Belfast Telegraph

O'Hanlon's display is just what the doctor ordered for champs Larkfield

By Richard Bullick

Doctor Caroline O'Hanlon climbed out of her sick bed to swing Saturday's Senior Cup final in Larkfield's favour. The favourites trailed throughout the first quarter against Graduates but their iconic captain's delayed entry turned the tide decisively.

Larkfield led 30-21 at half-time and went on to win 59-44, Lisa Bowman netting 48 of their goals with the rest from her younger sister Kyla.

Recently crowned Premier League champions Larkfield went in as hot favourites to win the showpiece and complete a second domestic double in three seasons.

However, having to take the court unexpectedly without their star skipper understandably unsettled Larkfield while giving Graduates added belief.

O'Hanlon had captained Armagh ladies gaelic champions Carrickcruppen to victory in a league game the previous evening before working the night shift as a hospital doctor.

But she awoke with stomach bug symptoms after a few hours sleep and held off on travelling from Bessbrook to Lisburn as late as possible.

The 31-year-old arrived court-side with the game six minutes old and began warming up as the Belfast side established a healthy early lead.

In spite of feeling unwell, Northern Ireland's most capped player was a typically influential figure and it didn't take Larkfield long to hit the front. Within two minutes they went ahead for the first time and took what felt like a decisive second quarter 18-7.

It was 45-33 at the last break, making the final quarter a near formality for Larkfield who have gone through the entire season with a 100% record for the first time. At present no other team can live with their all-international line-up with a superb starting seven and decent bench back-up. O'Hanlon, Neamh Woods and Laura Mason are a dynamic mid-court trio who provide a seamless link between the physically imposing pairings in the respective circles.

Belfast Telegraph

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