Gaelic Football

Hannah Tyrrell ‘For Me, I Actually Don’t Feel I’ve Played Up To My Own Potential Yet’

The LGFA world should be afraid. Very afraid.

Despite having clocked 19 points in the championship, a ‘Laoch na hImeartha’ award in the semis and a player of the month accolade for May, Dublin’s Hannah Tyrrell hasn’t even reached her top gear as of yet.

Having took ladies Gaelic by storm after her international rugby hiatus the 30-year-old is “ready for whatever [Meath] throw” at the Sky Blues come Sunday afternoon in what she expects to be “a cracker of a match.”

“I actually feel like I haven’t played up to my own potential. I do think I’m still learning and probably have another level to come” she says.

“I came in not really knowing what to expect, not knowing whether I’d be able to keep up with some of the girls in the squad or even get a jersey so to come away with a league title, only Dublin’s second ever I think is phenomenal.”

“For me, my aim was to win a senior all Ireland. And we’re nearly there.”

Fast approaching of course, the target is almost upon the former 7’s and 15’s fly half who found herself with a “free summer” on her hands following her retirement from Irish rugby.

With personal commitments and the delay of the World Cup by a year pushing her to make the move away from the oval ball to the round, the Na Fianna member had to “learn the ropes” of the game again since she last played in 2014 but found her experience from a high-performance environment vitally transferable to that of senior football.

“A big adjustment for me was the amount of time the ball is in play” the teacher by trade says.

“In rugby you get a penalty, you kick it into touch and you take a minute or two of a break and there’s a line out or whatever else. In GAA you know, the ball is back in probably within 10 seconds or so.”

“I think the first couple of games I got caught out a few times because I was like, ‘oh, time to relax’ and my player ran up the pitch!”

“You know, that was probably one of the bigger adjustments, the constant going for 60 minutes with very, very few stoppages.”

“It’s been a challenge, but it’s been a really enjoyable one and I’m constantly trying to learn but yeah, just that continuity of the play is a massive [difference].”

Another being the physicality contrast between the two codes, the capital city half forward believes “there could be an opportunity to allow a little bit more contact in women’s football.”

“You can’t put it on the same par as rugby, but I would like to see a little bit more physicality being allowed in the game because you know, the women’s game is developing so much and most county teams, if not even club teams are in the gym each week and getting stronger and stronger each time.”

“I think it’s just going to make the skill level even better. It’s incredible already and it makes for good viewing, but nobody wants to see that stop start game of constant frees and constantly fouling. Everybody wants free flowing football.”

The discrepancy in her conduct on the pitch not visible to onlookers, quite the opposite could be said of Tyrrell’s appearances as she has become a key player in their drive for five successive Brendan Martin cups.

Beyond making headlines for her ecstatic displays, what also brought a smile to all was that of her “mad but and not a bad week” surrounding the Mayo semi-final.

“The wedding was booked long before I had any notions of playing for Dublin so that just happened to fall in the same week and I’m very lucky that it was a midweek wedding and not a weekend” she says beaming.

“Hopefully we’re smiling next Sunday.”

And where would that badge of honor lie amongst her melee of rugby distinctions?

“It’d definitely up there.”

“I’m very lucky to have won so many incredible titles in the past and again, they’re two different sports but the All Ireland is something I’ve been looking for a long, long time.”

“It definitely would be one of my most cherished medals up there with the Six Nations.”

Alanna Cunnane

Alanna Cunnane is currently pursuing her studies in journalism and is an avid women in sport advocate, with a keen interest in all sports. Alanna writes for her local paper in Sligo and also reports for Ocean FM radio. Instagram: @acunnane | Twitter: @:ACunnane10 |

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