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Her Sport Woman Of The Year 2019: Meet The Contenders

2019 proved to be a remarkable year for Irish women in sport. Irish sportswomen provided some of the most thrilling and memorable moments, in what was arguably one of our greatest sporting years of all time.
As women’s sport continues to develop and shine, Ireland’s talented athletes have proven that with hard graft and dedication, they are capable of battling with the best and reaching the pinnacle of their sport.
In what is a sign of the times, out of the overall haul of 80 medals won by Ireland’s high performance athletes on the World, European and Paralympics stage, 45 of those were achieved by female athletes.
We have compiled a rundown of the TEN contenders, in alphabetical order, who have been shortlisted for the 2019 Her Sport Woman Of The Year.
To cast your vote click here.


Ciara Mageean

Ciara Mageean is an Irish Olympic middle-distance runner who is amongst the finest 1500m runners in the world. Mageean is a massive role-model for the younger generation as she has overcome numerous obstacles to get to where she is today.

Mageean had a year to remember, producing a series of excellent runs. The Portaferry runner set two new Irish indoor records in the mile and the 1500m. Mageean followed this up with bronze in the 1500m European Indoors, in what has been a stellar season.

At the World Athletics Championships in Doha, the 27-year old produced the run of her life to finish in 10th place. She set a new personal best with 4:00.15, just a lick away from the magical four-minute barrier. 

In qualifying for the final, the indoor bronze medallist became the first Irish woman to reach a World 1500m final since Sonia O’Sullivan in Athens back in 1997.

To crown off her year, Ciara Mageean was also part of the senior women’s team who earned a silver medal at the at the European Cross Country Championships in Lisbon.

Ciara Mageean Doha World Championships
Ciara Mageean became only the second Irish woman to make a world 1500m final.


Ellen Keane

Keane is one of Ireland’s most inspirational and talented athletes, who continues to promote and advocate a healthy lifestyle, positive body image and equality for all.

The Dubliner was Ireland’s youngest ever athlete when she swam in the 2008 Beijing Paralympic Games and brought home an Olympic bronze medal at the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games.

In 2019, the European Swimming champion, took home bronze at the World Para Swimming Championships in London.

Keane produced a season’s best of 1:22:42 in the 100m breaststroke SB8 to claim a brilliant bronze.

Ellen Keane
Ellen Keane - European Gold Medallist (Photo: INPHO/Ryan Byrne)


Fionnuala McCormack

Fionnuala McCormack is a long-distance runner, who eats, drinks and sleeps athletics. Her longevity in the sport is a testament to her commitment as well as her pride in representing her country.

After taking some time out, McCormack made her return at the Boston Marathon. This was her first since the marathon event in the 2016 Olympics in Rio. McCormack put on a glittering performance, running a new personal best time of 2:30:38, almost a minute quicker than her previous time of 2:31:22.

At the Chicago Marathon, the Wicklow woman finished fifth. She crossed the line in 2:26:47 to cut almost four minutes off her PB. With this, she secured automatic qualification for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and her phenomenal run moved her to number two on the Irish all-time list. This is set to McCormack’s fourth Olympic appearance, a feat only achieved by two other Irish sportswomen, Sonia O’Sullivan and Olive Loughnane.

McCormack’s brilliant season was capped off by a memorable European Cross Country Championships where she came home in fourth and helped her team to a silver medal. This was a record 16th appearance in the event, one more than any other woman, and a record 38th senior appearance for Ireland.

Fionnuala_McCormack_Chicago_Marathon
McCormacks time moved her up past both Sonia O’Sullivan (2:29:01, London Marathon – 2005) and Carey May (2:28:07, Osaka International Ladies Marathon – 1985) to make her time the second fastest ever run by an Irishwoman. (Photo: Paul Beatty)


Jenny Egan

Jenny Egan is an Irish canoe sprint athlete who has dedicated her life to her craft and is amongst the best in the world.

Egan had a superb summer as she fought hard for both a silver medal at the Canoe Sprint World Cup in Poznan and a week later, landed a bronze in the K1 5000m sprint in Germany.

In 2018, the canoeist, who is a member of Salmon Leap Canoe Club, made history as she became Ireland’s first ever medallist, male or female, at the canoe sprint World Championships.

Jenny Egan has been devoted to her sport since the age of eight. Her commitment and drive is unwavering as she trains two to three times a day, six days per week. This includes six gym sessions, three on the water canoe sessions, three running sessions and two swimming sessions.

Jenny_Egan_World_Cup_2_Germany
Egan became the first ever Irish person, male or female, to medal at the Canoe Sprint World Championships. (Photo: Jantex)


Katie Taylor

Katie Taylor is a former Olympic boxing gold medallist and the current undisputed champion of the lightweight division. Taylor also holds the WBO super lightweight title and is unquestionably one of the baddest women on the planet.

