Hannah Hegarty knows more than most about the joys of playing inter-county at minor level.
Hegarty captained Dublin in both codes at the prestigious underage grade. Despite this, she understands the once-off nature of competing at minor level and how for many young athletes, it is a feat never to be repeated.
The decision to scrap the All-Ireland minor camogie and Gaelic football championships has been met with much disgust which the Dublin senior camogie star wholly understands.
“Minor and those school years, they’re ones that you never, ever get to repeat them again. It’s really disappointing to see that they have been completely cancelled and not revisited.
“I don’t know the ins and outs of it, but (it’s) really disappointing. My two years at minor, football and camogie, they were brilliant. I really, really enjoyed them.
“It’s disappointing that the girls put so much work into it, and they’re not going to get to even challenge for the reward of it.”
After captaining both Dublin sides in 2015, Hegarty opted out of joining any senior panel in 2016. She instead decided to focus on her Leaving Cert.
In 2017, she chose to focus on one code, joining the camogie panel because David Herity (camogie manager) approached her before Mick Bohan (football manager).
Long road back
Dublin reached an All-Ireland semi-final that season followed by a quarter-final appearance a year later. However that proved to be Hegarty’s taste of inter-county championship.
Travel commitments and injury issues saw her absent throughout 2019. Hegarty planned on a 2020 comeback however Covid-19 put those plans on the backburner.
It’s been a long road but Hegarty is excited to finally return to championship action this weekend with her club St Jude’s.
It wasn’t the comeback she expected but given that a few months ago all hope looked lost, she’s just happy to get back on the field.
“Well, a longer run, it’s been as short almost as last year, but certainly it’s longer than what I got last year.
“It’s been great, it’s always really, really nice to get back to play with the club. The grassroots, it’s obviously where you start so it’s always nice to get back and get a good run-in with the club. Especially in a season where we didn’t think we would get game time this year. It’s brilliant being back, really, really looking forward to championship starting up this weekend.”
With regards to Dublin, a revised championship means a revised fixture list. What was once two groups consisting of five and six teams respectively is now three smaller groups.
While they had originally been scheduled to face recent champions, Kilkenny and Cork. They now face Tipperary and Clare for a spot in the last eight.
Hegarty admits this is somewhat a silver lining for Dublin as it has increased their chances of qualifying for another quarter-final.
“We’ll take the draw that we’ve been given. It’s not too bad a draw in comparison to what we had been initially facing for the All-Ireland championship.
“Originally it had been just two groups, we were in with maybe Cork, Kilkenny, Waterford, ourselves and Westmeath.
“Obviously you’re talking about being in with two of the All-Ireland champions of the last five years.”
Hannah Hegarty added:
“A quarter-final is definitely a really good possibility for us this year.
“Obviously it all depends on how performances go on the day, you don’t know what other county teams have been up to the past few months or what they’ve been doing prior to that.
“All we can do is focus on ourselves I suppose. We know that we have those two games to just knuckle down for and to get through them.”