A MEETING OF MINDS
Psychological Advisor, Team Ireland Young Rider Eventing Squads 2013 & 2015
With a passion for equestrian sport that began with her own participation in show jumping and eventing at a young age, Niamh has worked with many people from the world of equestrian sport, including jockeys, show jumpers, dressage riders and eventers. She was psychological advisor to the Team Ireland Young Rider Eventing squads in 2013 and 2015, when she helped prepare them to compete at the European Championships in each of these years. These riders are all under 21 years of age and whilst they are certainly experienced riders, for many this would be their first European Championships and Niamh’s role was to help them to be mentally ready for this challenge. In both 2013 and 2015 Team Ireland Young Riders won a bronze medal at their respective European Championships.
DIGICEL ATLANTIC CHALLENGE TEAM 2005
The Woodvale Atlantic Rowing Race is an ocean rowing race and in 2005 it was run from La Gomera in the Canary Islands, to Antigua in the Caribbean, with 26 boats racing to cross the line first. The winning boat, “All Relative” from the UK, completed the distance of over 4,700 kilometres in a record time of 39 days. An Irish entry was the Digicel Atlantic Challenge team, of Gearóid Towey and Ciarán Lewis. The psychological preparation for this race was vital as the rowers would face almost unimaginable challenges. Spending approximately 40 days together in a 7 metre boat only big enough to hold the two rowers and their equipment; having to row alone in two hour shifts where one rows while one sleeps; being out of contact with the world save for brief messages home via satellite radio; missing Christmas and New Year with family, not knowing if everyone was still healthy and well; dealing with sharks, storms and huge waves along with searing heat and sunburn all required detailed preparation and planning. Niamh was Psychological Advisor to the Digicel team and the task was so intricate that she brought a colleague, Owen Fitzpatrick, on board to add extra dimension to the preparation.
Adverse weather caused by a hurricane and tropical storm meant that conditions were very difficult from early on, but despite that and equipment issues, all continued well with the Digicel team until they were forced to retire after the boat capsized without warning in bad storms. Gearóid and Ciarán’s quick thinking got them into their life raft, where they spent several terrifying hours until they were picked up by a Spanish tanker, with the boat and equipment lost to the sea and never recovered. The rowers thankfully, lived to fight another day.
SPORT PSYCHOLOGIST, WEXFORD SENIOR HURLING TEAM 1996
Liam Griffin was appointed as Manager of the Wexford Senior Hurling team in 1995 and he set about attending to all elements of their preparation – physical, tactical, technical and mental. Wexford has not won the All Ireland Championship in 28 years and so it was a daunting task mentally for players to believe that they could possibly achieve this. Liam knew that the players needed professional psychological preparation and he set about sourcing a sport psychologist. Niamh Fitzpatrick was recommended to him and after a chat / thorough grilling on the telephone he invited her to Wexford to meet the players in April 1996. Thus Niamh began an intense period of one to one consultations, team meetings, selector and backroom team meetings, and hours upon hours of working with Liam Griffin to ensure that each player was psychologically ready to compete.
That Summer, Wexford beat Kilkenny in the first match of the Championship and went on to an epic win over Offaly in the Leinster final, before defeating Limerick to win the All Ireland Hurling Championship and return the Liam Mc Carthy cup to Wexford for the first time in a generation.
Liam Griffin said about that win – “I can honestly say that Wexford would not have won the All Ireland Hurling final, our first in 28 years, without the input of Niamh Fitzpatrick. We have not and will never forget her great efforts on our behalf.
SENIOR HURLING TEAM
RIDERS 2013 & 2015
Digicel Atlantic Rowing Challenge Team 2005
Niamh was psychological advisor to this team who set out to complete the daunting challenge of rowing over 4700 kilometres across the Atlantic in 2005.
Niamh was sport psychologist with the Wexford Senior Hurling team in 1996, guiding them for the psychological challenge of being the first team in their county to win an All Ireland title for the first time in 28 years.
All Ireland Champions 1996 Wexford Senior Hurling Team
Psychological Advisor, Team Ireland Young Rider Squads 2013 & 2015
Team Ireland Young Rider European Championships 2013 & 2015
Niamh was sport psychologist to the Team Ireland Young Rider squads of 2013 and 2015 and her role was to prepare these riders, all under 21 years of age, to compete at their respective European Championships. Both teams took bronze medals at their events.
Beijing Olympics 2008
Niamh's role at the Beijing Olympic Games was HQ Psychologist to the Irish Olympic Team.
Niamh's role at the London Olympic Games was HQ Psychologist to the Irish Olympic Team. She was also the Sports Psychologist to the Irish Eventing Team, who placed 5th in the team event and had a 4th place individual rider.ﾠ
Niamh's role for the Athens Olympics was HQ Psychologist to the Irish Olympic Team. In addition she was the Psychologist to the Irish Lightweight Men's Coxless Four Rowing Team. She was also the Sports Psychologist in situ at the Irish Olympic Team training camp in Cyprus.ﾠ
Today FM attracts over 900,000 listeners weekly and Neil’s Sunday Best brings in 100,000 of these. On air from 11am to 1pm on a Sunday, this show is a mix of news, sport and movie reviews, human interest stories, celebrity interviews, music, and expert advice, as well as recommendations for entertainment events for the week ahead. The Agony Aunt section is a regular weekly slot on the show, with Niamh giving advice to listeners on problems with relationships, work, friends or family, or mental health issues such as anxiety, depression or lack of self-confidence. The advice is designed to provide a qualified, objective view of listener concerns, with some practical steps to help people begin to address or resolve the issue. This section of the show gives people a safe and trusted place to seek help for everyday problems.
AGONY AUNT ADVICE
The Olympic Council of Ireland provides support and guidance for Olympic sport in Ireland. At a Summer Games in an Olympic Village there are about 10,000 athletes and each athlete cannot take their own doctor, physiotherapist, physiologist, nutritionist and psychologist with them. So for each Olympic Games the OCI appoints a Sports Science and Medical team, whose responsibility it is to take care of the athletes and support staff during their time at Olympic training camps and in the Olympic Village. Niamh was first appointed to the Sports Science and Medical team as HQ (Headquarters) Psychologist for the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. Here her remit was to be available at the Games and at the training camp beforehand, to deal with any psychological issues that arose within the Irish team and to help athletes with any last minute preparation. She was appointed as HQ Psychologist for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing and again for the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
When it comes to the Olympic Games, Niamh has often had two hats on. At the three Olympics where she was HQ Psychologist for Team Ireland, she had responsibility for dealing with psychological issues arising with any member of the Irish team of athletes or support staff. However, she has also been the designated sport psychologist with several sports competing at different Olympic Games. In this capacity, Niamh’s role has been to train athletes and advise coaches and managers in the psychological skills required for optimum performance at the highest level in their sport.
Psychologist, Olympic COUNCIL of Ireland
MummyPages is Ireland’s largest online parenting site, with over 600,000 mums logging on to the site every month. Jam packed with practical tips and advice for parents of newborns right up to teens, along with information about other areas of life relevant to parents, this site has a panel of Experts who blog each month. Niamh is the Performance and Life Coach for MummyPages and she writes articles for the site to give tips on how to handle some of life’s challenges.
READ NIAMH'S ADVICE