2024 TG4 All-Ireland Finals tickets

Armagh Club Finals on Sunday



Ahead of the Armagh County Finals this weekend Richard Bullick caught up with Armagh and Carrickruppen star, Caroline O’Hanlon.

Caroline O’Hanlon admits that preparing for a county final is helping numb the torment regarding Armagh’s All Ireland exit, but Sunday’s showdown with champions Clann Eireann (Athletic Grounds, 5pm) is about much more than that for the Carrickcruppen captain.

She’s still struggling to rationalise her confused failure to go for the posts with a difficult free which could have earned Armagh extra time against All Ireland champions Cork, though a sluggish scoreboard may have been to blame.

“But the club Championship has helped me park that frustration for now – it was straight back down to the club the next night and nice to have something positive to focus on.

“However anyone who says that the county final is simply a well-timed distraction from feeling sorry for myself doesn’t understand the strength of feeling for our club and how important this match is.

“Trying to win a second county title with Carrickcruppen would matter massively to me whether we’d beaten Cork or not.  Your club is special and our first senior success in 2010 is among my most treasured moments in sport.”

That triumph over champions Clann Eireann owed much to an inspired skipper’s performance from O’Hanlon, who top scored with 1-6, but her hat-trick of goals in the following final against the same opposition wasn’t enough to retain the trophy.

Last year, Carrickcruppen had an eight point lead just before half-time in the semi-final but were relentlessly reeled in as star-studded Clann went on to take a fifth county crown in six seasons.

“We’ve great respect for Clann Eireann’s consistent success over the past decade but we’ve given them good games in recent years and feel like we left those last two behind us,” she reflects.

“That’s why we’re really hungry for another chance and although they’ve a great record and strong team we can draw confidence from our performance in that first half of last year’s semi, which was probably our best ever.”

Carrickcruppen’s preparations have been boosted by their captain persuading her former Orchard boss Lorraine McCaffrey to come on board in a managerial role with Bredagh clubmate and former Armagh goalkeeper Fionnuala McAtamney.

“They’re really excellent and we’re absolutely delighted to have someone of that quality coming in with a fresh eye but also a good knowledge of Armagh football,” O’Hanlon enthuses.

“They’re showing fantastic commitment, travelling from Belfast, and our girls have really responded.  Sure, we haven’t had much time together but knowing we only had a few weeks has enabled everyone to sustain the intensity.

“Another advantage of having limited time is that we’ve concentrated on ourselves rather than thinking too much about Clann Eireann’s record or personnel or anything not really relevant that we can’t control anyway.”

The perennial favourites will be without recent captain Meabh Moriarty and fellow former Armagh star Shauna O’Hagan but still possess a long list of experienced county players so Carrickcruppen will need huge games not only from O’Hanlon but the likes of Marian McGuinness and Caitlin Malone if they are to repeat the triumph of three years ago.

*By the time the Senior showpiece gets underway, Carrickcruppen could be poised to complete a South Armagh clean sweep in the Mackin’s Championships, with two teams contesting the Junior final and Crossmaglen in the Intermediate decider.

Having lost a big lead to Killeavy last year, Cross are determined to make their chance count this time but a dangerous Grange side stand in their way as surprise packages from Division Two.

Fresh from wrapping up the Division Three title in the Mackin Animal Feeds football league, Dorsey will be going for the double against a youthful Shane O’Neills side in the opening game of finals day at Armagh headquarters.


By Richard Bullick

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