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O'Hanlon and Morgan aiming higher with Armagh

 

Leading lady: Caroline O’Hanlon has inspired Armagh
Leading lady: Caroline O’Hanlon has inspired Armagh
John Campbell

By John Campbell

Patience is a virtue and both Caroline O'Hanlon and Caoimhe Morgan have had to show that they have it in spades over the course of recent years.

Between them, the duo have given 37 years of service to Armagh ladies' football and ahead of the forthcoming All-Ireland quarter-final against Mayo, they are setting the tone for what they hope will be another victory to equal their county's surprise eclipse of Cork last weekend.

For O'Hanlon, who has just recently returned from duty with Northern Ireland at the World Netball Championships, the Orchard celebrations are linked with her own particular jubilations as she marks her 35th birthday.

Having spent 18 years at the coalface for Armagh, O'Hanlon, a busy GP working in Clough but living in Camlough, believes that the current team has suddenly flashed out the message that they must be viewed as serious title contenders.

"While it was great to get over Cork, we have to recognise that Mayo are up there among the best teams and we know it is going to be very difficult for us. They have beaten Donegal, who defeated us in the Ulster final, so we know full well what to expect," said O'Hanlon.

"But there is a tremendous spirit within this Armagh side and I have no doubt that we will give it everything against Mayo."

For Morgan, the task of leading the side has been lightened because of what she refers to as "the absolute dedication" of the players.

Along with her three sisters, Sarah, Niamh and Catherine - all of whom were outstanding in the weekend win over Cork - Caoimhe revelled in a special moment when the final whistle sounded on Sunday.

"We have played Cork on numerous occasions in the All-Ireland Championship but we never managed to beat them until Sunday and it was quite an emotional occasion," reflected Caoimhe, a schoolteacher.

"But we have all re-focused since then and you can take it from me that Mayo are the only side on our minds at this point in time."

Morgan admits that the defeats to Donegal and Cavan immediately prior to the victory over Cork impacted on Armagh's morale but believes that a very positive attitude now prevails within the camp.

She may have given 19 of her 36 years to Armagh but her commitment and enthusiasm are as great as ever.

And she views her role of captain as "an honour and a privilege".

"I could not be leading a better bunch of girls," said the Armagh skipper. "Caroline O'Hanlon and I have been around for a long time but we are enjoying the football as much if not more than ever.

"But we know that there are some very good sides still in the hunt for the All-Ireland title - including Mayo."

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