CARRICKCRUPPEN LADIES CLINCH COUNTY CROWN
Tuesday, 27 August 2013
CAPTAIN Caroline O'Hanlon hailed heroic Carrickcruppen's composure after the Lowe's Lane ladies dethroned Clann Eireann with an impressive victory in the Armagh Senior Championship Final.
Deservedly leading for most of the match, Cruppen kept their heads in spite of a late penalty against them and in the face of repeated provocation by the elite Lurgan club, whose discipline let them down badly.
Although they got away with a lot, the outgoing champions did have two players sin-binned in the second half and finally former Armagh player Laura Brown received red for shocking conduct.
It is a measure of O'Hanlon's class that the victorious skipper still shook hands with the opposing players before joining in the Cruppen celebrations, though she was shocked at the "thuggery" witnessed in the closing stages.
“They'll have to be accountable for their tactics and actions out there, but I'm so proud of the disciplined composure shown by our team in rising above what went on and being rewarded with this thoroughly deserved victory," she enthused.
“It was particularly pleasing how we showed we've learned lessons from the past couple of years, in coping with a sinbin or with the opposition applying pressure late on, for we've lost leads against them twice in big games.
“When their penalty went in, the heat was on and if they'd got the next score the game could have gone either way, but all the girls dug deep and we pushed on in that last 10 minutes, which was really reassuring.
“That's where we lost it last year and that memory flashes through your mind but we'd talked about what we'd do differently this time and as well as being massively motivated, everyone was incredibly composed."
O'Hanlon gives credit for that to the club's new management team of Lorraine McCaffrey and Fionnuala McAtamney, saying: "They've been excellent since coming in and something they've worked hard on has been composure.
“They've only been in six weeks but if feels like they've been here years because of the amount of work that has been put in and the girls have really responded to that.
“We were confident coming in because I think we've been improving over the last few years and actually playing better football than when we won it in 2010.
“Knowing we left it behind us last year generated determination rather than creating doubt and we were confident no matter who they had. We just concentrated on ourselves in the belief that if we played well we'd win.
“We tried to prepare for every eventuality including a sin-binning as there has been one in recent finals so when it came everybody reacted well rather than us falling apart.
“Everyone really stood up and did their job and although we made mistakes everyone was so supportive of each other and our belief that they would lose composure before we would was emphatically proved."
Lifting the Mackin's Championship trophy might seem like the perfect tonic for O'Hanlon after her anguish over Armagh's recent near miss against All Ireland champions Cork, but it means much more than that to the Cruppen captain.
“This is so special, winning with girls you grew up with, for the club my dad won the county title with way back and because of what it means to the local community. It's incredibly important to me.
“The fact our Under 14 girls also won their county title today is the icing on the cake and it will be brilliant bringing the two trophies back home to the club for a special celebration."
It was a memorable occasion for the Bessbrook/Camlough area as Shane O'Neill's won the Junior Ladies title.
SEE PAGES 35 and 46 FOR FULL COVERAGE
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