As a youngster, Ciaron O’Hanlon was destined for greatness, and looked to be a brilliant find for an Armagh side that had past its best.
Paul Grimley was the man to give O’Hanlon his chance, and at just 18 years of age, the Killeavy man was thrown into the cauldron of county football.
At the time, Grimley led out a bright and hopeful future for the young forward, stating “He’s going to be knocking about this Armagh team for the next ten years or more”.
O’Hanlon wore the Orange and White jersey for four years before the temptation of a life down-under lured him away from the round ball.
During those four years, O’Hanlon helped Armagh secure the Division Three title in 2015 and played 11 Championship games for the Orchard County.
But all is not lost, and O’Hanlon doesn’t rule out a return to the inter-county scene and and once again becoming part of Kieran McGeeney’s panel.
O’Hanlon remembers the pressure he felt on his inter-county debut and looks back at some of the best moments of his career so far.
When did you make your debut and what do you remember from the game?
I made by Senior Championship debut in 2013 against Cavan in the first round of the Ulster Championship. I remember very little about the game if I’m honest, nothing that stands out clear. I just know it was a poor performance. I do remember Paul Grimley coming to me on the Thursday night before the game and telling me he was going to start me. I was over the moon of course but I wasn’t expecting it.
Did you feel much pressure being so young getting your first start?
At the time probably not, because you’re young and naive, but looking back and thinking of the way I played, personally, I didn’t handle the hype all that well.
What was your last game for Armagh?
My last game for Armagh was against Tyrone in the 2016 All-Ireland Quarter Final. Armagh got beaten well on the day, 3-17 to 0-8.
Who is the best manager you have played under?
Kieran McGeeney and at other levels John Rafferty (who managed St Paul’s Bessbrook to a MacRory Cup Final in 2013, a game they lost 2-5 to 0-10 against Maghera. O’Hanlon captained the side as well as kicking 0-5 in the final).
What’s your best memory of playing for Armagh?
My best memory is probably coming on in the game against Kildare in Croke Park in 2017, the last game of the Qualifiers. It was a magical experience.
Are you still involved in GAA?
I done a two year stint in Sydney and won the League and Championship out there. I was back playing for Killeavy until this virus had its say.
Do you feel you will play for Armagh again?
I feel it could definitely be something I would consider, of course.
If you were still in the panel, where do you think you’d fit into the team?
You always have to believe that you are good enough to start within a team. As hard as it would be to get into the team at the moment, I could see myself battling for a position anywhere from midfield to the full forward line.