‘My aim as soon as I came into the squad was to win a Senior All Ireland and we are nearly there.’ -Hannah Tyrrell
Irish Rugby’s loss was Dublin’s gain this season with the second coming of Hannah Tyrrell back to the sky blues fold after a seven year absence.
The former Irish Rugby international announced her arrival back on the scene in late May in Dublin’s opening league game against Waterford scoring 1-05 with her cultured left foot.
It wasn’t just the scoring tally though that impressed, her ball winning ability, work rate, passing and clever interplay really caught the eye.
Any thoughts that Hannah’s opening performance was a one-off were quickly dismissed just six days later in the cauldron of Pairc Uí Chaoimh against bitter rivals Cork.
Tyrell was just sublime in the game, a quick fire 2-02 in a three minute second half spell seen the Na Fianna player finish Dublin’s top scorer on the day with a total of 2-07.
Her scoring total over the league campaign was an impressive 3-29 with 0-07 of that scored against Cork in the Division 1 League Final as Dublin won only their second ever Division 1 title.
Since her debut Tyrrell has won a number of player of the match awards including the All Ireland semi final win over Mayo, the player of the month award for May, a place on the team of the league, a Division 1 league title and is now just sixty minutes away from adding a senior All Ireland medal to her collection.
It’s been a busy year for Hannah Tyrrell not just on the pitch, but also off it with her wedding taking place the week leading up to the All Ireland semi final.
In what has been a whirlwind season can Hannah Tyrrell quite believe that she is about to play in her first Senior All Ireland Final?
“Look yes I can replied Hannah, we put in a lot of hard work this year, but for me personally I suppose at the start of the year it wasn’t something I was targeting, but things changed as time went on and here we are, as soon as I came on this panel this is where I wanted to be come September and hopefully we are smiling on Sunday.”
Tyrrell was thrown in from the start of Dublin’s league campaign and has been an ever present since, it wasn’t something she expected when she joined the squad but has throughly enjoyed the the last couple of months.
“I don’t really know what I expected to be honest, I hadn’t played a whole lot of football and I thought I’d come and learn the ropes throughout the league and be able to add something to this squad and hopefully I’ve done that, but it’s just been a phenomenal couple of months and I’m kind of sad it’s coming to an end so quickly.”
Coming from one sport into another brings many challenges with it, but what we’re the biggest challenges for Hannah on her return to the game and the Dublin set-up.
“I suppose kind of learning the way that Dublin like to play replied Tyrrell, I played a bit of club football with Na Fianna last year, but that’s much more kind of freestyle in some aspects of it and I was just allowed to play.
“So I had to come into a winning squad and try and be an asset to them here and that was quite challenging and obviously just getting use to the game again, prior to last year, it was six years since I’d played so that was definitely a big challenge for me.”
Dublin will face the unknown quantity of a young Meath side in tomorrow’s All Ireland Final and that in itself will bring its own challenges, but Hannah thinks despite the challenges that facing an unfamiliar opponent will bring, the novel pairing is great for the game.
“I think it’s great for the women’s game to have that bit of change up and Meath have been excellent all year and have put in some really good performances and have some excellent players and they play good football.
“So we are trying to focus on ourselves a little bit and keep a little bit of an eye on Meath and hopefully we are ready for whatever they throw at us and we are up for the challenge, I think it should be a cracker of a match and I just can’t wait.”
Since returning to Gaelic football the biggest difference Hannah Tyrell found to her playing days in Rugby is the amount of time the ball is in play and admits that it was one of the biggest adjustments she had to make.
“The biggest difference for me was the amount of time the ball is in play, in rugby you get a penalty, you kick it to touch, you take a minute or two and then there’s a line out.
“In GAA the ball is back in play in about ten seconds or so and that was a big adjustment for me, I think the first couple of games I got caught out a couple of times, ah time to relax and my player ran up the pitch, but that was probably one of the bigger adjustments, the constantly going for sixty minutes with very, very few stoppages, look it’s been a challenge but it’s been a really enjoyable one and I’m constantly trying to learn.”
Tyrell is now within touching distance of adding a Senior All Ireland medal to her collection of medals including a six nations medal, the league title has already been secured as have a number of personal accolades so in her eyes has this been the dream season
“Well hopefully a dream season, ask me after the game on Sunday and see what I say replied Hannah.
“But yes look never did I expect to have the season I’ve had so far and even for me I feel that I haven’t played to my full potential, I do think I’m still learning a lot and I have another level, but yes it’s been great I came in not really knowing what to expect, not knowing whether I would be able to keep up with some of the girls in the squad or even get a jersey and to come away with a league title, only Dublin’s second ever is phenomenal and for me my aim as soon as I came into the squad was to win a Senior All Ireland and we are nearly there.”