Friday 23 August 2019

The 25 Irish sportswomen who are making waves nationally and internationally

Gina Akpe-Moses at the 2018 European Athletics Championships in Berlin, Germany. Photo by Sam Barnes/Sportsfile
Gina Akpe-Moses at the 2018 European Athletics Championships in Berlin, Germany. Photo by Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

There are Irish sportswomen making a big impact all over the world. Here are 25 who are making serious waves.

1 Sonia O'Sullivan herself hotly tips Blackrock schoolgirl Sarah Healy as the one to watch. The Irish middle-distance runner won gold for the 1500m and 3000m at the 2018 European Athletics U18 Championships in Hungary. She also won the Irish senior 3000m title, all while in fifth year at Holy Child Killiney. She's also nifty with a hockey stick.

2 West Ham United hailed her as Ireland's 'brightest prospect' after they fought off a host of top European clubs to sign Cavan striker Leanne Kiernan, the teen prodigy who grew up on a pig farm in Cavan and lined out at Wembley a few weeks after her 20th birthday earlier this month for the Women's FA Cup Final against Man City.

3 Modern pentathlete Natalya Coyle looks to be a fierce threat for Tokyo 2020 when she hopes to be third-time lucky, after a flying start to the season when she took her second silver medal in the Pentathlon World Cup in Egypt in March.

4 Five years ago Mayo sailor Joan Mulloy jacked in her civil engineering job and took to the high seas and in 2020 she hopes to become the first Irish woman to sail single-handedly, non-stop around the globe in 90 days in the Vendee Globe Race.

5 Sarah Rowe has been making waves down under in Aussie rules football with the Collingwood Football Club in the AFL, who named her the club's Best First Year player. But her heart remains in Mayo, and she comes home to play for her county during the Aussie football off-season.

24 March 2019; Sarah Rowe of Mayo during the Lidl Ladies NFL Round 6 match between Mayo and Cork at Elverys MacHale Park in Castlebar, Mayo. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

6 It was an heroic All-Ireland Camogie Junior Final day for Dublin captain and Lucan Sarsfield's Emer Keenan who came out onto the field with just seconds to go to score the final point against Kerry, despite struggling with a painful knee ligament injury.

7 As one of Ireland's biggest sporting stars, there are few people in the country who don't know who Katie Taylor is, but no list of sporting women would be complete without arguably the greatest female boxer in world history. On June 1, Katie will box to become undisputed lightweight champion of the world. Right now she's got the WBA, IBF and WBO belts - the first Irish fighter to hold three world title belts - and if she beats WBC champion Delfine Persoon, she'll be wearing them all.

8 Olympic medalist Annalise Murphy shocked the sports world with news she isn't going for gold in the laser radial in Tokyo 2020, but was moving skiffs, entering the 49er FX competition instead, with partner Katie Tingle. They came 32nd in the 49-boat World Cup Series in Genoa recently - rapid progress considering it was their first ever competition in this boat.

9 Tipperary jockey Rachael Blackmore has been on an incredible run since turning pro four years ago. She rode back-to-back winners at the Cheltenham Festival this year and although on track to be crowned this season's Irish champion jump jockey, she was just pipped at the post by Paul Townend.

10 Sprinter Gina Akpe-Moses was the first Irish sprinter to win gold in the European U20s, following it up with the World Junior Championships last year when she made the final. She was also one of the history-making relay team, along with Molly Scott, Patience Jumbo-Gula and Ciara Neville who won silver at the U20 World Championships last year.

Gina Akpe-Moses at the 2018 European Athletics Championships in Berlin, Germany. Photo by Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

11 Dubs' captain and St Sylvester's star Sinéad Aherne led her team to their second in a row All Ireland Senior triumph at Croker last year, scoring 1-7 in a match that attracted a record crowd of 50,141. Her remarkable season saw her being crowned the 2018 TG4 Senior Players' Player of the Year 2018.

