hannah tyrrell

'She's always been that energetic bunny' - The rugby and soccer star who won an All-Ireland

The 42 takes a look at the sporting career of Hannah Tyrrell across different codes.

YEARS BEFORE HER standout performance in the All-Ireland final last Sunday, Hannah Tyrrell was fulfilling a very different role for the Dublin ladies footballers.

The 2014 season ended with Dublin’s 10-point advantage being wiped out as they suffered final defeat at the hands of Cork, but when it began Tyrrell was their first-choice goalkeeper.

At least she was until the IRFU came calling to tempt her away with a contract to play sevens rugby.

She stepped away from the panel just before the league final. In her absence, veteran goalkeeper Cliodhna O’Connor was recalled to the number one jersey. A young Ciara Trant was the substitute cover for the position as Dublin’s campaign ended in grave disappointment at the final hurdle.

Tyrrell was on a different road at this point, taking a direction that would eventually yield tremendous feats across both rugby codes. A Six Nations and Triple Crown followed in 2015 as well as the honour of representing her country in the 2017 World Cup.

Out on the wing, into full-back or the kicking duties at out half – Tyrrell had the versatility to switch between an array of positions in the backs. 

103 appearances for Ireland in the World Rugby Sevens Series, 99 points, and 20 caps later, Tyrrell decided she was done with international rugby in 2021.

But she wasn’t quite ready for full-scale retirement. The work with Dublin remained unfinished.

“I know she was playing club with Na Fianna the year before, when the rugby season ended,” says Trant, who had graduated by then to first-choice goalkeeper, of Tyrrell’s second coming.

“It was obviously on her radar that she was going to get a club season under her belt and then go to see if she could get a spot with the Dubs.

“She came into the dressing room and everybody obviously knew who she was, and her reputation.

“And she just slotted into training like she’d been there all along.”

hannah-tyrrell-celebrates-after-the-game-with-aoife Hannah Tyrrell holding her baby Aoife beside the Brendan Martin Cup after winning the All-Ireland final. Laszlo Geczo / INPHO Laszlo Geczo / INPHO / INPHO

By this stage, Tyrrell was targeting an outfield position in the Dublin team. Truthfully that’s where she always wanted to play but she made the mistake of impressing as a goalkeeper. 

“That generally happens to goalkeepers: you have one good game and that’s it,” Trant explains.

“Having a good goalkeeper is like gold dust. Not so much now because there’s more goalkeepers going around but 10 years ago there were no goalkeepers, so once you had one, you were nearly guaranteed to have a strong team on the back of that.

“Hannah is the sort of person, that not so much that everything she does, she’s good at; it’s more that any challenge she’s given, she just obsesses about being really good at it.

“So if you put her in goal, she’s thinking, ‘Ok, maybe I don’t want to be in goal but nobody is going to score on me.’ ”


Before all that, soccer was the burning passion for Tyrrell. Her first sport of choice. And that was a fruitful path too as she reached two FAI Cup finals with the St Catherine’s club in Dublin. They were successful in the 2011 decider against Wilton United of Cork.

Shelbourne’s Noelle Murray was a teammate of Tyrrell’s at the time, scoring twice in their 3-1 win in the final.

Murray remembers Tyrrell’s influence on that team and the flicker of great things to come for the multi-talented athlete. Tyrrell was a defender, but she wasn’t contained by that position.

“Hannah could play anywhere for you. She even went in goals for us. She was left footed so I’m assuming she either played left back or left wing. But I’m pretty sure she scored goals as well in football, so I think she played anywhere.

“I always remember her as someone who came training and really worked hard. She brought a lot of joy to training for other people and made it interesting. She was a top athlete and you’d know that from the sports that she’s gone on to play, the awards that she’s got and the medals she has to show for it.”

In an interview with The Echo in 2020, Tyrrell recalls how a fellow Dublin teammate Charlene McKenna welcomed her to join St Catherine’s. McKenna was the team’s goalkeeper but was going on holidays, creating an opening between the sticks.

“We were stuck for a keeper and Hannah said that she could play in goal,” Murray explains taking up the story.

“We were thinking someone tall would be able to do a good job, and you’d never know that she only stepped in goals that day to play for us. You wouldn’t have thought she was an outfield player with the way she played.

