Hannah Tyrrell aiming for a busy July as both a player and a supporter

Dublin footballer eyeing more success but also plans to watch her former rugby team-mates at the Olympic Games in Paris

Hannah Tyrrell hopes July will see her book a trip to Croke Park with Dublin before flying to Paris to support some of her former team-mates represent Ireland in the Rugby Sevens at the Olympic Games.

Tyrrell, who made her debut in 2014, played 103 World Rugby Sevens Series games for Ireland and scored 99 points, before retiring in 2021.

She has been one of the standout Gaelic footballers in the country in recent years and scored 0-8 during a Player of the Match display in last August’s All-Ireland final win over Kerry.

Playing rugby for Ireland at the Olympics was once a goal, but Tyrrell – a history and geography teacher at St Patrick’s Cathedral Grammar School in Dublin – has moved on now and is content to cheer on the team in France.

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“When they qualified last year there was a little bit in my stomach of, ‘Jeez, that would be amazing’. It was something I obviously tried to do for seven or eight years but no, I’m just so proud of the girls and I’m really looking forward to it,” says Tyrrell.

“My plan had been to continue playing, go to the Olympics, but I had kind of wanted to start my career as well and it’s quite difficult to do that with rugby, so I retired but I’m looking forward to watching the girls in Paris.

“They have worked so hard and become such a good team over the last couple of years that they have a huge chance of getting a medal. I will be over there watching them.”

The women’s tournament takes place in Paris from July 28th-30th, and a group of former Ireland Sevens players are planning a trip over to watch the action. Tyrrell played alongside several of those still involved, including Lucy Mulhall, Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe and Stacey Flood.

Should Dublin advance to the semi-final stages of the TG4 All-Ireland senior football championship this summer, then they will be in action at O’Connor Park on Saturday July 20th. With the All-Ireland final fixed for August 4th in Croke Park, there would be a small window of opportunity for Tyrrell to take in the Sevens.

“I think the girls will play on a Monday and a Tuesday over three sessions, so I might be okay with training, but I’ll have to take it easy,” she smiles.

Meath’s Vikki Wall is trying to follow in Tyrrell’s footsteps and is currently part of the Sevens set-up. Wall has not been included in the squad for this weekend’s HSBC Grand Final in Madrid but Tyrrell feels the Dunboyne native could still feature in the Olympics.

“She has been to a couple of tournaments over the last while. Sevens, because she came from a non-rugby background, she had so much to learn and in fairness to her from what I’ve heard she has got stuck in and learned her trade,” says Tyrrell.

“It’s a huge learning experience, you are playing against girls who have been playing rugby since they were four or five. Everybody is incredibly strong and incredibly skilful and fast, but she has got in there and she’s obviously doing something right because she has been going to tournaments and stuff like that.

“I’m sure she is going full throttle to make that Olympic squad that will be announced in the next six weeks or so.”

Before all of that, Tyrrell hopes to help Dublin navigate a path back towards the business end of the Brendan Martin Cup competition. Dublin, who recently retained the Leinster title, have been drawn in a group alongside Kildare and Mayo for the All-Ireland series.

At 33, and having become a parent for the first time, Tyrrell spent the winter weighing up whether to return to the Dublin squad for the 2024 season. Ultimately, she threw her lot back in with the Dubs – and baby Aoife has even made an appearance at some squad gym sessions in recent weeks.

“Management have been very understanding, coming to training a bit later sometimes or having to bring Aoife along. When you have 35-plus childminders there, it’s handy!

“I thought about it [coming back] a lot, I was just kind of deciding did I have it in me, did I have a bit of life left in the body and was I willing to give up time with my daughter at home?

“I had a chat with family because they are the ones making the sacrifices for me to let me out to train. Dublin have been brilliant too and I felt like I had something still to give and could help the younger players coming through this year. I still had that fire in the belly to try and go on and do a bit more.”

Gordon Manning

Gordon Manning

Gordon Manning is a sports journalist, specialising in Gaelic games, with The Irish Times