12 It's all eyes on Tokyo 2020 for Ennniskerry boxer Daina Moorhouse - taking place two months after her Leaving Cert. The six-time Irish champion has two European Youth Championship golds in her cabinet and is now going great guns in the U18s.

13 Soccer legend and former Ireland goalkeeper Emma Byrne made history this year when she became the first woman to be inducted into the FAI's Hall of Fame. The Leixlip star holds nine Premier League titles, nine FA Cup titles and a Champions League win. She holds the goalkeeper record at 134 senior caps for her country.

14 Cabra rower Claire Lambe was in one end of the boat with Sinéad Jennings for the lightweight women's double scull at the Rio Olympics. They reached the finals at the women's lightweight double sculls, but did not win a medal.

15 After more than a year and a half on the sidelines, Irish international and Man City star Megan Campbell is back at peak performance after a 15-month absence with a knee injury. The Drogheda native previously played for St Francis and Raheny United.

25 August 2018; Sinéad Goldrick of Dublin during the TG4 All-Ireland Ladies Football Senior Championship Semi-Final match between Dublin and Galway at Dr Hyde Park in Roscommon. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

16 Dublin's Sinéad Goldrick - who plays for Foxrock-Cabinteely - is arguably the best football defender in the country, with a string of six All-Star awards for her bold play.

17 Donegal's Mona McSharry exploded onto the world's swimming stage when she won two gold and a silver for Ireland in the 2017 European Junior Championships, when she was just 16. A month later she won gold in the World Junior Championships in the 100m breast-stroke, and broke the national senior record. Last year at the Irish Short-Course Championships, she broke Michelle Smith's 23-year-old 100m freestyle record, along with five other records and took home six titles.

18 Sarah Torrans is one to watch on the hockey circuit. She was still a uni student and the youngest member of the Irish hockey squad when they made history and took home silver at the World Cup final in London last year.

19 2015 was the breakout year for rugby player Katie Heffernan when she got her first cap with Ireland's Sevens at U18 and by last year the Mullingar girl had earned a place in our Six Nations side.

20 Rhasidat Adeleke was just 15 when she stormed home to gold for Ireland in the 200m at last year's European Athletics under-18s Championships - the same year she was part of the golden girls who won the 4x100m relay at the IAAF World U20 Championships.

cora staunton.jpg
Mayo's Cora Staunton. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

21 Mayo footballer Cora Staunton was the first female GAA star to write an autobiography and she also had a documentary made about her journey from Mayo to professional Aussie rules, by Emmy nominated film-maker, Shauna Keogh.

22 Paralympic swimmer Ellen Keane - who won bronze in Rio and three bronze World Championship medals - was the youngest ever Irish Olympian when she represented us in Beijing in 2008, aged just 13. The Dubliner, who was born with an underdeveloped lower left arm, is branching out into a media career to inspire children with disabilities, and stars in an Allianz Ireland ad about a young woman who is scared to swim because of her disability.

23 Last week Ireland captain Ciara Griffin bagged the Women's Player of the Year 2019 - voted on by her teammates after an incredible season - at the Irish Rugby Players' Awards. The Munster and UL Bohemian flanker made her international debut in 2016 and has some head for hard work - she's also a primary school teacher and an eager hand on her father's farm back home in Ballymac in Kerry.

24 From humble beginnings as the only female member of Ireland's only pro-wrestling gym in Bray, Becky 'The Man' Lynch is now one of the top female pro-wrestlers in the world. Last month Becky (32) made history when she won the first ever all-female event headlining WrestleMania in New York.

25 Easkey Britton, Ireland's most famous five-time national female surfer champ, was the first female surfer to ride the 'big wave' Aill na Searrach off the Cliffs of Moher, and in 2013 became the first woman to surf in Iran's waters in a full hijab. A documentary was made about her pioneering Iranian adventure and she also staged a Tedx talk in 2013.

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