Hannah Looney back in the swing after striking a balance between life and sport

Aghada dual star is ready to step into leadership role after collecting second camogie All-Star
Hannah Looney back in the swing after striking a balance between life and sport

Cork's Hannah Looney drives the sliotar down the pitch. Picture: INPHO/Bryan Keane

CORK camogie All-Star Hannah Looney felt out of sorts in 2019.

In an interview with Eoghan Cormican last October, Hannah recalled how she was feeling.

“I felt I was in a bit of a rut, in a hole, and I kept digging down further and further,” Hannah said. “It got to a stage where I wasn’t seeing the life in things I normally would, like going out with friends.

“That seemed to bring more anxiety than good. All the things that normally brought joy into my life weren’t enjoyed as much. I just felt pretty anxious around people,” she said in the piece below.

I chatted with Hannah about how life is for her today, particularly with all the Covid restrictions.

“I’m grand: Struggling a bit with lockdown, but its affecting everyone that way, I think,” Hannah said.

“I’m living in Kilkenny, at the moment, and working with MSD in Carlow. I graduated in 2019, as a chemical engineer, and went on a leadership-development programme in MSD.

“The goal is that, over three years, you do three rotations in three different sites, working on different programmes, one of which is an international site.

“I worked in Brinny for a year and my intention was to go to the Netherlands for a year, but that halted with Covid.

“So, I landed in Carlow, one way or another,” Hannah said.

“I’m here until September and hoping then to go international again, but it’s hard to know. I hope to play the season and then head off, but it’s hard to plan anything, at the moment. I’m trying not to think too much about it.

I think I’m very good on my mental-health side of things. I think I learned a lot from my experiences and was fortunate to get help and have good support.

“I’m in a good place, maybe matured a bit, as well, got to grips with how the real world worked. Overall, I’m good. The college lifestyle was probably at the root of a lot of things.

“I don’t think I regret it. I had my fun and I’m happy enough now to move on, having learned a lot." 

REFRESHED

"In 2020, I really enjoyed the club season. I haven’t had that time with my club since U12, just having the craic with the girls: I really enjoyed it.

“Getting back into inter-county took a bit of time for me. We’re in a transitional period with the team and losing out on the pre-season work with that younger group had a big effect on us.

“When the pressure comes on, it's knowing what to do in those situations.

The Aghada player picked up her second All-Star at right half-back and she was thrilled.

“It was nice to have something to celebrate with the family,” Hannah said. “It was a very disappointing year and, obviously, it doesn’t replace an All-Ireland medal in any sense, but it’s a nice boost.”

Hannah felt there was a specific turning point, where she learned a lot about herself.

“Where I learned the most about myself was during the UCC O’Connor Cup weekend and the camogie league semi-final in 2018. Cork had a league semi-final against Limerick and the O’Connor Cup was on the same weekend,” Hannah said.

“We were threatened with various things if we didn’t play with Cork.

“I played the league semi-final. I played well. I was really sad I didn’t play the O’Connor Cup (UCC lost) and I was probably a bigger loss to UCC.

“Looking back, I should have played. I really struggled with that. I found it tough. I remember the league final came around against Kilkenny and I was dropped on the day.

I was told all the reasons afterwards and they can make sense, but I just felt, ‘flip all this’ and I stepped away for a couple of weeks.

"It was probably there that I learned the most about myself.

“During that time, I was asked to go back onto the Cork football panel, which was great.”

So, what did she learn about herself?

“I just kind of thought that I need to put myself first in any of these situations and not succumb to the pressure, to do what’s best for me no matter what, and then live with that decision, even if it’s selfish.

“But if it’s right for me, it’s probably the thing to do. I was proud of myself that I went back to the camogie set-up after that.

“I’m at a place now where I can have those chats with Paudie Murray and Ephie Fitzgerald.

“For example, if I need a rest from camogie, to recognise that and take it, but still do something like work on my first touch. 

"To just know, not in a cocky way, but to understand what my body and I need. So, that was a turning point for me and I’ve been building since.”

NEXT STEP

Hannah feels now is the time to step up as a leader on the team.

“Yeah, I suppose this year is probably the first year I’ve felt that, particularly when Gemma O'Connor retired recently.

“I was emotional over that. It’s going to be very important for us now, over the next couple of years, to step into those shoes.

“I’m fortunate that I’ve matured over the years and watched those players. They just got the job done. I must do the same now.”

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