Being selected as the official flag-bearer for Team NI at today’s Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games opening ceremony was richly deserved recognition for outstanding dual sportswoman Caroline O’Hanlon.
The Armagh ladies football star is in Australia as captain of the Northern Ireland netball team, having successfully combined both sports at the highest level for the past decade-and-a-half.
The 33-year-old doctor from Bessbrook will proudly lead the 90-strong Team NI, featuring athletes from 13 sports, into the Carrara Stadium for the lavish opening ceremony.
“I was shocked to be asked and humbled to be given this huge honour. I’m exceptionally proud to lead out such a talented team of competitors from across the sporting spectrum. It will be emotional, I’m sure, especially when I think of all those who have helped me throughout my career,”said O’Hanlon this week.
The 33-year-old is proud of her Armagh roots, as symbolised by the orange footwear she sports on the netball court, and being given the honour of flag-bearer reflects O’Hanlon’s superstar status in both her sports.
A member of the national netball team since 2002, she has helped Northern Ireland rise from 21st in the world to the top eight over the past decade.
Orchard ace O’Hanlon and Tyrone captain Neamh Woods have put their NFL Division Two promotion rivalry on hold to team up for the Northern Ireland netball team at the Gold Coast Games. O’Hanlon captains a squad of 12, which also includes current Ulster Schools All Star Michelle Magee, who helped Carryduff to a first Down senior title last season and was part of the Antrim county panel. The teenage prospect is the only player in this squad aged under 25.
Now in her 17th consecutive season with Armagh, Carrickcruppen clubwoman O’Hanlon captained Armagh to their last Ulster title triumph in 2014, between back-to-back NFL promotions, and consecutive All-Ireland semi- finals.
She has received nine All Star nominations and collected awards in 2006, 2012 and 2014 while she has also been named the NI Sportswoman of the Year on several occasions.
Caroline also played for Ireland in the one-off International Rules series against Australia in 2006, just after Armagh’s only All-Ireland senior final appearance, when the lost to Cork.
O’Hanlon’s full profile appears in tomorrow’s edition of Gaelic Life
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