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Hannon set to talk the talk and then walk the All-Ireland walk

 

By John Campbell

When Mary Kelly and Shannon Graham, two of Slaughtneil's most experienced players, left the panel several months ago there were grave concerns that the Derry and Ulster senior camogie champions might encounter difficulty in retaining their titles.

But the arrival of the inspirational Tina Hannon in the side transformed what were initially misgivings into rampant optimism, and now the team's total focus is on their All-Ireland senior club semi-final against Thomastown (Kilkenny) in the New Year.

Hannon's inclusion in the ranks could not have been more timely as she reserved her best performance in Slaughtneil's colours to date for the Ulster final against Loughgiel, scoring 10 points in all (four frees).

It was a majestic display of finishing, made even more laudable by the fact that the majority of her scores were landed from considerable distances.

Yet as she prepares diligently for All-Ireland semi-final action, Offaly native Hannon is also focused on another mission.

She will be one of the keynote speakers at an important 'Empowering Female Leaders' Conference which is to be held at the Tyrone Centre of Excellence at Garvaghey on February 10, an event which she feels can help inspire many females within the GAA to come forward and give leadership where and when it is required.

"A conference of this nature can only reap benefits in terms of helping women to show what they can contribute and how they can help their teams and club to make progress," maintains Hannon, who is a nurse at Letterkenny General Hospital.

The demands of her job, coupled with her achievements with Slaughtneil, ensure that her free time is at a premium, yet she is proving a model of encouragement to those around her.

But far from seeking credit, the petite Hannon is urging more and more girls and women to come forward and do their bit for the community at large.

And, not surprisingly, she cites the achievements of the Slaughtneil camogie club as a striking example of 'women power'.

"I think our team has such big leaders all over the pitch that this makes it easier for us all to gel together," she maintains.

"I only moved up to this part of the world in April, and since then I have come to admire the character of the Slaughtneil girls.

"Obviously the team has another All-Ireland title in its sights, but we will take one step at a time.

"Thomastown now forms the first of those steps and it certainly won't be an easy one.

"But there is great belief in the squad now and it's brilliant for me to be part of it. I am thoroughly enjoying the experience."

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