2019 will go down as one of the most memorable for Taylor as she fought three times, earning victory in each bout and creating history on the way.

At the start of the year, Taylor defeated Rose Volante in Philadelphia to become the three-belt World Champion. She became the first Irish boxer to hold three belts simultaneously.

Taylor then followed this up by defeating Delfine Persoon in Madison Square Garden and became the undisputed champion of the lightweight division. Taylor’s victory saw her become Ireland’s first undisputed champion of the modern era as she holds the WBC, WBA, IBG and WBO belts.

Finally, to close out the year Taylor moved up a weight division from lightweight to super lightweight and became only the third Irish boxer ever, to become a two-weight world champion.

Katie Taylor Kimberly Connor
Katie Taylor celebrates with both Championship belts following her WBA & IBF World Lightweight bout with Kimberly Connor at the 02 Arena in London.


Natalya Coyle

Natalya Coyle is a two-time Olympian having represented Ireland both at both London 2012 and Rio 2016. The Meath woman is a unique athlete who is devoted to her craft.

Coyle was the first woman to represent Ireland in the five events of the modern pentathlon and earned ninth and sixth-place finishes respectively.

This year the modern pentathlon star secured her second ever individual World Cup medal as she won silver at the UIPM Pentathlon World Cup in Egypt. In 2018, Coyle also won silver at the same event.

Natalya Coyle is set to make her third Olympics appearance in a row, as she finished 8th at the modern pentathlon European Championships in England which sealed automatic qualification.

Natalya_Coyle_Olympic_Qualification
Coyle has now qualified for the last three Olympics in a row.


Niamh Kilkenny

Niamh Kilkenny is a camogie player who has been a central figure for Galway over a number of years. Kilkenny encapsulates everything great about the game, work-rate, heart, tenacity and skill.

In front of a record crowd, the Pearse club member put on a player-of-the-match display, scoring four points from play, as they beat favourites Kilkenny to win the All-Ireland final.

Kilkenny was magnificent from midfield and proved to be a valuable weapon. The midfielder also bagged the player-of-the-match award in the semi-final.

Her midfield masterclass was inspiring and timely, proving persistence is key as she had previously lost out in All-Ireland finals back in 2008, 2010, 2011 and 2015.

Niamh_Kilkenny_Galway_Camogie
Niamh Kilkenny won the player-of-the-match for Galway in both the semi and final on the way to the All-Ireland title.


Roisin Upton

Roisin Upton is an Ireland women’s hockey international who has helped the Green Army reach unprecedented heights over the past few years.

The Limerick native was part of the Irish side that won the hearts of the nation in 2018, as Ireland took home silver at the Hockey World Cup.

Upton has become a driving force at the heart of either the defence or midfield and was part of history as the Green Army qualified for the Olympics for the first time ever.

The two-time NCAA winner tucked home the winning score in a dramatic sudden-death shootout against Canada. Upton fought through the pain barrier, playing on with a broken wrist to help Ireland make history in Donnybrook.

Roisin_Upton_Hockey_Ireland
Roisin Upton has been an integral part of the recent success for the Green Army.


Sanita Puspure

Sanita Puspure is a two-time Olympian, two-time World Champion and a European Champion. Puspure became Ireland’s first ever female rowing World Champion when she won the gold medal at the 2018 Rowing World Championships in Bulgaria.

At 38-years old, Puspure is an enormous inspiration for women in sport. Her unparalleled self-discipline, mental strength and a relentless hard work has seen her rise to the very top of her sport.

Puspure won her first ever European Rowing Championship gold medal in June 2019, blowing away the field and capturing victory by well over a length.

The single-scull rower then followed this up by defending her World Rowing Championship title after again dominating the field and storming to victory in Austria. The two-time Olympian shattered the field and simultaneously secured her ticket for Tokyo 2020.

Sanita Puspure World Championships 2018
Ireland's Sanita Puspure celebrates gold at the World Rowing Championships. (Photo: Detlev Seyb/INPHO)


Shannon McCurley

Shannon McCurley is track cyclist who created history when she became the first Irish female track cyclist to compete at an Olympic games. McCurley represented Ireland at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

McCurley is no stranger to graft and has been a trailblazer for Irish cycling. Her resilience and grit are unmatched and is starting to reap the rewards from her new self-belief.

In 2019, McCurley claimed her first senior medal as she claimed a silver medal in the scratch race at the European Track Cycling Championships in the Netherlands.

McCurley, who was born in Melbourne to Irish parents, won bronze in the scratch race at the European U23 Championships in 2011.

Shannon_McCurley_Track_Silver_Medal
Shannon McCurley was Ireland’s sole track Olympian at the Rio 2016 Games.

HerSport Editor

Her Sport is a media platform centred on bringing the latest Irish and international women’s sports news. Her Sport aims to empower women in sport, inspire more female participation, increase opportunity and level the playing field for future generations. Our objective is to create real and tangible change.

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