BRÍD STACKS UP HER MEDALS AND RETIRES
As the new year and the new football season rolled around with it, a true legend of Gaelic Games called time on her stellar career. Bríd Stack won 11 All Ireland medals, and played every minute of each of the finals to claim ‘em. A player who epitomises all that is great about football; an absolute legend, on the pitch and off it.
JUMP GIRLS HITS THE SCREEN
Sports documentaries that focus on women are rare… and #JumpGirls proved a superb watch. Fascinating insights into the work of the women at the forefront of Irish racing – from Jessica Harrington, to Katie Walsh, to Rachel Blackmore, and beyond.
AISHLING MOLONEY’S WONDER-GOAL
2019 brought new advances of streaming of women’s Gaelic Games, bringing more eyes than ever on the National Leagues – and meaning THIS Aishling Moloney special as Tipperary defeated Cork was seen by the masses…
NATALYA COYLE STRIKES SILVER
Natalya Coyle made history in 2018 by becoming Ireland’s first ever individual World Cup medalist in her sport – and followed it up in March by striking silver yet again at the season-opening UIPM Pentathlon World Cup in Cairo.
CIARA MAGEEAN MARCHES ONTO THE PODIUM
Ciara Mageean reached the podium at the European Indoor Athletic Championships in Glasgow, winning bronze in the 1500M final. A first indoor major medal, to match the one she claimed outdoors at the 2016 European Championships.
SLAUGHTNEIL MAKE IT 3-IN-A-ROW
“That’s what’s so special about the Club Championship – a lot of the time, it’s not clubs from the county powerhouses.” Slaughtneil sharpshooter Tina Hannon after completing a historic three-in-row in Croke Park – the first time a club from a county setup not operating at Senior level has done so.
WOMEN’S SPORTS POLICY LAUNCHES INTO ACTION
A landmark day as Sport Ireland’s new #WomenInSport Policy took flight, to target the areas of Coaching & Officiating, Active Participation, Leadership, and Governance, with Lynne Cantwell as Chair of the new Women in Sport Steering Committee.
SIX NATIONS HITS THE RIGHT NOTE WITH NEW RECORDS
A new record crowd for an Irish women’s rugby match was set by 6,047 people in Donnybrook for Ireland’s Six Nations clash with France. That was 1,410 more people in attendance than at the previous game of the campaign against England a few weeks beforehand.
BLACKMORE’S CHELTENHAM BREAKTHROUGH
Rachel Blackmore made her way into the history books at this year’s Cheltenham Festival, riding a 50/1 outsider to Grade One glory – the first of the Tipperary woman’s career, on racing’s biggest stage. She subsequently became just the third woman to ride a double at the festival.
EMMA BYRNE TAKES HER PLACE IN THE HALL OF FAME
Emma Byrne made history in March as the first woman inducted into the the FAI Hall of Fame. From her debut in 1996 to retirement in 2017, the former captain played a record 134 caps; and won every trophy available during her time with Arsenal.
CONSIDINE’S CROWS SOAR TO THE TITLE
A dream end to a dream debut season, as Clare woman Ailish Considine and her Adelaide Crows team-mates staged a 45 point win over Carlton Blues in the AFLW Grand Final – even hitting a goal in front of the crowd of 53,034 in attendance.
IRISH STARS SHINE AS ARSENAL TAKE THE TITLE
Arsenal ended a 7-year wait to reclaim the FA WSL top tier title – with two of Ireland’s finest in the thick of it, Louise Quinn & Katie McCabe.
Reigning AIBA Lightweight World Champion Kellie Harrington has had a 2019 fraught with injury – but that hasn’t stopped her making an impact. Her appearance on The Tommy Tiernan Show showed yet again why she is one of Irish sport’s most special ambassadors…
KATIE MCCABE’S IRISH PRIDE
Visibility matters – and as part of Pride Month, Irish captain Katie McCabe flew the flag loud n’ proud, in the national football stadium lit up with rainbow colours… imagine being a sports-mad queer teenager and seeing this. Stunning.
KATIE TAYLOR, UNDISPUTED
Katie Taylor took on Delfine Persoon in Madison Square Garden with the title of undisputed Lightweight World Champion on the line… the spectacle, the tension, the outcome. At the core of it all, a woman who in the space of 2.5 years rebuilt herself from the lowest point to transform a sport, and reach its pinnacle.
RTÉ & TG4 brought the FIFA Women’s World Cup to Irish screens in its entirety for the first time ever – and with it, a whole new lever of analysis & discussion on women’s football. The big quarter-final of USA V France also produced another football first for Irish TV, with an all-female studio lineup calling the shots.
MICHELLE O’NEILL’S GRAND FINALE
It’s not often you can say an Irish person played a part in a FIFA World Cup Final – but Wexford official Michelle O’Neill did just that when she lined out as an Assistant Referee in Stade de Lyon as USA took on The Netherlands for the title.
O’CONNOR’S HEPTATHLON SILVER
The new wave of Irish athletics stars were out in force again this summer – and Kate O’Connor made history in July by claiming a silver medal in Heptathlon at the European Under-20 Athletics Championships in Sweden… the first time Ireland have medalled in the event at any level.
