O’Hanlon’s side nets record score

December 15, 2014

Richard Bullick

Armagh ladies gaelic captain Caroline O’Hanlon has led her Lisburn-based netball club to the biggest victory ever recorded in the NI Premier League.

Reigning champions Larkfield obliterated Banbridge by an incredible 103 goals at Lisburn Racquets to consolidate their position at the top of the table.

Their barely believable 120-17 rout represents the highest scoreline and biggest winning margin ever in the competition and likewise Larkfield’s score and victory margin are records for any match in the club’s 54-year history.

Having joined Larkfield at the age of 17, Bessbrook woman O’Hanlon is now in her eighth season as club captain and the Northern Ireland legend has led them to the NI Premier League and Senior Cup double in 2010 and again last term.

Like last season, O’Hanlon’s side have reached Christmas with a 100 percent record, winning all 10 league games since late September including convincing victories over the established Big Two of Graduates and Belfast Ladies.

A few weeks ago, Larkfield won 90-29 at Banbridge, a real landslide by normal standards but nothing compared to their remarkable margin in the return fixture.

Unlike neighbours Dromore, Banbridge survived the Premier League being cut from 10 teams to eight for this season and field three adults sides every week along with a thriving youth section.

A relatively vibrant club, Banbridge regularly get a page of coverage in their local newspapers and only lost 61-32 to second placed Graduates recently, but this humiliating loss to Larkfield will feel like a big blow.

Admittedly Banbridge were understrength on the evening when, by contrast, Larkfield’s legendary coach Denise Prue had a full deck to pick from for the first time this season.

By coincidence, Larkfield’s first choice starting seven contains one player living in each of the six counties of Northern Ireland along with the Jamaican-born Nordia Masters.

Larkfield provided four of the Northern Ireland squad which finished a superb seventh at this summer’s Commonwealth Games when pivotal player O’Hanlon was joined by star shooter Lisa Somerville, defender Masters and back-up centre Michelle Drayne.

Three more players, Kyla Bowman, Deborah McCarthy and Laura Mason – who played midfield for Loughinisland against Forkhill in October’s Ulster Junior Club Championship clash in ladies gaelic – featured at the 2011 World Cup where Northern Ireland reached the tournament quarter-finals for the first time.

The club has several more full internationals on their books including Tyrone gaelic football All-Star Neamh Woods, valuable depth which helped them cope in the second half of last season when O’Hanlon was frequently absent due to her British SuperLeague commitments with Team Northumbria.

However, with O’Hanlon expected to confirm shortly that she will not be returning to Tyneside next spring now that she is back working full-time as a doctor at Daisy Hill Hospital, Larkfield should have their captain available for the title run-in.

Larkfield’s fantastic form this autumn rounds off a special sporting year for O’Hanlon, which included captaining the Armagh gaelic team to Ulster Championship glory and winning All-Ireland Player of the Year along with her third All Star.