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Hannah Tyrrell Says Daughter Helped Her Switch Off From Dublin Pressures

23 August 2023; Dublin ladies footballer Hannah Tyrrell with her Player of the Month Finals award at the PwC offices in Dublin. Photo by Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
Eoin Harrington
By Eoin Harrington
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Though Dublin were excellent on All-Ireland final day it was, in reality, the Hannah Tyrrell show at Croke Park.

The 33-year-old Na Fianna forward was undoubtedly the star of the day on the pitch, as she scored 0-08 in a sensational first half performance which put clear daylight between the Dubs and Kerry.

For her exploits in the All-Ireland final, Tyrrell was named the PwC GPA Women’s Player of the Month – Final, and spoke exclusively to Balls.ie this week on her return to the Dublin panel, the birth of her daughter Aoife, and the importance of the #UnitedForEquality protests in 2023.

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Hannah Tyrrell on arrival of daughter and the #UnitedForEquality protests

Hannah Tyrrell rejoined the Dublin panel in 2021, after seven years away from Gaelic football to focus on her rugby career - indeed, she will be part of the punditry team for RTÉ for the upcoming Rugby World Cup in France.

She returned to the intercounty GAA scene off the back of a period during which Dublin were perennial winners, with a four-in-a-row of All-Ireland titles between 2017 and 2020.

It was not the same situation for Dublin in the years following Tyrrell's return, as they suffered an All-Ireland final defeat to Meath in 2021, before losing out in the quarter-final to Donegal in 2022.


Dublin Donegal All-Ireland quarter-final

16 July 2023; Leah Caffrey, left, and Carla Rowe of Dublin after the TG4 LGFA All-Ireland Senior Championship Quarter-Final match between Donegal and Dublin at MacCumhaill Park in Ballybofey, Donegal. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

There was to be no such pain in 2023 - and Tyrrell thinks that Dublin's win against Donegal at the same stage this year was when the All-Ireland drive began to feel real:


I think different people have different moments. I think when it clicked, for me, I would say was the Donegal quarter-final.

I knew we had something really, really special. We probably hadn't been performing really well in our matches before then, but grinding out results.

The Donegal match - particularly after losing a quarter-final to them in '22 - we had to travel up there and we knew it was going to be tough work. To put in a performance against a really good team like Donegal and not just beat them, but nullify their attack and really excel in our attack. That's when I said, 'we have something special here and we could go on and achieve something.'

It is a remarkably young Dublin team, and Tyrrell says that she got a shock when she realised earlier in the year she was the oldest player on this year's panel.

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The youth in this team is cause for excitement for Dublin fans - and Tyrrell believes the best is yet to come:


I think I remember earlier on in the season the Dublin LGFA put up a page of stats on social media saying the average age was 22. At that time, I was the oldest in the squad by about five years - so I was definitely bringing that average age up massively!

Look, there are some quality, quality players coming through. The likes of Niamh Crowley, Niamh Donlon, our two corner-backs that started the All-Ireland final - only 19 years of age.

Then you look at the likes of Jennifer Dunne, who's an absolute star, and has been for this Dublin team. Caoimhe O'Connor and Kate Sullivan - they're only 22, 23 years of age, they have years and years ahead of them with this Dublin team if they want.

There's no doubt there's a lot of potential there, but the beauty of sport is...who knows what's going to happen year-in-year-out? That's what makes it so exciting.

I've no doubt that Dublin will be up there and competing, and I obviously hope that they end up winning. But nothing is a given yet, you have to work really really hard to get there.


Several of this team were also All-Ireland winners during the four-in-a-row, but Hannah Tyrrell was not one of them.


You can't exactly argue with her decision to leave - after all, she did win a Six Nations title with Ireland in 2015 - but it did lead to her missing out on a golden period of Dublin football.

Hannah Tyrrell rugby

27 February 2015; Hannah Tyrrell, Ireland, is tackled by Lauren Cattell, England. Women's Six Nations Rugby Championship, Ireland v England. Ashbourne RFC, Ashbourne, Co. Meath. Picture credit: Piaras Ó Mídheach / SPORTSFILE

She tells us that despite that Six Nations crown and having an FAI Cup winner's medal to her name, winning a senior All-Ireland title at last is the "pinnacle" of her sporting career, saying it is something she has been chasing since she first pulled on a Dublin jersey in her early teens.

