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Dublin disappointment, AFLW ambitions, rugby developments and going again

‘I would find it hard to walk away after this year. I feel like I still have a lot more to give.’

Budweiser is the official beer of the Aer Lingus College Football Classic this August. The Northwestern Wildcats will take on the Nebraska Cornhuskers in Dublin’s Aviva Stadium. Pictured at the launch is Dublin senior footballer Hannah Tyrrell.
Budweiser is the official beer of the Aer Lingus College Football Classic this August. The Northwestern Wildcats will take on the Nebraska Cornhuskers in Dublin’s Aviva Stadium. Pictured at the launch is Dublin senior footballer Hannah Tyrrell.
Image: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

HANNAH TYRRELL IS hell-bent on going again with Dublin after their disappointing 2022, though wouldn’t rule out an AFLW adventure in the future.

The former Ireland rugby international has played a key role for the Sky Blues over the past two seasons, having made a glittering return to her Gaelic football roots.

But both seasons ultimately ended in All-Ireland disappointment: defeat in last year’s final to Meath as their bid for the perfect five in-a-row came crashing down, and a premature quarter-final exit at the hands of Donegal in 2022.

Now, there are question marks over the future of several older players and Mick Bohan, the manager linked with a return to the men’s set-up. While Tyrrell wouldn’t be drawn on the latter, the 31-year-old today confirmed her own intention to carry on.

“From a team perspective, there’s kind of been no talk on what’s coming next year,” she said at the announcement of Budweiser as the official beer partner of the Aer Lingus College Football Classic. (She’s avid NFL fan herself, supporting Philadelphia Eagles.)

“We haven’t even talked about next year at all, really. I’m sure some players have made up their minds about whether they’re gonna continue or not. I’m sure there’s other players who will decide after the club season, and maybe see how they’re feeling.

“Personally, for me, the aim would be to go again, but again, that is about five or six months away now, so I’ll see how the body is. But I would find it hard to walk away after this year. I feel like I still have a lot more to give.”

Reflecting on Dublin’s season, in general, Tyrrell described it as “obviously very disappointing”.

“We went out to Donegal twice, first in the league and then again in the championship. It wasn’t the way we wanted to finish. I suppose that the highlight, you could say, is winning Leinster.

“We haven’t been in that competition for the last couple of years, I had never won a senior Leinster medal before so that was really nice to be able to get that, and obviously to do it against Meath was nice. We met them a couple of times this year and they’ve been brilliant battles, so that was obviously a very nice part of the season for us, but ultimately it wasn’t the one that we wanted.”

hannah-tyrrell-scores-a-point-despite-efforts-of-maire-oshaughnessy-and-megan-thynne Tyrrell in action against Meath. Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

The 2021 All-Star hailed Meath as “worthy winners” of Sunday’s All-Ireland final against Kerry, and welcomed the recent open, competitive nature of the ladies football landscape: this year’s final was the first since 2002 that neither Dublin or Cork featured in, the counties sharing each and every title from ’05 to ’20 before Meath took over.

“For a team to do the double is massive and for them to do it and in the manner that they have over the last couple years has been incredible. It’s great for the ladies’ game.

“The rate of women’s football is improving, it’s massive. There’s so many teams that would put themselves out there and see themselves as capable of winning an All-Ireland, and Meath have shown that on the day, any team can do it once they stick to their system and they all know their role. 

“It’s great to see so many teams in the hunt, and to see the game improving as a whole. I think the more coverage it gets, the more people are seeing that actually, it’s a really good spectacle, there’s some really good players and some really good skill on show.”

After a “strange, weird” few weeks with the split season, and plenty of free time, Tyrrell has enjoyed her club football with Na Fianna, social nights with the Dublin team, and a return to soccer after a 10-year absence.

A supremely talented Gaelic, soccer and rugby player, Tyrrell is asked if there’s any other sports she’d like to try her hand at.

After a bit of over and back, the obvious, topical one is mentioned, with 21 Irish players set for the new season Down Under and no shortage of debate on these shores.

“I’ve always been keen to have a look at the AFLW — very, very similar to rugby and a lot of skills would transfer across. But I don’t I’ll ever get into it. If I had have been a couple of years younger, it might have been something that [would have] happened for me.

“But I think it’s something that has passed me now. Who knows what will happen in the future. I’d love to give it a kickabout and see what it’s like. But I don’t know if I’d ever actually play it.”

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Asked more about it, she continued: “I would have been contacted, kind of telling me that there was a bit of an interest there for me. But I suppose I’ve a lot going on and a lot of commitment.

hannah-tyrrell Tyrrell announced her international rugby retirement in 2021. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

“A couple of years ago actually, we were over at a tournament in Sydney for the Irish Sevens team. Cora Staunton actually gave me a Louise Galvin and a couple of other girls on the team a tour of the facility and allowed us to have a kick-around. That’s the closest I’ve got so far to be honest.

“Look, what’s happening over there is brilliant. The opportunities that are there and available to play is incredible. As I said, maybe if I was a couple of years younger or I didn’t have any commitments back home, it might have been something on the radar. But not for me right now anyway.”

Tyrrell, who currently works as a teacher, also welcomed recent positive developments in Irish women’s rugby.

It was widely reported last week that the IRFU is expected to announce a string of historic first professional contracts for women’s 15s players, with official confirmation to follow in due course.

“It’s brilliant. After what was probably ultimately a disappointing year as a whole, not qualifying for the World Cup and then the Six Nations not quite going to plan, we’ve had a nice turnaround in that we’re having our first-ever summer tour to Japan, a massive positive and then off the back of that, look, nothing’s been officially announced or we don’t know who’s getting what or what that even will entail, but it’s a massive step in the right direction for the team.

“We all want to see them doing well and being given every chance to get up to the level of England and France and New Zealand, and this is the way forward. With Irish Rugby and the women’s team, we’re now looking towards the next World Cup so we’ve a huge chunk of time to start building players and developing them and getting them into really good shape and skill-set to be able to compete.”

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Emma Duffy

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