O’Hanlon lands dream double at All-Stars

November 13, 2012

Richard Bullick

The incomparable Caroline O’Hanlon made history in Dublin on Saturday night as she became the first ever Armagh representative to claim a second ladies All-Star and also lifted Intermediate football’s top player prize at the glittering awards banquet.

It is an incredible but richly-deserved double for the revered Armagh midfielder who was a hugely influential figure in the Orchard county’s run to Ulster and All-Ireland Intermediate Championship glory this season.

Footballing genius O’Hanlon pulled the strings superbly for James Daly’s side and she also scored heavily for a midfielder, including the three second half frees that sealed victory over Waterford in last month’s final at Croke Park.

The 28-year-old was the only player from outside the senior ranks to make this year’s All-Stars line-up but showed her top class credentials at the start of June when winning player of the tournament as Ulster lifted the interpro title.

Predictably, All-Ireland champions Cork dominated the awards with a magnificent seven All-Stars with three going to beaten finalists Kerry and national league winners, Ulster champions, Monaghan rewarded with two.

The other two respective provincial champions, Mayo and Dublin, notched one apiece through legendary markswoman Cora Staunton and rising star Sinead Goldrick, who was named as O’Hanlon’s midfield partner.

That meant there was no place in the line-up for four-time All Star Juliet Murphy, who captained Cork to a quartet of All Ireland triumphs, and was O’Hanlon’s midfield partner the first time the Carrickcruppen captain was honoured in 2006.

The other three nominated midifielders to miss out were Bernie Breen, who skippered Kerry to a first All-Ireland final appearance this century, Monaghan’s Amanda Casey and Goldrick’s fellow Dub, Gemma Fay.

“Naturally I’m delighted and privileged to be be named among the 2012 All Stars – it’s something no player can ever expect with such high-quality players in contention, not least in midfield, so this honour comes as a pleasant surprise,” reacted Caroline, before being characteristically self-effacing in deflecting credit for her formidable double success.

“We all play to win matches and trophies for our team rather than personal recognition but I’m proud that Armagh are represented in this year’s All-Stars line-up at the end of what has been a very positive and enjoyable year for us.

“Everyone involved, management and players, worked so hard throughout a very long season in which we achieved our objective of winning the All-Ireland Intermediate Championship and this All-Star is the icing on the cake.

“Although an All-Star is awarded to the individual I genuinely felt like I was collecting it on behalf of our team, which contains several promising players who have undoubtedly the potential to achieve this honour in the future.

“The infusion of young talent has energised the county team this season and their emergence gives us genuine grounds for optimism that the All-Ireland Intermediate title can be a stepping stone to bigger and better things for Armagh ladies football in the coming seasons,” she insisted.

O’Hanlon beat Waterford’s Elaine Power and Sharon Treacy of Longford to the All-Ireland Intermediate Players’ Player of the Year award, which was voted on by her fellow ladies footballers across the second tier counties.

“For any gaelic footballer, male or female, winning an All Star award is special but to be recognised by your peers is the most cherished honour for any sportsperson and thus I am very humbled to be chosen as All-Ireland Intermediate player of the year,” said hospital doctor Caroline, who doubles up as a world-class netballer.