O'Hanlon's urging Armagh girls to up the ante
Published 16/08/2014 | 11:00
Armagh ladies football team captain Caroline O'Hanlon is nothing if not versatile.
Just a couple of weeks ago she was a member of the Northern Ireland netball squad at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, but today she will be back in the tangerine jersey when she leads the Orchard County into battle against Laois in the All-Ireland quarter-finals at O'Connor Park, Tullamore (4.15pm).
It's a huge match for an Armagh side that upset the odds by winning the Ulster championship, in which they scored emphatic victories over Tyrone and Monaghan en-route to the trophy.
Skipper O'Hanlon points to the fact that a number of very good teams are still in the race for the All-Ireland crown and acknowledges her team will need to show a further step-up in form if they are to advance.
"While it was a great feeling to win the Ulster championship, we would obviously love to win the All-Ireland title and this match against Laois will be a big test for us," she points out.
The fulcrum of the side, O'Hanlon, has been setting a superb example to date and this has been quickly replicated, particularly by the more experienced members of the team.
Mairead Tennyson has been a revelation since her switch to defence with Fionnuala McKenna at centrethreequarters enjoying a superb season, while Kelly Mallon and Mags McAlinden have been in hot form in the full-forward line.
Laois have not enjoyed the best of seasons having reached the Leinster final only to be humbled by a rampant Dublin team.
However, Laois then took a major step on the road to recovery when beating Cavan last time out and will be hoping to take another Ulster scalp today.
And while Armagh pursue glory at senior level, Down hope to take another step towards the All-Ireland Intermediate crown when they meet Sligo in the quarter-finals at Clones (3.00pm).
Down swept through the Ulster championship in impressive fashion, underlining their determination to regain senior status.
However, they have not seen action since defeating Fermanagh in the provincial decider at the start of July and will face a Sligo side who are battle-hardened and coming off the back of a good win over London.
Down, though, possess the kind of forward power that could take them into the last four. In Aileen Pyres they have a renowned hot-shot and her six points in the 0-15 to 1-6 win over Fermanagh cemented her marksmanship.
Katie Farrell, Grainne McClean and Lisa Morgan are other key players in a team which has improved as this season has unfurled.