Dublin ladies footballer Noelle Healy says she’s glad to have a target on her back after a remarkable 2018 campaign that saw the Girls in Blue lift a championship and league double.
Healy was a star performer as Mick Bohan’s secured back-to-back All-Irelands with a five-point victory over Cork at Croke Park in September.
That followed victory over Mayo in the Division One final in May, in which the St Brigid’s woman scored a goal and a point to lead Dublin to their first-ever league title.
And the Beaumont Hospital anaesthetist says the pressure both from within the Dublin panel and from other counties looking to knock them off their perch is just what she wants.
“You always want to be looking behind your shoulder and seeing who’s coming up to you,” Healy tells the Dublin Gazette.
“If you rest on your laurels, they’ll overtake you and it’s hard to get started again. I’ve learned an awful lot of lessons from both 2010 and 2011.
“In 2010 we got relegated from Division One into Division Two after being in an All-Ireland final.
“In 2011, we won the Division Two title but we got knocked out in the first round of Leinster and then got beaten in the [All-Ireland] quarter-final as well. There’s no guarantees, and if you look too far ahead, you’ll get tripped up.”
Healy was speaking shortly in advance of Sunday’s Dub Stars event, in which a selection from Dublin club football will take on the All-Ireland champions at DCU.
“Dublin club football is very strong at the moment and the Dub Stars kind of stands on its own as there’d be a lot of intercounty players who play their club football in Dublin.
“You’ll see that in the Dub Stars – you’ve got Emma Sherwood who plays with Kerry, Ciara Murphy who also plays with Kerry, Sinead Burke who plays with Galway.
“They all play their club football here. It’s just funny to see some of them have to wear Dublin gear.”
Next month sees Dublin, for the first time, enter the league as defending champion, with Donegal the opponents in round one on February 2.
Healy hopes to see the league gain the same popular appeal as the championship has in the past few years
“That’s one of the goals ladies’ football should have this year, not just trying to get those record numbers at [All-Ireland] finals and trying to get those numbers attending league games and provincial finals.
“I think a matter of that is just getting people who play the sport into the habit of going to watch these games live rather than just flicking them on if they happen to be at home.
“Double-headers do that because people give priority to go to the men’s. There’s more of a crowd going so it’s more of a social thing they’re used to. It’s more in the fabric of the GAA.
“Hopefully there’s things we can do to change that, including coming on that platform as well and being exposed to them.”