2018 Superleague Squad – Thunder sign Northern Ireland international Caroline O’Hanlon

Manchester Thunder have signed Northern Ireland international Caroline O’Hanlon.

The experienced centre comes into the squad after enjoying a strong Superleague season with Sirens.

A qualified doctor, O’Hanlon joins the Black and Yellows following the departure of Gabriella Marshall to the BenecoMavericks.

And the 33-year-old admits she could not pass up the opportunity to join one of Superleague’s most successful clubs.

She said:

“I’ve always admired Thunder and the tradition they’ve always had in the Superleague.

“I had a really enjoyable season at Sirens but I wanted a new challenge.

“Thunder have always done really well in terms of their coaching staff, with so many players moving away in the past few seasons and I admire how well they have done when they have lost players.

“I really wanted to experience that and (head coach) Karen Greig is a big reason for me joining.”

O’Hanlon hopes to play for her country in next spring’s Gold Coast Commonwealth Games and believes Thunder is the ideal place to prepare for the competition.

She added. “It’s an established team and possibly one that is even underestimated in the league and they have really strong players throughout.

“Thunder have a settled and balanced team and that was enticing for me.”

The Northern Irish star, who has 70 caps for her country, hopes to bring energy and physicality to Thunder’s centre court.

She also hopes to combine her style with her Superleague and international level experience.

Playing in Manchester in front of the Thunder fans was also a deal-breaker for O’Hanlon, who describes the atmosphere at the Thunderdome as ‘brilliant’.

“Whenever I have played in Manchester the fans have always been really good and really loud so I’m looking forward to experiencing that more,” she said.

“It’ll also be good to be in Manchester as it’s a lively city and has some really good links with Ireland.”

Looking ahead to the 2018 season, O’Hanlon is expecting plenty of excitement, with lots of movement of players in the off-season.

She added: “It’ll be interesting with all the player changes and a lot of the English players have come back.

“I think it’s going to be an open season like the one we’ve just had – with lots of predictions last season going out the window.

“I really hope Thunder can make the play-offs and that I can play a big part in that.”

Interview by Denise Evans