“You could see it from the work-rate that she put on herself that she had such a bright future in any sport. You just couldn’t decide which sport it was going to be. She won an All-Ireland with St Catherine’s and then the awards she won with Dublin ladies, and then playing rugby for Ireland – she has a phenomenal record.”

ciara-trant Ciara Trant in action for Dublin in 2021. Laszlo Geczo / INPHO Laszlo Geczo / INPHO / INPHO


Retired rugby international Anna Caplice can’t quite recall when she first played with Tyrrell. Sevens and 15s players often crossed paths. The records will state that Tyrrell made her rugby debut in 2014, while Caplice first started to make her mark two years later. 

Tyrrell was a late starter in rugby. 23 years old to be exact.

She wasn’t exactly a rarity in that respect as some of her Ireland team-mates like Lindsay Peat and Eimear Considine were similarly late arrivals to the sport. But as Tyrrell has proven in other sports, she was a quick learner.

“There was definitely an athletic air about her,” according to Caplice.

“And there were a good few players that would have come across from other sports, especially around then. I remember being very impressed with her asking questions, and applying herself to rugby fully.

“And then being very confident in that full back position under high balls and kicking. Those crossover skills make you appear very strong in a position even if you’re only new to it.”

When Tyrrell first came into the Ireland squad, Nora Stapleton was the resident out-half for Ireland. But after the Donegal native retired in the wake of the 2017 World Cup, it was Tyrrell who found a home at 10.

To be a good 10, is to be a good General.

Direction. Organisation. Effective communication. These are the key qualities.

“The message has to be clear or else you’re wasting time,” says Caplice.

“No fuss from Hannah in terms of her communication. You’d get a clear message and then she’s gone to set up the next play which is what you need. You need to be on the front foot in terms of organisation and she was definitely very good at that.”


On Sunday, Noelle Murray found herself watching the All-Ireland final in a pub. When Tyrrell’s face flashed across the screen, she directed her gaze at her former teammate and informed those around her about how she once shared a pitch with the Dubs star.

The pair aren’t in regular contact these days but Murray admires Tyrrell’s achievements from a distance. 

“She’s never changed. She’s always been that big energetic bunny here, there and everywhere. She covers so much ground.

“If we ever see each other out, we’d always stop and chat. I wouldn’t see much of her, we wouldn’t be from the same area. Even seeing her play rugby, I remember that I used to play with her and now she plays rugby for Ireland, and GAA for Dublin. What else can she achieve?”

Tyrell’s highlights reel would make an impressive video of skills and scores. But the matches are not the most prominent memory for Caplice, Murray or Trant where Tyrrell is concerned. 

hannah-tyrrell-celebrates-winning Hannah Tyrrell at the 2017 World Cup. Dan Sheridan / INPHO Dan Sheridan / INPHO / INPHO

“I struggle to remember games but I always remember Hannah in the dressing room,” says Caplice.

“She was always up for a laugh. Whether it was at training or before or after games, she was always ready to join in with the craic.

“Always a presence wanting to connect with her teammates.”

Trant was treated to Tyrrell’s positivity during the two separate chapters of her Dublin career. Whether she was a goalkeeper or a player further out the field, it was always a good time with Tyrrell.

“She’s a very social person. For someone with her talent and achievements, you’d think she’s very focused and tunnel-visioned. But she’s actually extremely laid back and casual which is probably why she’s so successful. At the heart of every session, if there’s any craic or banter, you’d see Hannah Tyrrell’s head right in the middle of it.”

And yet Tyrrell carried a heavy burden with her throughout her career in sport. She has spoken openly and candidly about her issues with her mental health in the past, permitting herself to be vulnerable with the public in an effort to help others with their own struggles.

An FAI Cup winner.

Six Nations and Triple Crown success.

And now an All-Ireland medal after losing the final in 2021.

From a goalkeeper, to an Ireland out-half and a star forward for Dublin.

“It’s good to know that, as her teammate, just to look out for players like that and it’s funny because you’d never know that about her,” says Caplice.

“You’d never see her getting overwhelmed on the pitch so it seems that sport was an outlet for her.

“Well done to her for that and even if a player doesn’t look like they’re struggling, it’s not always the way. It’s taught us a lot about being open and honest about how you’re feeling.”

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