This September will mark ten years since the Offaly junior team played Waterford in the Junior All-Ireland final in Croke Park. On that day Tina Hannon scored two points for the Faithful, however the speedy sharpshooter hasn’t finished her days in Croke Park yet.
Ballyskenagh native Hannon scored a goal and six points and was named player of the match for the second year in succession as Slaughtneil completed a remarkable AIB All-Ireland Senior Club Championship three-in-a-row while the snow fell at Croke Park.
And though the landmark has been achieved by four clubs on five previous occasions, Kilkenny powerhouses St Paul’s managing it twice, this is the first time a team from a county not operating at Senior level has done so.
As newcomers to this stage, St Martin’s (Wexford) probably could have done with a good start but the opposite occurred as Hannon cut inside from the left and shot for point in the fourth minute. She didn’t catch it properly however, and to the horror of four-time Wexford All-Ireland winner and two-time All-Star Mags D’Arcy, the sliotar dropped into the corner of the net. Slaughtneil struck five of the next six points, including two classy efforts from play by Hannon and another brace from placed balls, as well as a smart finish on the swivel by Graham.
That left it 1-6 to 0-3 at the interval and as the rain transitioned into sleet and then heavy snow, Slaughtneil quickly went about putting the game to bed.
Hannon did the needful from a free within seconds of the restart and then fed Aoife Ní Chaiside, who sprang forward from centre-back to split the uprights and put eight between them.
A shivering Tina Hannon, glad to have escaped the heavy snowfall outside, quite rightly emphasised the collective culture as Slaughtneil of Derry claimed a famous third AIB All-Ireland Senior Camogie title in succession and sealed a stunning Ulster double, after Down side Clonduff’s earlier Intermediate success.
A former All-Star nominee during a fantastic career with Offaly that yielded All-Irelands at Junior and Intermediate level, the first of those a decade ago, Hannon is now firmly ensconced up north and although not involved in Slaughtneil’s first triumph, has been a key cog of all that has happened since.
“When you’re in the Final you just want to perform to the best you can” said a beaming Hannon. “We have such big leaders on the team and when you combine that with the young talent we’ve coming through, to go out and play like that today, we’re just delighted to be All-Ireland champions for the third year in a row.
“Before the game, we were just talking about winning an All-Ireland. We didn’t want to put too much emphasis on the fact we were going for a three-in-a-row, but now, that it’s being said, it’s unbelievable really.
“During the year we played Kilkenny in a practice match and Ann Downey (the Kilkenny manager who was part of the St Paul’s team that completed the three-in-a-row twice) spoke to us after and made us realise some great teams had won three-in-a-row. We had (Kilkenny hurling manager) Brian Cody speaking to us earlier in the year too.
“It’s kind of surreal to think that you’re placed among them great teams now and we’re so, so honoured.
“But that’s what’s so special about the Club Championship. A lot of the time, it’s not clubs from the county powerhouses.”