It has been a special summer all round for the Tyrrell family. Just seven weeks before Hannah's immense performance against Kerry at Croke Park, her wife Sorcha gave birth to their first child, Aoife.

Hannah Tyrrell All-Ireland final

13 August 2023; Player of the match Hannah Tyrrell of Dublin celebrates with her daugher Aoife, age 7 weeks, and the Brendan Martin Cup after victory in the 2023 TG4 LGFA All-Ireland Senior Championship Final match between Dublin and Kerry at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Aoife Tyrrell Turnbull would go on to be something of an unexpected star of All-Ireland final day, and Tyrrell says her presence in her home with Sorcha has not only made the summer more special, but acted as a welcome distraction from the pressures of her efforts with Dublin:

I was lucky enough, I suppose, I had a very big distraction at home in our daughter. I didn't have too much time to dwell on it being a big game or the nerves or whatever else.

When you have a newborn at home, obviously sleep is impacted massively. In fairness to Aoife, she was fairly good to me the week of the All-Ireland, she started to sleep practically through the night which was very, very nice of her.

But yeah, she definitely became a bit of a household name. When I arrive up at training they don't really care about me anymore, it's all about Aoife!

My preparations were only disrupted slightly in terms of dealing with her - but it was good for my head because I wasn't thinking about the game too much. I had something else to focus on.

Having her there after the game and being able to celebrate with her and bring her on the pitch was very, very special.

It was indeed a special moment for Hannah Tyrrell and the Dublin team, but there was a part of Tyrrell that felt a pang of sadness for her friends on the Kerry team, who she hopes can taste All-Ireland glory in the years to come.

Some of those girls I'd be very good friends with, and it's really tough to see them lose.

Fortunately for us, we got the better of them on the day. It is tough to see, there's players there that have been going around for years - the likes of Lorraine Scanlon, Louise Ní Muircheartaigh, Anna Galvin. They all deserve a senior All-Ireland.

It's tough to see them lose. I'm really good friends with Louise Galvin...we obviously played rugby sevens together. I wanted her to win so, so much. But it would have come at the cost of me and vice versa.

I really hope that they do get a senior All-Ireland at some point. Just not at the expense of Dublin, obviously!

Across camogie and ladies football, one of the biggest stories of 2023 was the strong unified front in protest against the poor conditions which continue to be prevalent across both codes in comparison with their male equivalents.

The #UnitedForEquality protests were among the most memorable elements of the 2023 intercounty season, and the battle for equal treatment across all four codes is one that has seen slow but steady progress across the year.

Dublin UnitedForEquality

16 July 2023; Young players watch on at the Dublin team during the National Anthem before the TG4 LGFA All-Ireland Senior Championship Quarter-Final match between Donegal and Dublin at MacCumhaill Park in Ballybofey, Donegal. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

For Hannah Tyrrell and her Dublin teammates, their stand in support of the #UnitedForEquality protests was not necessarily for themselves, but for counties elsewhere who have had to work in much tougher, unacceptable conditions.

Tyrrell believes that the end result of such protests can only be a positive, once change does indeed come - and the work is only just getting started:

Those protests began because we felt there was a lack of equality across all the four codes in terms of the standard that was being set around pitches and changing rooms.

We're very lucky here with the Dublin ladies' team that we're very well looked after - but I know that's not the same, I suppose, for every team in every code.

We wanted to have a united front to ensure that everyone was given equal opportunity to put their best foot forward and be able to put those performances on a pitch.

Thankfully, we were able to come to an agreement with the LGFA to get a charter in place so that we could see these improvements for next year. I don't think we'll really see the measure of change until next season, when this charter is in place. We can then look at it from there and see where we're at.

Obviously, I'm delighted that that has been proposed and hopefully that does make changes and brings in improvements for all teams in all codes.

Hopefully that then leads to better games on show and players being better looked after.

Featured image: Sportsfile

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