Camogie player Grace Walsh is more known for her work on the pitch than in the hospital ward.
The Tullaroan local brought her prowess to the fore when Kilkenny clenched the 2020 All-Ireland O'Duffy Cup back in December – beating Galway by three points.
Kilkenny's triumph was particularly sweet for Walsh – as she bounced back from injury at the start of the season. But like the rest of us, this past year has been a tough one to digest.
“People were really frustrated throughout the year. So we were really lucky that we got to play. So winning the All-Ireland during such a tough year was extra special” says Walsh – speaking to OTB AM on Thursday morning.
Nursing during the pandemic
Aside from hassling forwards, Walsh has a different set of demands – far greater than sport. A trained nurse in St Vincent's Hospital, Dublin, Walsh has seen the pandemic unfold before her eyes.
"In any job, there are going to be tough days. I suppose during Covid when it started first in Vincent’s hospital, I felt we were really well prepared and really well supported. I think at the start people thought it was real plane sailing." says Walsh.
“After Christmas was a different story. I don’t know if any preparation could get you ready for what happened after Christmas. That was a really tough time in work. The cases were just so high. I think they went up to 8,000 one of the days."
Camogie has been a real outlet for Walsh. And something she's really missing. Balancing work and elite-sport will always be a stressful combination – but sport seems to be the release that Walsh craves. Especially when you have to be the bearer of bad news.
"I suppose it puts things into perspective as well. On my drive home after work, I felt I was in a complete daze. Just thinking about this poor person and the road they have ahead of them." says Walsh.
"They say you shouldn’t take work home with you, but at the end of the day, we are all human. Sometimes things just hit you a little bit differently."
"One thing I find with camogie is, when I go home for training, it just relieves me of all that stress. It’s somewhere for me that I like to go and I suppose to be set free a little bit, let the shackles off. Camogie is a massive thing for me. I’m able to let everything go and let everything out.”
Fortunately for Walsh, inter-county training is set to resume on 19 April – as the government announced some minor easing of restrictions for the country.
Grace Walsh is one of the Irish sports stars appointed as one of the Irish ambassadors for The European Milk Forum’s ‘Everything starts with milk’ campaign, launched last Monday.