O’Hanlon the perfect “role model” for Orchard youngsters

By Shaun Casey

ARMAGH ladies legend Caroline O’Hanlon has committed to a 23rd season in the orange and white as the Orchard County get their 2024 campaign up and running this weekend against Waterford.

A three-time All-Star winner, O’Hanlon lined out for her club Carrickcruppen in last season’s club championship campaign, when they were defeated by Greg McGonigle’s Clann Eireann in the Senior Championship final.

McGonigle has since assumed the reigns of the Orchard County and is thrilled to have O’Hanlon to call on. “I was delighted when I sat down with Caroline at the start of the year and she said she was on board for coming back and giving it another year,” said McGonigle.

“What a role model she is for the younger girls, trying to combine netball (professionally with Leeds Rhinos) and being a GP, it’s a credit to her to still have that appetite to play for her county.

“In fairness to her in training, she’s up there in regard to running distances covered and she’s seen plenty of the ball in the challenge games that were played when she’s been available.”

O’Hanlon has been a bit-part player for Armagh over the last couple of years, but her influence around the dressing room and on the field of play cannot be understated, said the Armagh boss.

She didn’t feature in Armagh’s championship run last season, when they surrendered their Ulster crown, and played just three times in the league, including a late Croke Park cameo as Armagh overcame Laois in the Division Two league final.

While she may not be the guaranteed starter she once was, the 2012 Intermediate Player of the Year and 2014 Senior Player of the Year still have plenty to offer.

“The big thing that I think she gives us around that centerfield area is that leadership and communication, not just game-smarts in terms of how we want to play the game and controlling the game, even for the likes of young girls coming in,” added McGonigle.

“They obviously all idolise here from a football point of view but she’s also there giving them bits of coaching advice as well.

“That was the big thing behind trying to get younger players in when Caroline is there, we’ll try to use her as much as possible not just from a playing point of view but as a coaching point of view as well, that the younger girls can learn from the older players in the group.”

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