RHASIDAT ADELEKE STRIKES GOLD ON THE DOUBLE
MAKE IT A DOUBLE! Ireland’s Rhasidat Adeleke struck gold not once but TWICE on track at the European Youth Olympics Festival in Baku – a sprint double of the 100M & 200M titles.
Limerick emerged from Group 1 to reach an All Ireland Camogie Championship quarter-final for the first time in 14 years – lining out against Tipperary in Semple Stadium. Whilst the result didn’t go their way, the day will be remembered for the Goal of the Season courtesy of Niamh Mulcahy.
LARA GILLESPIE’S MEDAL COLLECTION
Lara Gillespie claimed a bronze medal in the Individual Pirsuit at the UCI Junior Track World Championships in Germany – Ireland’s first ever. Earlier in the season, the Wicklow teenager also took silver medals in the Individual Pursuit, Scratch Race & Points Race at the Junior European Championships.
GALWAY DETHRONE THE CHAMPIONS
The match of the season, without question… having lost out in the last 3 All Ireland semi-finals, Cathal Murray’s resurgent Galway side finally made the breakthrough to Croke Park, dethroning the reigning champions in an epic clash that went right down to the wire.
LGFA SEMI-FINAL ATTENDANCE
Build it, and they WILL come… a landmark moment in Irish sport as the LGFA got the keys to Croke Park for their All Ireland semi-finals, and over 10,000 people showed up to watch Galway V Mayo and Dublin V Cork – two cracking matches befitting of the special occasion.
AOIFE O’ROURKE STRIKES EUROPEAN GOLD
Mighty middleweight Aoife O’Rourke struck gold for Ireland at European Championships in Madrid with a comprehensive victory over Poland’s Elzebieta Wojcik. The Roscommon woman is only the second Irish female boxer to claim a continental crown, after Katie Taylor.
SANITA PUSPURE, CHAMPION OF THE WORLD
“I hope my sister is proud of me.” A tough season battling bereavement ended in triumph for Sanita Purpure, as she produced yet another dominant finish in the women’s single sculls final at the World Rowing Championships in Austria to strike gold and retain her title.
Galway’s mighty midfielder Niamh Kilkenny marched on Croke Park and produced one of THE great All Ireland final performances. In the air, on the run, creating goals, striking at the posts – a colossal performance that saw her win Player of the Match, and subsequently be crowned Player’s Player of the Year.
GOLDIE’S GOLDEN GOAL
The All Ireland Football Final was a low-scoring affair – but in the 22nd minute Sinead Goldrick popped up with a piece of individual magic to send Dublin on their way to 3-in-a-row… the run from deep in her own half; going up against THREE players in the air and coming out with ball-in-hand; still so much to do to hold off the last defender and find the net.
PEDALING TO THE PODIUM FOR 3-IN-A-ROW
September saw the dynamic duo of Katie-George Dunlevy & Eve McCrystal strike Time Trial GOLD at the UCI Paracycling World Championships in The Netherlands, for the third year running – the Irish tandem pair crossing the line at the end of the 31.2KM course in 41:2.51.
TURNER’S TURNAROUND FOR BRILLIANT BRONZE
Nicole Turner showed incredible resolve to secure a bronze medal in the S6 50M Butterfly final at the World Para Swimming Championships in London – powering through the closing 10 metres to move from 5th to 3rd and claim her place on the podium.
ELLEN KEANE ON THE WORLD PODIUM
Reigning European Champion Ellen Keane went into the World Para Swimming Championships in London with sights set firmly on the podium – and swam a season’s best in the SB8 100M breaststroke to claim a brilliant bronze.
CIARA MAGEEAN RUNS INTO THE WORLD TOP 10
Ciara Mageean blazed a trail on the track at the World Athletics Championships in Doha – the first Irish woman to reach a world final since 1997. A Top 10 finish and a new personal best in absolutely RED HOT field. A special night for Portaferry’s finest.
IRISH STAMP THEIR LPGA TOUR CARDS FOR 2020
A dramatic October Sunday of golf state-side played out in favour of the Irish as Stephanie Meadow retained her LPGA Tour Card for next season; and Leona Maguire secured hers for the first time.
IRELAND HIT THE EURO QUALIFIER CAMPAIGN TRAIL RUNNING
It was another landmark night for women’s sport in Ireland as Ireland took on Ukraine in a crucial EURO 2021 Qualifier in Tallaght Stadium… the team not only claimed 3 points, but also set a new attendance record with 5,328 people there to see the win.
DENISE O’SULLIVAN, MVP
For the second year running, North Carolina Courage voted Ireland’s Denise O’Sullivan as Most Valuable Player as they completed an NWSL Championship back-to-back triumph. The Cork woman was also named at #65 in The Guardian’s expansive ‘100 Best Footballers in the World’ list for 2019.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, 20×20…
October 15th marked a full year since 20×20 launched. To say that engagement with the campaign has surpassed expectation is an understatement… a lot done, more to do. Roll on 2020.
