Following a difficult couple of years, Tipperary’s ladies footballers have their mojo back – and Edel Hanley’s return to the fold this year has played a major part in the Premier County’s renaissance.
After getting married in 2014, Aherlow star Hanley decided to take some time out from the inter-county game.
Hanley, 33, kicked 10 points in the 2008 TG4 All-Ireland intermediate final victory over Clare before suffering defeat in the 2013 final against Cavan.
She was renowned as one of the most complete forwards in the game but Tipp’s fortunes plummeted over the last two seasons, with a number of players controversially axed from the panel during John Leahy’s tenure before Gerry McGill brought them back this year.
Hanley, an All Star in 2008, accepted McGill’s invitation to come back on board and she describes her decision to don the blue and gold again as the best she’s ever made.
The set-up, according to Hanley, is top class and the prolific forward smiled: “It’s the best decision I’ve made to come back. I’m delighted to be a part of it, I’m really, really enjoying it.”
She’s captain, too, and relishing the prospect of leading Tipperary into another national final, when they face off against old rivals Waterford in Saturday’s Lidl Division 3 decider.
Hanley added: “It’s a great set-up, a great panel of players, great management team and everybody is very positive.
“Everyone is back playing and the best players in the county are part of the panel. That’s what you want.”
Hanley, living in Offaly, is a teaching instructor at the Garda College in Templemore.
She’s been in the force for 12 years and applied for her new role in 2014, an application that proved successful.
She makes three-hour round trips to link up with the Tipperary squad three times a week but Hanley has managed to strike the right balance in life between personal and professional.
She explained: “It’s a very different job now to what it was when I started off. I’m in the instructor role now in the college, it’s very enjoyable and like a new job really.
“I’m really enjoying working with new recruits.” Before returning to inter-county football this year, Hanley’s previous competitive outing for Tipp was that 2013 All-Ireland loss.
She recalled: “The fact that I was changing jobs and getting married were factors in not playing county.
“When I got the call from Gerry, there was only one decision to be made.
“When your county wants you, you want to play for them.”
Hanley could add another medal to her collection at the weekend but accepts that the challenge will be tough as Waterford, 2015 All-Ireland champions and now a senior outfit, stand in Tipp’s way in a straight shoot-out for promotion to Division 2.
Hanley notes: “Waterford are a superb outfit, they’re fit, strong, determined.
“They’re reigning All-Ireland (intermediate) champions, a senior team and we’re under no illusions on Saturday.
“We’ll have it all to do but we’re looking forward to it and we’re in a good place.
“We’re in a bit of bonus territory to reach a national final but delighted to be there.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved