The Women’s National Team’s UCD base is like a home away from home for Hayley Nolan, who lives just 30 minutes away and is well accustomed to the local hotspots on offer.
Downtime will be imperative for the now 32-player training squad (with the addition of Izzy Atkinson this week), as with camp having started on Monday last, almost 40 days will surpass before the Girls In Green kick off in the opening FIFA Women’s World Cup game vs Australia.
Great to hear, that’s what we hoped for. It was amazing to meet all those smiling faces! ☘️🇮🇪💚 https://t.co/Euahn1KkMS
— Vera Pauw (@verapauw) June 16, 2023
With Wednesdays and weekends off, 26-year-old Nolan points out just how the WNT are utilizing their free time to switch of mentally.
“Honestly it's coffee galore here” the London City Lionesses star jokes at the open training session on Friday, “you can ask any girl here, we like four or five cups a day.”
“It’s just good to kind of get away and not think about football sometimes” she continues.
“We have lovely areas here and we can go out, jump in the sea and just kind of forget things.
“There’s different things we like to do… like some of the girls went down to Glendalough there. Me, I love Seapoint, I love the Vico Baths just to jump in because like you said, there's a lot going on here.”
From midfield to centre back
“A lot going on” is no overestimation, with different periodisation training programmes in place for various players in order to accommodate for their staggered season conclusions, as well as weddings, injury comebacks and everything in between too.
However, for Nolan, who played every single minute in the Championship for her club this season, she can’t wait to hit the ground running again.
“I’ve been off for a good few weeks now and you're itching to come back into it, especially when you know that you've to get ready for a World Cup or a pre-World Cup training camp” she says.
“I'm just so happy to be back in… we had a program there from Vera and from my club team as well [since her season finished].
“I went out to the States to get some training in over there” Nolan explains, hungry to keep the momentum she built up with the London City Lionesses going.
Immensely proud to be a part of this team.
Thank you 💙 https://t.co/6CE7ID59Ma
— Hayley Nolan (@Hayley__Nolan) May 5, 2023
Noting that she was “very proud” of her performances during that campaign, she also divulges into her mindset around her positional change over the course of last season.
“I've always been a midfielder my entire career, and I think that in the last year and a half I changed position into a centre back because I just needed to play consistently” she outlines.
“I needed to play as many minutes to be tested in that position and I did that this year. I'm just I'm proud of how the season went for me individually and hopefully, you know, the next couple weeks go well as well.
“Obviously it's hard to change position, but I think for me I can feel a real sense of home playing there, I feel like it is more my position.
“I play a bit more fluidly there and over the last year I think I've shown that.”
Honing in on the preparation games versus Zambia and France before turning her attention to the cut to a squad of 23, Nolan is soaking up every opportunity that comes her way and explains that you can “just go out there and play your best, that's all you can do.”
“I think a lot of people, a lot of players, are looking forward to the games at home because of the fact that we haven’t played here since the Finland game and the playoffs, it seems like a long time since” she describes.
“The most important thing is making sure that the team is ready for the game and that we're prepared and we get the most out of it because they're all preparation games for the World Cup and that's the most important thing.”