croke Park for the first time since they lifted the Brendan Martin Cup as their Lidl Ladies National Football League game against Cork forms part of a unique double header with the Allianz NFL encounter between Jim Gavin’s Dublin side and Donegal.
It’s a significant development that will further promote the ladies game to a wider audience on the stage it rightly deserves and Dublin’s flying forward Noelle Healy speaking to gaa.ie thinks it brilliant and makes sense.
“It’s not just Division One, it’s not just the big names like Mayo-Dublin or Mayo-Galway,” Healy says.
“It’s brilliant. It makes sense. If the teams are playing the same day, if it facilitates that both of them are at home then why not let the supporters watch teams and support both teams?
“It just makes sense. If you’re an inter-county footballer you want to be playing on the best pitches that are available. It’s brilliant, it’s absolute credit to the LGFA and the GAA for making it happen.”
It’s still only early February so teams are not yet operating on all cylinders and with some teams at different levels of fitness and team selections a bit of a lottery at this time of the year because of the added demands on college players in third level competitions it’s very hard to gauge where they are in terms of form or read much into results.
Even though tomorrow’s game might be a trip into the unknown for both sides in terms of how they are shaping up for the season ahead Healy admits that no matter when they play in GAA headquarters Dublin want to put themselves against the best teams.
“Anytime you get to play in Croke Park is great and you always want to be playing good teams to put yourself up against them so hopefully, it’ll be a good match.”
Just like in last years league campaign Dublin manager Mick Bohan has fielded experimental teams for the opening two games as he assesses the new players brought into the squad.
Despite that the girls in blue won both games and Noelle thinks it’s been a great start to the league and the new players have done well in what where two difficult away fixtures.
“Yeah, exactly, and two wins away from home as well,” Healy states. “The girls have done brilliantly.
“It was great to get the results so hopefully it will continue. It’s kind of hard. When you’ve three games in-a-row, it’s difficult to get back and get a breather and do any proper type of analysis on it, but hopefully there’ll be a bit of a break after it so we can take stock.”
Tomorrow’s game has all the hallmarks of being an early season classic involving two fierce rivals with the action getting underway at 5pm. The advice is to get in early to Croke Park so as not to miss any of the action from this clash of the titans.