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McGrath Glad She Had 'Healthy Balance' Between Camogie And School

22 August 2010; Ailish O'Reilly, Galway, celebrates after the final whistle with team-mates Niamh McGrath, left, and Maria Breheny, right. All-Ireland Minor A Camogie Championship Final, Galway v Clare, Semple Stadium, Thurles, Co. Tipperary. Picture credit: Matt Browne / SPORTSFILE
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Looking back now, Galway camogie star Niamh McGrath is glad that her parents were "fairly relaxed" about how much sport she played during her Leaving Cert year.

In 2010, the year that McGrath won the All-Ireland Minor Camogie Championship title with Galway, she was also on the senior panel.

"[My parents] thought the best thing was a healthy balance," McGrath, who works as a solicitor, told the Electric Ireland .

"The amount of girls I know who didn't play sport at all during the Leaving Cert year... I think that can be a negative. Obviously, you wouldn't be playing the week before it, in case you got injured. I definitely was of the view that you can balance everything. The sport was a reliever from the exams and studying. It was better to keep it all going.

"I just don't understand people stopping and focusing on exams for the whole year. When you're going through college, you'll have to balance stuff in your life.

"There are so many qualities in sport that are transferrable to work - 100 per cent. It's given you such a leg up. In work, you're supposed to be working as part of a team, and you know no different.

"When you're in work, and you're working alongside people who were never part of a team environment in a sporting capacity, you don't realise that you already have those skills."


Galway beat Clare after a replay in the 2010 minor final.


"We trained so hard," said McGrath.


"It was the first time that you really got exposed to inter-county level. You're disciplined, you're working hard, you're into the routine of going training with the county. It's a step up to senior level, but minor prepares you for that. Not everybody makes the step up.

"We beat Clare in the All-Ireland final in Thurles, just about. I was 17, and had another year left. We had a great team that year, great management.

"It was great to win a minor All-Ireland with Galway. It was a memory I'll treasure forever because it was with a special group of girls that you'll never play with again [as a group]."


niamh mcgrath galway camogie minor

18 August 2018; Niamh McGrath of Galway during the All-Ireland Senior Camogie Championship semi-final match between Galway and Kilkenny at Semple Stadium in Thurles, Tipperary. Photo by Matt Browne/Sportsfile

A year previous McGrath - who has won All-Irelands with Galway and her club Sarsfields - was on the county U16 team which won the championship. That side featured Aoife Donohue, Shauna Healy and Rebecca Hennelly, players who went on to win All-Irelands with Galway. Her sisters Orlaith and Clodagh were also on that team.


The McGraths are a family immersed in hurling and camgoie. Their father Michael - better known as Hopper - won All-Ireland hurling titles with club and county, while their mother Geraldine also grew up in a family steeped in Gaelic games.

'It's helped us develop as camogie players'

"It would all be constructive criticism, it wouldn't be giving out for the sake of giving out, or praising for the sake of praise," said Niamh about what it was like sitting around their kitchen table when she was young.

"It's really helped us develop as players. They'd be telling you what you should have done in this instance, and how you can improve.


"It would only ever be for improvement purposes, even though when you're younger, you're not receptive to that. You don't want to listen to them when you get home.

"The older you get, it's not as frequent. When we were growing up, while I definitely didn't appreciate it at the time, looking back I learnt so much from that post-match analysis."

See Also: 'Real Buzz' For Clare Minor Hurlers As Their Summer Begins To Stretch

niamh mcgrath galway camogie minor




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Brought to you by Electric Ireland

This article was brought to you by Electric Ireland, sponsor of the Camogie & GAA Minor Championships. #ThisIsMajor

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