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Player of the Match Caroline O'Hanlon passes the ball (Morgan Harlow)

Doctor, netballer, and Gaelic football star, Caroline O’Hanlon admits that the day job puts the trials and tribulations of being an international athlete into perspective.

O’Hanlon will lead Team Northern Ireland in netball at this summer’s Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, with the Games following hot on the heels of club side Thunder’s triumph in the Vitality Netball Superleague.

But O’Hanlon’s talents do not stop there, with the 37-year-old also representing Gaelic football side Armagh LGFA.

Being a multi-sport athlete would be more than enough pressure for most people, but the Newry-born star combines her exceptional sporting record with a remarkable career as a doctor.

But for O’Hanlon, splitting her time between the three is a blessing, not a curse.

“In terms of work, it is a good reality check to realise that there are things beyond sport and that you are dealing with stress and pressure and time management,” said O’Hanlon, who was speaking during a four nation photoshoot in Birmingham, which saw athletes from each of the home nations come together for the very first time to celebrate the final countdown to the Games.

“So that is obviously vital when you’re competing in sport, just dealing with pressure but also it gives that reality check that it is just sport at the end of the day.

“And then Gaelic and netball have a lot of crossover skills, and I think that just the physicality of Gaelic has added that element to my netball.”

O’Hanlon was named a Gaelic football All-Star on three occasions at the Ladies’ Gaelic Football All-Stars Awards and was named as the 2014 TG4 Senior Player’s Player of the Year.

 

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She was also a member of the Ireland women’s international rules football team that defeated Australia in the 2006 Ladies’ International Rules Series, and in 2010 she was named Northern Ireland Sportswoman of the Year.

This year, O’Hanlon helped steer Thunder to an undefeated season in the Vitality Netball Superleague and will be hoping for more silverware come 7 August.

She added: “Netball has grown and become a lot more physical game, so I think that has really benefitted me.

“If you didn’t get that feeling of excitement, then you would not do it.

“It is a big effort, but it is definitely worth it, and as I say, I travel to compete throughout the year, and if I wasn’t enjoying it or if I didn’t still have that buzz around it, then I would not be doing it.”

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