IRISH TV TRAILBLAZERS
The autumn sports schedule brought some big firsts to TV – Fiona Coghlan becoming the first woman to co-commentate on a men’s rugby match during the World Cup quarter-finals; and Lisa Fallon the first woman to appear as an analyst on both an Ireland international AND a UEFA Champions League match.
‘SHE CAN’ COLOURING BOOK
The42.ie executed one of the best ideas around the promotion of women’s sport with the publication of the SHE CAN! Colouring Book… genuinely excited about the number of sports-loving girls & boys who opened this up on Christmas Day and are getting stuck in!
PEAMOUNT TAKE THE TITLE
A special night on home soil as Peamount United claimed their second second Women’s National League title since winning the inaugural crown in 2011/12 – finishing with 56 points from 21 games, and qualifying to compete in the UEFA Women’s Champions League next season.
McCORMACK STORMS THROUGH THE WINDY CITY Fionnuala McCormack, who took on the Chicago Marathon in style, finishing in 5th place with a personal best time of 2:26:47, and securing Olympic Qualification for the 2020 Tokyo Games with it
KATIE TAYLOR, TWO-WEIGHT WORLD CHAMPION
Not content with being the undisputed champion at lightweight, in November Katie Taylor stepped up a class to take on Christina Linardatou for the WBO Super Lightweight belt, in a headline bout in Manchester… the Bray woman emerged triumphant, Ireland’s first ever female ever two-weight World Champion.
SHIRLEY McCAY HITS 300TH CAP
As the Irish hockey team embarked on a historic weekend of Olympic Qualifiers in a packed-out Donnybrook Stadium, Shirley McCay made a landmark 300th appearance for her country in front of the home crowd… a fitting setting for someone who has given SO much to their sport.
SINEAD DIVER TAKES A BITE OUTTA THE BIG APPLE
It was a performance to remember at the New York Marathon for Sinead Diver – the Belmullet native, who represents Australia, finishing the race in 5th place with a time of 2:26:23.
IRELAND FINALLY REACH THE PROMISED LAND
The rollercoaster route to Tokyo… a nation held its breath as the Irish hockey squad banished their demons and booked their place at the Olympic Games for the first time ever, in THE most most dramatic of shootout circumstances. A game-changing, record-breaking, history-making night.
NIAMH MCCARTHY’S WORLD MEDAL
Niamh McCarthy claimed a brilliant bronze medal in the F41 discus category at the World Para-Athletics Championships in Dubai – the Cork woman’s 3rd world medal, following up her bronze in Doha 2015 and silver in London 2017.
NIAMH MCEVOY, ALL STAR
Niamh McEvoy is one of those players that you just presume would have an All Star… but 2019 saw her claim her first, having been overlooked in the past. McEvoy’s scoring ability, power on the ball, pace off it, passing accuracy & precision in the air really make Dublin tick. A long overdue accolade for a pillar of consistency.
MOURNEABBY MAKE IT BACK-TO-BACK
Mourneabbey finally but the heartbreak behind them to reach the holy grail of an All Ireland title in 2018 – and backed it up in 2019 with a one-point win claimed in the closing 30 seconds. A fitting finish to a thriller of a match that had EVERYTHING.
RENA RISES AGAIN
“Sport is brilliant.” She’s not wrong… Rena Buckley chatting to Jerome Quinn off the back of winning the Junior All Ireland Club Championship title with Donoughmore – her 37th national title in Gaelic Games across county, club & college.
‘It’s fantastic for @LadiesFootball, it’s fantastic for women’s sport, sport is brilliant!’ – Player of the Match Rena Buckley sums up an epic All Ireland Junior Final win for Donoughmore over McHale Rover after extra-time.. pic.twitter.com/vm4pDCLxMl— Jerome Quinn (@JeromeQuinn) November 24, 2019
OLYMPIC CLEAN-UP COMPLETE
At a November EGM, the Olympic Council of Ireland officially became the Olympic Federation of Ireland. New name, new faces, new logo, new sponsors, new athlete-centered focus – the scale of the toxic brand overhaul headed up by Sarah Keane & Sarah O’Shea post-Rio is incredible.
KATIE & ELLA
Future boxing star in training Ella Thompson got the BEST Christmas surprise of all when her idol, Katie Taylor, surprised her live on the The Late Late Toy Show for a sparring session. A magic moment not just for Ella, but for everyone watching at home, too.
MONA MCSHARRY’S EUROPEAN BRONZE
A special evening in December as Mona McSharry hit the podium at the European Short Course Swimming Championships in Glasgow in December – the Sligo swimmer claiming a bronze medal in the 50M breaststroke, and setting a new Irish record on the way.
EURO CROSS-COUNTRY SILVER LININGS
It was a special day for Irish women at the 2019 European Cross Country Championships in Lisbon, with silver team medals for both the U-23 AND Senior women.
A fitting way to round off this list… the legendary Sonia O’Sullivan recently turned 50, and was inducted into the Hall of Fame of both Athletics Ireland & RTÉ Sport. A national heroine, with expansive athletic achievements, and a sporting legacy like no other.