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Kilcoo's Darragh O'Hanlon doubling down on lockdown training after injury woes

 

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Hard road: Darragh O’Hanlon has fought his way back to fitness

Hard road: Darragh O’Hanlon has fought his way back to fitness

Philip Magowan / PressEye

Hard road: Darragh O’Hanlon has fought his way back to fitness

Darragh O'Hanlon could be said to have more reason than most to regret the current coronavirus crisis.

The 26-year-old utility player was forced to miss out on Kilcoo's historic first Ulster club championship title triumph last year before taking a back seat yet again as Down powered their way into a challenging position for promotion from Division Three of the Allianz League before the curtain came down on GAA activity.

But rather that bemoan his misfortune, O'Hanlon has stepped up his self-imposed training regime to such an extent that he is now hoping to make up for lost time if and when the season resumes.

O'Hanlon had shared in the majority of Kilcoo's eight county championship titles in the last 11 years before nailing down a place in the Down side.

However, having undergone surgery to correct a spinal problem which first manifested itself in 2018 and necessitated a 13-month recovery period, O'Hanlon had the misfortune to subsequently rupture a cruciate ligament which saw him miss out on Kilcoo's historic provincial achievement.

They went on to lose out in the All-Ireland club final to Corofin in January at Croke Park but O'Hanlon, undaunted by the fact that the GAA is currently in lockdown, is continuing to drive himself relentlessly in his demanding solo training regime.

O'Hanlon has long since underlined his immense value to both Kilcoo and Down not just as an accomplished utility player who is capable of linking defence and attack but also as a competent free-taker.

While GAA chiefs engage in their efforts to restructure the fixtures programme, O'Hanlon himself remains philosophical.

"In the current situation we have all learned to live from day to day. You would hope the coronavirus threat will recede and we will be able to return to what we would regard as some sort of normality but we will just have to be patient," says O'Hanlon.

Kilcoo, too, have received a boost of a different sort now that they have been awarded more than £8,000 in Lottery funding.

The club will use the grant aid to run activities for family members while children and young people are attending training at the club when activity resumes.

Sheila Kelly is one of the driving forces behind the range of activities which come under the banner of the club and believes the funding represents a significant bonus.

"We are absolutely ecstatic with what we are getting. This club is very, very important to the community - indeed, it's all about community in this part of the world and the Lottery funding is a major boost," says Kelly.

"This will help provide new changing facilities and we will be able to finance the development of the club's IT facilities. We have just recently completed work on our new community centre.

"What is even more important is that we continue to promote positive mental health and well-being."

Belfast Telegraph