AT 35, and with two young children, a job working as a dentist and having given over two decades of her life to ladies' football, Steelstown’s Emma Doherty does not owe the sport or anyone associated with it anything.
However, it has been a huge part of her life, even before adult responsibilities came along, and she is not willing to give it up just yet.
Besides, as she admits herself, she does not know how she would fill the void.
“I know obviously, I'm 35 now, I’m getting on a bit but I am just going to hope and try and keep myself in the best shape that I can and hope that I can eke out another few years and try and keep up with the younger girls in the team,” said Doherty, whose husband Seb Crudden is part of the Steelstown management team.
Retirement might have crossed her mind but the decision to keep pulling on the boots has worked well in her favour as she prepares for an All-Ireland Club IFC semi-final on Saturday against Leitrim and Connacht counterparts Ballinamore (Pairc Sheain Ui Eislin, 1.30pm).
“Obviously the thought of retirement has crossed my mind a few times,'' she admits.
“Especially with having two young children at home, with myself playing and Seb involved in the management team, you definitely do feel a bit guilty being out of the house a couple of nights a week, maybe a Sunday morning too. You feel bad for the two children, but you just hope you are doing something that they can look back on and enjoy being part of.”
Her decision to stick at it and balance family, work and football, saw her win a much-sought-after Ulster medal with that extra-time victory over Glenavy two weeks ago, a win that ended two years of previous championship heartache and upset.
“As a player these are the games that you want to be involved in and if you are not involved you are sitting at home watching to see who is coming out on top. We are delighted to be here, especially given how the last two seasons have ended for us.
“In 2021 we were beaten by a point in the Ulster final and then last year the season ended abruptly for us and not the way we had hoped it would end.
“We sat down at the start of the year and said we would do everything that we could this year to try and get back to an Ulster final to give us that opportunity to win one and we were lucky enough to achieve that and delighted to get over the line against Glenavy. It was a really tight game.
“There are four teams left and I'd say we have all probably come through tight enough games. There are no poor teams left in the competition at this stage. You would definitely fancy yourself and you'd have to back yourself, and I'm sure every other team is, to go the full way.”
And, even when Doherty finally decides to step away from the senior team she is not entirely giving up football…
“Our club has also just set up a Gaelic for Mothers and Others so once the senior playing days are over I would definitely join that, the craic they have looks amazing!