Wednesday 22 November 2017

Where are they now?

DIANE O'HORA

(Former Mayo footballer)

Seven years ago, Mayo star forward Diane O'Hora broke the hearts of the Dublin ladies football team when she hit the net in the dying minutes of the All-Ireland football final to snatch a narrow victory for her county.

By that stage of her career, O'Hora had three All-Ireland medals under her belt; 1999, though, was the special one for the sharpshooter. Mayo had never won an All-Ireland before, O'Hora was the captain and Waterford provided the opposition. Mayo went into the game as underdogs, they were a young team with no experience, Waterford were going for the second successive title and had dominated ladies football throughout the 1990s.

"I will never forget 1999, the homecoming especially," revealed O'Hora. "The reception we got was unbelievable and being captain for that occasion made it extra memorable. But it's only looking back on it now that I really appreciate it."

Mayo went on to win three more All-Irelands before O'Hora hung up her boots in 2007. They lost the final to Cork that year and the All-Star decided to end her quest for five All-Ireland titles.

"I think from a personal point of view sometimes things just need to change. I felt it was time for me to move on and look at different things. After that final I just knew I wouldn't play inter-county football again."

But finishing with the county didn't spell the end of her football career, O'Hora kept playing club football and in 2010 won a Dublin intermediate county title with Clanna Gael Fontenoy. A lot has changed in ladies football since O'Hora first started out but the Mayo native concedes it hasn't all been for the better.

"It's very unclear from a physicality point of view what's allowed and what is not in ladies football. The ambiguity of the rules is very frustrating. I also have serious issues with the inconsistencies in refereeing and I think it needs to be addressed."

Since finishing a Business Masters in Smurfit College, O'Hora has been working as a medical device rep. Later in the year, she plans to get involved with the Gaelic for Mothers initiative in her adopted club Clanna Gael. One thing for sure is that she will never lose her love for football and she'll be in Croke Park today.

"I would really like to see Tyrone win because Dublin have had their chances, but the likelihood is that Dublin's experience might see them over the line."

Sunday Independent

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