If you find it hard watching big moments of Dundalk games then spare a thought for Grainne Lawless.
The girlfriend of striker Patrick Hoban has revealed how she struggles to watch her boyfriend take penalties – even having to leave the room as she watched the shoot-out with Riga earlier this summer.
Asked about what it was like to watch him in action, the Galway girl said: “I don’t think I’ve ever been nervous when he has gone down in a challenge because he’s too sturdy but I hate when he takes penalties. I hate it!
“A lot of the time I’ll record it on my phone and I won’t watch it live so I can re-watch it later but I’m too nervous to watch it when he’s taking it.
“The penalty shoot-out they had against Riga in the Champions League, I was in my sister’s house for that with my family but I left the room because I couldn’t watch it. Then my mom screamed in celebration so I came running back in but I just couldn’t watch it. I don’t know what it is. I’m more nervous for him. I just know how upset and disappointed he would be if he missed it so I just can’t watch them.
“I do the same thing if I’m following a game on Twitter. If he’s taking a penalty I’ll put my phone down and run out and make a cup of tea or something and I’ll give myself that two minutes or so before I look back it and hit refresh,” she laughed.
While very supportive of Hoban’s career, Grainne revealed there were downsides to dating a footballer.
“What kills you is you watch your friends go on weekends away or they go to family weddings or just go out on a Saturday night for dinner and have a couple of glasses of wine. I don’t actually remember the last time Patrick and I just went on a spontaneous weekend away. Everything we’ve ever done is so planned and calculated.
“Even when they’re meant to have a weekend off it can be cancelled depending on the result of a game or they might have to be in for analysis or whatever so you never really know in advance. I know sometimes even he finds that hard in terms of even coming back to Galway even if it’s just to see his nanny or his parents or his brothers. His life just revolves around football all the time.
“This year after the Cup final there is two extra games against Linfield so I just feel like their off-season is getting shorter and shorter.
“I can’t speak for all of the players but from my experience with Patrick, he never stops ever. He lives and breathes football. Even when it is the off-season, he’ll give himself maybe three weeks where he’ll eat pizza and go out for a few drinks and he won’t train because he has to give his body a break and then he’s back in the gym and that’s it then really. Even before the team go back he’d be in the gym four or five times a week, eating clean and then they’re back for pre-season again.”
The upside is a new circle of friends with the fellow Dundalk players’ wives and girlfriends.
Having been with Hoban during his spell in the UK, Grainne revealed how Ireland is much more welcoming.
“Ireland is way different than the UK. Within Ireland there’s the most amazing network around the lads. The lads are so close and the partners and wives are all just so lovely so they make a big effort to involve everyone.
“If we were having a night out everyone would make sure that everyone knew where they were staying, where we were meeting etc. We would do that outside of the boys and that’s really nice because you don’t have that in the UK.
“The group chat is just called ‘The Dundalk girls’ but we would just be chatting before and during every game, especially the stressful ones. They might send a few videos of stuff that happened so that’s really nice.
“Myself included, we’d try to welcome the newer people. I only met Daniel Kelly’s girlfriend Claudia a few weeks ago when we went out. She only got put into the group the night before and everyone was messaging her and she just fit right in. You have to because there’s no point being stand-offish because at the end of the day none of us really know each other outside of football so unless you get to know the girls that you’re around you’re going to be standing beside your boyfriend all night while he talks football,” she said.