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Thursday 26 April 2018

Sevens heaven for Girls in Green but Derval hit by grant cuts

Captain Fiona Coghlan lifts the trophy surrounded by her team
Captain Fiona Coghlan lifts the trophy surrounded by her team
Ireland flanker Siobhan Fleming
Cliona Foley

Cliona Foley

IRELAND'S rugby heroines, still basking in the glory of their Grand Slam success, received a massive financial boost with a €275,000 grant to help them try to make Olympic history.

But hurdler Derval O'Rourke saw a huge €28,000 cut to her funding under the revised system for individual sports grants.

The Irish Sports Council has handed the IRFU a special €275,000 grant this year, earmarked specifically for their women's Olympic Sevens programme.

Rio de Janeiro 2016 is the first time that rugby, in the form of Sevens, will be included on the Olympic programme for both men and women.

A Sports Council spokesman said that the Girls in Green's historic Six Nations unbeaten run was actually not a factor in granting them this massive financial boost.

"This was based on the women's Sevens submission that the IRFU made to us last autumn," said Finbarr Kirwan of the Sports Council.

"They had already invested considerably in their women's Sevens programme and we were extremely impressed with the work they had already done and how comprehensive their proposal was," he said.

Seven of last week's Grand Slam winners, including Lynne Cantwell and Alison Miller, are also on the Irish Sevens team which has since departed to China and Hong Kong to compete in international tournaments over the next two weekends.

That squad will also include Claire Molloy, who will travel later this week after completing medical exams.

The Irish Sports Council, which announced grants of €33m for 2013 yesterday, always includes special incentives for women in sport programmes.

This amounted to €574,000 yesterday, with €120,000 for women's basketball, €66,000 going to gymnastics, €57,000 for volleyball and €47,000 going to swimming.

Yet one of the women who has repeatedly brought international sporting glory to Ireland in the last decade, Cork sprint hurdler Derval O'Rourke, was one of the athletes most affected by the latest cutbacks to the individual grants system yesterday.

The 2006 world indoor champion and two-time European silver medallist suffered almost a 75pc cut in her elite grant – from €40,000 to €12,000. This is despite the fact that she was only edged out for a medal at the recent European Indoors by one-hundredth of a second.

Katie Taylor was among just 18 athletes who will get the maximum grant available at €40,000 this year.

Athletes are now strictly funded on the basis of their performances in the previous year only.

Irish Independent

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