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'Cathal Was Very Good. If I Wanted To Take A Training Session Off, I Just Had To Text Him'

'Cathal Was Very Good. If I Wanted To Take A Training Session Off, I Just Had To Text Him'
By PJ Browne
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Sarah Healy can't put her finger on exactly how Cathal Murray and his management team turned Galway into All-Ireland winners this year.

"I don't know how to describe it, but they have changed us," says the teenager, speaking at the launch of the Liberty Insurance Camogie All-Stars Tour To New York, "they have changed the way we think, the mental capacity that we have - they have changed us for the better.

"Just from the start of the year, we said that we can't let another year go by without progressing and showing the potential we knew we had in us.

"We said from the start that we were going to attack the league and treat like it is - a national competition. Winning that gave us even more belief then."

That National League title, which Galway claimed at the end of March by beating Kilkenny, was just the beginning of Healy's impressive list of achievements in 2019.

In June, she finished her Leaving Cert; In September, she helped Galway to their first All-Ireland Camogie Championship win since 2013 and started studying Sports Science at GMIT; In October, she won her first All-Star.

Recipients of the Liberty Insurance Camogie All-Stars Awards from 2018 and 2019 as well as several nominees head for New York this month where they will play an exhibition match in Gaelic Park on November 23rd. Photo credit: INPHO/Bryan Keane

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"I think I balanced it well," she says of mixing the biggest exam of her young life with the inter-county game.

Cathal was very good. If I wanted to take a training session off, I just had to text him and he'd text back, 'That's no bother. Do what you need to do'. He said that from the very start.

There was no pressure. I wouldn't be the type to feel a lot of pressure but it really helped.

You wouldn't feel, you could say, as guilty. The girls were grand as well, they understood.

You need a break from study too. An hour or two training would refresh the mind, get the head out of the books.

Between the sticks is not Healy's only station on the pitch. She plays at corner-forward and is free-taker for her club St. Thomas's.

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Five years ago, while part of the Galway under-16 team, manager Lorraine Larkin asked Healy how she felt about playing in goal.

"I haven't come out since," says Healy.

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"This year was my fifth year, just being a goalie. I'd never played in goals before that.

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"I remember I went home and told dad that she wanted me to play in goals, and he was like, 'No. No. You're not going in goals'. He couldn't see me in goals and I couldn't either.

"I'd be the type of person who, if you told me to do this, I'd do it. If that's what the management want and that's what will help us win, I'll do it.

"She said that they'd put me in for one year - I was 14 at the time. I was like, 'OK. I'll go in for one year' but it continued on.

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"When she put me in goals, I remember the ball bounced and I caught it. I always think, 'What if I let the ball in? Where would I be today?'

"I don't know what she saw in me. She had an instinct and went for it. It turned out well."

Healy's puck out is one of her great assets. She has always had the length - winning underage All-Ireland Poc Fadas level is evidence of that - and is now adding the accuracy required of an inter-county goalkeeper.

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"When I was young, I went to training with dad because he was over the club's senior camogie team," she says.

"I just remember being young, standing on the end line and hitting the ball into play. It might not have went very far but that's what I remember.

"I've always been able to hit it that distance, even from under-14.

"I don't know where it came from, maybe the dinners at home! Maybe it's the potatoes and the meat!"

 

See Also: Kilkenny Take Heart From Dublin Ladies Footballers' Journey

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