I’ve played with Cuala since I was 5. Due to COVID19 we stopped training together in early March and that’s probably the longest time I’ve gone without training since joining the academy.

It’s always been my second home and the club members have always been my second family. Looking back, Cuala was probably where I first got the idea of becoming a nurse. Whenever someone was injured I wanted to help and while most of the girls thought bent fingers and bloody knees were gross, I was always fascinated.

As I got older, I was really interested and admired the girls on my team and others in the club who had jobs in healthcare as doctors nurses or midwives.

I’m just towards the end of my second year of general nursing in UCD and I’m working as a care assistant in St. Vincent’s hospital.

When COVID was beginning to circulate, I was scared as most people were but I felt ready to take it on. I really believe Cuala is to thank for this.

This is going to sound a bit ridiculous but I suppose working in the hospital at the moment is like going in for a big tackle. It can be scary but you know how to do it and if you don’t the team will suffer.

You have to go for it, give it your all and hope for the best. I don’t think I realised before this the extent of the life skills I had learned in Cuala. We always talk about how team sports help us develop our leadership, teamwork and social skills but I never thought it would prepare me for work in a pandemic.

Cuala has been my saving grace during this pandemic. All my friends within the club have been beyond supportive. The past few weeks have been tough and it’s shown the strength of the bonds I’ve made in Cuala both on and off the pitch.

At the moment, we’re all training together but apart; zoom meetings and training programs are being sent each week. My managers from both codes have been more than understanding about how busy work is right now and when I can’t fit in time for everything. It comes in handy when I see things like a timed 5km run included in the weekly tasks… “sorry Niamh work was crazy this week couldn’t fit that one in”…

In all seriousness, I’m very happy that in moments of frustration, fear and of course boredom; I had my hurl and a Sliothar to bang against the wall and a football to kick around. Although, June 29th cannot come quick enough when we’re back out on the pitch together- the way it should be.