Emma Helebert celebrates following Galway's 2019 All Ireland Camogie Final triumph.
Emma Helebert celebrates following Galway's 2019 All Ireland Camogie Final triumph.

Emma Helebert eager to defend title

By Cian O'Connell

Emma Helebert has adjusted to a new way of life in 2020.

Challenges on and off the field of play have been embraced, but the return to inter-county action brings a sense of excitement.

Following a glorious All Ireland winning campaign in 2019, Galway want to make an impact again, starting the defence of the title against Wexford in Enniscorthy on Sunday.

"Yeah, it has been hectic, definitely it has been a different year compared to last year," Helebert admits. 

"I was just saying that the All Ireland last year feels like two All Irelands ago, it definitely just doesn't feel like a year ago."

Working as a midwife has been both different and demanding in these deeply uncertain times too. 

"From a work perspective it is definitely a new normal we are getting used to, getting used to wearing masks," Helebert adds. 

"I feel like all I did was work over the lockdown when everyone else was off. From a training point of view it has been a little bit different, especially when with the Intermediates we are trying to do two different nights, trying to separate it as much as possible."

Cathal Murray and his backroom team are always finding solutions to problems.

Galway camogie manager Cathal Murray.
Galway camogie manager Cathal Murray.

"The clubs that are giving their pitches to us are a little bit more strict," Helebert acknowledges.

"It is probably harder for Cathal and his management team to get pitches because of the conditions. It is great to be back, though, and now that you are back you don't want it to finish.

"You want to keep going so hopefully all going well we will get to finish the year out."

Helebert acknowledges that it has been a mental challenge from a sporting perspective.

"Yeah, definitely in March I thought and it crossed my mind that it wasn't going to go ahead," Helebert replies.

"You are training at home thinking are we training for nothing or is it going to go ahead. I know certainly last Monday evening we were waiting to go training and I was listening to the news at six o'clock waiting to see were we going to go into level three or level five.

"I did have butterflies in my stomach thinking am I actually this nervous over it, but once you get back into full flight you really don't want it to be cancelled.

"Now obviously you want the country to be safe, and whatever has to be done has to be done.

"Definitely there is that nervous aspect that we could go straight back into lockdown again, where you are sitting at home, and everything is all cancelled.

Emma Helebert remains a key player for Galway.
Emma Helebert remains a key player for Galway.

"I'm dying for it to just get playing, but I was definitely nervous last week waiting for the restrictions to be announced."

Triumphing at Croke Park last September, though, provided Helebert with a reminder of the joy victory can bring.

"Oh my God, of course," Helebert remarks. "You just wanted to get straight back into it and then Tipperary gave us the fright of our life in the league this year.

"We were dying then to get back in training for Championship and that’s probably what we needed, to get that fright.

"We had hit the ground running and then went from 100 to nothing. That’s why we’re all guns blazing again, dying to get training and to defend our title.

"We’re doing everything we can, but it feels like a lifetime ago at this stage.

"Once you get that taste for winning all you want to do is go on and defend it.

"You can see from those who have won their second that these things don’t just come around easily, that you have to work so hard for them, that you have to treasure them.

"You see how hard they’ve worked for it. They don’t just happen. Hopefully now we’ll get to see out the year to defend it."