Since breaking through as a 16-year-old with Offaly in 2007, Siobhán Flannery has taken on many roles but has largely controlled games from midfield or especially centre-back.
Today, Offaly host Tipperary at St Brendan’s Park in Birr with a place in the Liberty Insurance All-Ireland quarter-finals up for grabs.
Last Tuesday, Flannery was on 24-hour guard duty as a member of the defence forces. It isn’t ideal preparation but it is part of a job she loves so she deals with it.
“Once you get your rest it’s fine and here, they’re very nice about it” says Flannery. “They won’t put you on the day before a big game. You can work around it.”
The St Rynagh’s star has been deployed in a different position at full-forward this year. Always a major scorer by virtue of her prodigious shooting from long distance, she is causing serious problems closer to goal now with her ball-winning power and accuracy, to such an extent that she was named WGPA player of the month for May.
“It’s a big change but I don’t mind. I’ll play where I’m put. I suppose the forwards is a nice place to be if you want to get on the scoreboard. At centre-back you control everything, at full-forward you have to be patient and wait. When the opportunity comes, and they don’t come too often, you have to take them. It’s a waiting game sometimes.”
Flannery was still a teenager as Offaly enjoyed a golden period, playing in three successive All-Ireland finals. They lost the premier junior decider in 2008 at the death to Clare but made no mistake 12 months later and then in 2010, made the leap to the senior grade by capturing the intermediate title.
“From 2008 up to the first year in senior, they were brilliant years. There was a camaraderie there with the girls. Everything was building towards that. It was just a matter of getting the right bunch of girls at the right time with the right management and it happened.”
She is optimistic that with the introduction of a host of young players by Paddy Kirwan, something similar might be about to happen, as they blend with the more experienced mob such as herself, Arlene Watkins, Tina Hannon, and Michaela Morkan.
“We didn’t put in any performance against Wexford but all the other games have gone well, the training’s been going well so hopefully that’s the only slip-up we’ll have in the year. We’re hitting a peak and hopefully we can push it on.”
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