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Ulster GAA award a boost ahead of crunch clash, says sporting superstar Caroline O'Hanlon

 

First lady: Caroline O’Hanlon receiving her award from Seamus McMahon with Writers’ chairman John Martin (centre
First lady: Caroline O’Hanlon receiving her award from Seamus McMahon with Writers’ chairman John Martin (centre
John Campbell

By John Campbell

Few Ulster sporting competitors live life in the fast lane to quite the same extent as the multi-talented Caroline O'Hanlon.

Despite incurring not one but two knocks while assisting Northern Ireland in the recent World Netball Championships, the Camlough dynamo returned to the province to inspire Armagh to the most unlikely of victories over hotly-fancied Cork in the All-Ireland Ladies' Football Championship.

This, too, after the Orchard County had been humbled by Donegal in the Ulster final and tripped up by Cavan in their initial qualifier tie. Yet such was O'Hanlon's influence that Armagh put those defeats behind them to halt Cork in their tracks and set up Saturday's appetising All-Ireland quarter-final against Mayo.

O'Hanlon's inspirational performance won her the Quinn Building Products Ulster GAA Writers' monthly merit award, which took her by surprise.

"It's an absolute honour to receive this award," said busy GP O'Hanlon. "I was delighted that we beat Cork and I am accepting this Writers' award on behalf of the team. All the girls see it as a great boost before we go in against Mayo this weekend and rightly so."

But she reveals that the loss of top scorer Aimee Mackin to a cruciate ligament injury could impact on Armagh's chances of making it into the semi-finals.

"Aimee has been playing very well for us as usual, and her scoring touch will be badly missed against Mayo," said O'Hanlon.

"Fortunately we have players like her sister Blaithin, Kelly Mallon, the four Marley sisters and Aoife McCoy, all of whom are capable of getting scores.

"We know that Mayo have been there or thereabouts when the All-Ireland title is being decided, so we are aware of the big task that we face.

"We have to try and apply ourselves right from the start and keep them under pressure because they are a team who can cut loose and rack up scores."

O'Hanlon, who plays her netball with both Larkfield and Manchester Thunder, took time out to receive her writers' honour at a function in Quinn's Corner Restaurant near Ballygawley.

Writers' chairman John Martin said: "Caroline is a real driving force in both of the sports in which she participates so successfully, and she is a shining example to all those who aspire to achieve progress in their own chosen sports. She takes all the travel, training and matches in both codes in her stride."

Quinn Building Products sales and marketing director Seamus McMahon presented O'Hanlon with her trophy, a specially engraved Belleek Living Vase as well as training gear from O'Neill's International Sportswear and engraved jewellery from Carlingford Design House.

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