Sky the limit for rentless O’Hanlon

April 1, 2019

Richard Bullick

Local sports star Caroline O’Hanlon will be back on Sky Sports tonight (Mon) as her Manchester Thunder team aim to consolidate their position as netball’s British SuperLeague leaders.

Thunder are away to O’Hanlon’s previous Scottish Sirens side at Glasgow’s Emirates Arena in this evening’s live game (7.30pm) while this Sunday an Armagh victory over Wexford at Silverbridge (2pm) will ensure the Orchard outfit finish top of Division Two of the ladies National League.

Armagh’s somewhat self-inflicted defeat by Kerry last Sunday thwarted superwoman O’Hanlon’s hopes of completing an astonishing hat-trick of sporting triumphs in a whirlwind 48 hours.

On Friday night, long-serving skipper O’Hanlon led her Larkfield team, which also included Tyrone gaelic captain Neamh Woods, to victory in netball’s NI Premier League title decider against Belfast Ladies in Lisburn.

O’Hanlon has been the Lisburn-based club’s captain for more than a decade and duly lifted the trophy for a fourth time in five seasons after the convincing 73-53 victory over the outgoing champions.

Then at tea-time on Saturday, O’Hanlon helped Manchester Thunder go three points clear at the top of the British SuperLeague table by edging champions Wasps Netball 50-49 in an absolute thriller.

Thunder had to come from five down to claim their ninth win in 11 matches this season and go clear at the top having started the evening level on points with the visitors.

The home team’s heroic comeback delighted a capacity crowd at the Thunderdome, though many more fans could have attended if the match hadn’t had to be switched from original venue Manchester Arena to accommodate George Ezra.

World-class centre O’Hanlon, who will captain Northern Ireland at this summer’s World Cup, came through this bruising battle fairly unscathed though Armagh hearts were in mouths when she hit the deck hard twice in quick succession at the end of the third quarter.

But the triple All Star was fit to take her normal place in the Armagh midfield for Sunday’s noon showdown in the Athletic Grounds between the best two teams in NFL Division Two.

The remarkable 34-year-old looked full of running as always and typically played some sublime balls to team-mates as table toppers Armagh fought from behind against title favourites Kerry.

When Armagh hit the front in the closing stages it looked like O’Hanlon’s wonderful weekend was going to have the perfect finish but two late Kerry goals spoiled the script and spiked the Orchard’s 100 percent winning record this season.