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.
Aisling Keller secured a berth for Ireland at next year’s Olympic Games in Tokyo with her 46th place finish at the Laser Radial World Championships in Japan.Keller took seventh of the ten nation qualification places available at the World Championships for Tokyo.
Competing in the Laser Radial, Keller has taken a year out from her studies at Trinity College and has been sailing full time, showing her promise on the world stage.
Whilst the boat has been qualified for Tokyo, there will be an open trial where a number of international regattas will be benchmarked to determine which sailor gets the nomination to represent Ireland at the Olympics next summer. Keller is one of the candidates with her name in the hat.
Amy Broadhurst is one of Ireland’s most elite boxers. Broadhurst broke the Irish female boxing record when she claimed her 17th Irish boxing title at the National Elite Championships.
On the international stage, Broadhurst, nicknamed ‘Baby Canelo’, won her fifth European gold medal defeating Italy’s Rebecca Nicoli on St. Patrick’s Day. Broadhurst won four fights at the tournament en route to the top of the podium.
At the European Women’s Elite Championships, the southpaw came home with a bronze medal in the lightweight division. The Dundalk fighter defeated the Rio 2016 bronze medallist Anastasiia Beliakova to guarantee the bronze medal.
Kate Derwin became the newly crowned Junior European Showjumping Championships champion. In doing so, Derwin was only the fourth Irish rider in the 60-year history of the Championships to claim gold.
Derwin made it into the individual final along with 26 other riders from all over Europe and completed a flawless performance to claim the victory. Derwin was also part of the bronze medal-winning Irish Junior show jumping team.
The Athlone rider, adds to her medal collection which includes a team gold and individual silver at the European U16 Pony Championships in 2017 and the GAIN Irish team U18 Bronze medal won back in 2018.
The decision to take a year out of school to base herself with Carol Gee at Fernhill Sport Horses proved vindicated following her brilliant achievements in 2019. Derwin has ambitions to go professional and make a name for herself in the sport.
Kate O’Connor wrote her name into the history books last summer. No Irish athlete had ever before won a heptathlon medal at a major championships.
In July, at the European U20 Athletics Championships in Sweden, everything changed. O’Connor engraved her name into the history books, claiming silver in emphatic style.
The former St. Vincent’s Secondary School student scored an overall of 6,093 points. This was a new Irish Senior record and made her the first ever Irish athlete to surpass the illustrious 6,000-point barrier.
The European U20 silver medallist had a tournament to remember as she broke the Irish javelin record as well as securing a PB in the high-jump. Her performances were of such high-quality that she would have made it to the final of both the high-jump and javelin in the single events following her performances.
Katie O’Brien claimed her first World Championship medal in Linz, Austria. Racing in the PR2 single scull event, O’Brien claimed bronze having just returned to rowing in recent times. Para rowing is growing in Ireland with Katie O’Brien at the helm, inspiring generations to come. Recently awarded at the Galway Sports Awards, she is a great role model for young women in sport.
O’Brien has new drive and determination as the possibilities of para rowing continues to evolve. Although her event is not included in the Paralympics in Tokyo, she looks towards competing at World Championships and standing on the podium again. The Olympics in Paris 2024 is a possibility for O’Brien.
Katie O’Brien is currently studying veterinary in UCD, while training between Dublin and Galway.
Lara Gillespie had an unforgettable 2019 as she collected four major international junior medals on the track.
Gillespie won three silver medals over the course of a week at the European Junior Track Championships in Belgium. Gillespie’s time in the Individual Pursuit of 2:21.579 was a personal best and a new national record.
Just a month after completing her Leaving Cert, the young Wicklow racer then made history as she won bronze in the Individual Pursuit at the UCI Junior Track World Championships in Germany. She became the first Irish person, both male or female, to step on a podium at the Junior Track World Championships.
Meg Ryan delivered Ireland’s first ever World Cup podium finish at the World Challenge Cup in Turkey. Ryan won silver on the Women’s Artistic apparatus final – the uneven bars.
Ryan came through the Irish High Performance pathway and has dominated nationally for where she has been a national all-round champion for consecutive years.
The Douglas gymnast also got her first taste of elite senior level competition as she represented Ireland at the World Gymnastics Championships in Stuttgart.
Mona McSharry is a talented swimmer who is making her mark in Irish swimming. McSharry currently holds seven individual senior Irish records, of which the breaststroke records were previously held by Rio Olympian, Fiona Doyle.
The Irish Summer Nationals saw McSharry pick up 5 medals; three gold and two silver. McSharry picked up gold in the 50m and 100m breastroke. A fantastic 26.62 also saw her pick up the gold in the 50m butterfly. An all-rounder, she also claimed silver in the 50m and 100m freestyle.
At the European Short Course Championships, McSharry took home bronze in the 50m breaststroke, swimming 29.87, a new Irish record. Competing in the 100m, she broke the Irish record in the heats, swimming a time of 1:04.36. To top it off, she picked up the 4x50m medley relay record.
In flying form, at Irish Short Course Nationals, McSharry picked up gold in the 100m breaststroke, silver in the 50m freestyle and went on to break both the 4x100m and 4x200m Irish records.
Nicole Turner is on her way to the Paralympic Games in Tokyo later this year. The young swimmer is fulfilling her potential after several years of hard work and dedication. Turner heads into Tokyo as the 3rd fastest ranked S6 50m Butterfly swimmer, hot on the heels of her two biggest rivals.
In 2019, Turner won a bronze medal at the World Para Swimming Championships in the 50m butterfly. She describes this as her biggest sporting achievement to date. Turner came back from behind in fifth place to secure her medal. She also swam in the 100m breaststroke, finishing seventh overall.
Turner represented Ireland at the Rio Olympics aged 14, where she raced in five events and made it to five finals.This time around, Turner is taking a step back from her schooling for a year, with all focus on Tokyo and doing her utmost to achieve her Paralympic dreams.
Rhasidat Adeleke has been making waves in Irish athletics for what seems to be an age. The gifted sprinter has put Ireland on the map globally, proving herself to be one of the rising stars in athletics. Last summer Adeleke won an unprecedented sprint double at the European Youth Olympics in Baku, to bring the total number of individual championship medals she has won over the past three summers to an astonishing six.
Adeleke broke onto the scene in 2017 at just 14 years-old, where she won the junior sprint double at the Irish National Schools Championships. A few months later, she won silver in the 200m at the European Youth Olympic Festival.
The Tallaght AC sprinter is one to watch over the coming years as she first aims for U20 World Juniors in July 2020 and then World Championships, Diamond Leagues and eventually the Olympics.