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'Up All Night Putting In Epidurals' - The Life Of A Football Playing Doctor

'Up All Night Putting In Epidurals' - The Life Of A Football Playing Doctor
By PJ Browne Updated

Noelle Healy was anxious ahead of her initial meeting with Mick Bohan. He had just taken over as manager of the Dublin ladies team and Healy needed to have a word about her work schedule. The 2017 Player of the Year works as an anaesthetist at the National Maternity Hospital on Holles Street.

"I was a bit nervous when I met him first and I said, 'I work weekends and I'm not going to be there all the time'.

"The first thing he said to me was, 'How did you manage it last year?' I said, 'Oh it was fine, I didn't miss that many training sessions'. He was like, 'Oh no, from a fatigue point of view, were you OK? Did you find it alright?' He was brilliant.

"He understands that it's not our job, as seriously as we do take it. We have responsibilities to other people as well, we have a day job. For students with exams as well, he's great."

In terms of meshing an inter-county career with a medical one, she found the years when she had the summer off harder than when she did not. Work keeps her mind off football - a bad training session or a bad game slip to the back of her mind. It works the other way too. "If you have a bad day in work, you have football as an outlet as well."

"We train Mondays, Wednesdays but the match is on Saturday this week [last week's game vs Cork] so we trained Tuesday, Thursday. Months ago I put my time in being like, 'Any day except Wednesday, Thursdays' and they change it. You're like, 'OK, great' so you're just looking for swaps and things like that.

"Anaesthetics is great in that it's structured - if you're not on call, you're 8-5 so it'd be unlikely that you have to stay later and you just do your own calls so you just work it around a day that you don't have training. Then you'll have some weekends, that's just the way it is. You have to pull your weight on that team as well."


Healy tells all this as she sits in front of a small group of online media at a car dealership in Kilbarrack. "I was up all night last night, putting in epidurals and the likes," she explains. You wouldn't know it considering how bright and thoughtful is when talking about work and play.

The 26-year-old qualified as a doctor in 2015. She then interned at the Mater before moving onto specialise in anaesthesia.

There would be some people who be just like, 'There is no way I could do that, I just couldn't manage it'. For the moment, it's the way I enjoy it, it's what I like doing.

I'm sure there will come a time where it's just not feasible to do both and if I'm not enjoying it, there's no point in forcing it because you're just going to make yourself miserable.

Over the years, apart from the addition of an evening spent in the gym, her training load with Dublin hasn't majorly increased. What has changed: how they think about training.

"I suppose now we are being a bit more focused on the training session, trying to get the most out of the training rather than just going running for an hour or getting through certain drills.


"You're kind of like, 'What are you learning from this training session? What are you getting from it? This is what we're focused on. This is what we want to have learned by the end of it'.

"It's brilliant. It's kind of like every day is a school day."

Initially, it was Mick Bohan driving this change. Now, it's the players.


It's brilliant with the new girls coming in, there's a thing in residency: 'See one, do one, teach one' with procedures and things like that. I think that's what we're seeing now as well.

He showed us the drill last year, we were doing them last year and now with the new girls coming in, it's our responsibility to show them what they should be doing.

Denis Mahony Motor Group has renewed its support of Dublin footballer Jack McCaffrey and Dublin Ladies footballer Noelle Healy. By simply registering to take a test drive in any Toyota Hybrid model at either of Denis Mahony Toyota branches, drivers can nominate a local GAA club of their choice to be in with a chance of winning an exclusive training masterclass, led by Jack and Noelle and held at their own club. For more information, see: http://www.denismahony.ie/web/test-drive-competition/  


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