Dublin’s Niamh McEvoy is gearing up for a very busy few weeks as she prepares for the start Gourmet Food Parlour HEC championships with DIT and the Lidl Ladies National Football League with reigning Champions Dublin.
Three time All Ireland winner McEvoy recently left her full time role as a teacher to return to college to study Business and Entrepreneurship at DIT.
A return to college meant a return to higher education football and at this weeks official launch of the HEC championships in GFP’s Northwood branch in Santry, the St Sylvesters star expressed how much she is looking forward to the upcoming competition.
“I can’t wait its a lovely time of year to be playing football at a competitive level it’s unusual for me I was involved with Marino in my undergrad a good few years ago now.”
“But it’s a lovely competition and it’s great to be involved and it’s great to be involved with the upcoming crop of inter-county players it’s great to see the talent that’s coming through from the different counties and yes I’m really really enjoying it, DIT is great their academic support for athletes is brilliant so I’m having a great time.”
Niamh McEvoy played in the competition a few years back with the Marino Institute of Education when she was studying her undergrad but second time round has noticed how much both the competition and the standard of football has come on.
“I think the competition has come on in leaps and bounds when I was with Marino the All Ireland Finals were in separate locations, but now they’ve brought together all the divisions and they are playing the one weekend, it’s a great opportunity for people to get out and see players from all over the country and all different levels playing and competing in All Ireland Finals and All Ireland campaigns.”
“I think it’s a really really special competition and gives girls the opportunity that might not otherwise have the opportunity to play in all Ireland finals and I certainly don’t take it for granted it’s a competition i really really respect.”
College teams are made up of players from all over the country and that means some players find themselves facing off against some of their own inter-county teammates.
Niamh is enjoying getting to know the girls from the other counties on her team but finds herself in the unusual situation of discussing with players from around the country about how to mark her fellow Dublin players that her DIT team face.
“Yeah it is funny I’ll be playing against girls who obviously would play for Dublin as well and you find yourself telling these country girls how you feel that Dublin player should be marked which is a bit unusual and something you wouldn’t imagine ever doing.”
It’s great to get to know girls from other counties I think that’s something that’s really nice about the ladies game, we kill each other on the pitch but were all great friends off it so it is a nice sentiment in that sense with regards to the sport.”
The HEC championships is a short competition but they take place at the same time as the opening rounds of National Football League begin and for players like Niamh McEvoy it’s all about getting the balance right between her Dublin and college commitments.
“I’m really lucky Mick (Bohan) is really good and is really easy to talk to there would never be a player welfare issue there, if you’re ever feeling tired you could definitely go up and tell him and similarly Sean O’Reilly who is involved DIT he is very good, there was a couple of games in the league there where I was kind of wrapped up in bubblewrap, he would’ve just given me cameo roles and stuff depending on how the match is going so I’m really lucky that both managers are really understanding and are well aware of burnout and stuff.”
“So I don’t find it an overload I’m still only training the same amount that I would be I’m just mixing the odd session with either team or i’m kind of present but not training so I am lucky, so I will just kind of encourage any girls who would be in my situation to be open and honest with their managers about playing too much.”
“I’ve seen it before where maybe players have felt under pressure, but thankfully the onus is not on me at all it’s between the management so it takes away some of that added pressure, so if you were to find yourself in that position I would just encourage people to be honest.”
“As I said I’m really lucky that pressure is not on me that’s something that the management deal with and I don’t have to make any decisions there regarding where i train on or what night it just depends on what is coming up, so obviously at the minute the colleges is in the most important part of their season so I am being released to the college a bit more then maybe I will be as the season goes on.”
DIT get their Lynch Cup campaign up and running against IT Tralee away from home, it will be a big opening test but Niamh McEvoy expects every game in the highly competitive competition to be tough and says herself and her teammates will have to produce their best in every match if they are to be successful.
“We have a journey on our hands that day, we have to travel for our first two games down the country but you know we’ve been quietly working hard and we are really looking forward to going back out for a friendly next Wednesday and we are looking forward to concentrate now on ourselves and get things right for ourselves because obviously the group had a bit of a break over the Christmas so we’re looking forward to it a lot.”
“IT Tralee obviously are a formidable enough side so we know will have our work cut out for us in every game not just in the first one or second one but for quarter-final, semi-final and final, so you need to be producing you’re best stuff every time you go out because as I said it’s an extremely competitive competition.”
Looking at her own team Niamh was really impressed by one of her own fellow county players not just in her application during matches, but also her attitude to training and is also equally impressed by some of the country girls on the panel, but the wily campaigner wasn’t about to name check them all and give too much away.
“My own team, Hannah Leavy she was the player of the match in the league final, she is just up there from the Dublin minors, she’s just really got a phenomenal attitude, the way she trains is similar to someone way beyond her years.”
“She was involved in really good underage systems in Dublin with Gregory McGonigle and Bobby McNulty and she has a really good attitude, she was player of the match in the league final she came from wing-back to score 1-02, her work rate is great and from the defending side of things she is brilliant, she has come on a lot from being involved in the Dublin set-up as well.”
“And then just girls in the country as well as I mentioned already Sarah McCabe she’s been brilliant she’s been leading from the front, the way she trains is phenomenal as well, there’s more than just the two but I won’t be giving away too much.”
With the announcement of 13 upcoming double-headers in the National Football League including two games in Croke Park for Dublin, Niamh McEvoy expressed how brilliant that was for the game and how it will add to the profile of the sport.
She also said she would encourage people who where at the All Ireland Final and expressed how much they enjoyed the spectacle to get out and attend more games throughout the year.
“Yes it’s brilliant for the sport you know I’ve been around a long time and usually you only get to play in Croke Park if you make it to the last day of the summer, so we are very lucky to be involved at this time and long may it continue.”
“Hopefully we continue to get more double headers as we go on, I think the standard of the game has really really improved and the spectacle has improved and people are really really enjoying the sport and not just as a family occasion as something to just go and attend but actually the skill and the encounter and what’s actually happening on the day and hopefully this will add to the profile of the game.”
“Something that’s really struck me over the last two or three years is the amount of people who have said, nearly with surprise in their voice, that was some game and I really really enjoyed it.”
“I would just kinda say to those people that come out to watch the All Ireland Final and say that was a brilliant spectacle to watch and I really enjoyed it, it was really exciting, I would just encourage those people to get out and come along more times in the year and travel down the country, because obviously there is more than just one thrilling game a year, some of the encounters you have in the All Ireland series or even before that in the provincial Championships are brilliant.”
“I know Mayo and Galway always have epic encounters in the Connaught championship so I will just encourage people who really enjoyed the all Ireland final to get out during the year and see some of the other games too.”
Check out the attached video above for the full Niamh McEvoy interview.