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.
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Peamount United secured their second ever Women’s National League title holding off a dramatic late charge from Shelbourne. The Newcastle club were crowned champions after a convincing 8-2 win against Cork on the final day of the season.
This was the South Dublin club’s first title since the inaugural Women's National League back in 2011/2012. They will now represent Ireland in the UEFA Women’s Champions League next season.
Peamount United, captained by Aine O’Gorman, clinched an impressive 56 points from 63 on offer. They went on to win 18 games and were defeated just the once, drawing two games. Peamount were solid defensively throughout the season having conceded 12 goals and scoring 93 in the process.
The Galway Camogie Team
The Galway Camogie Team secured their first All-Ireland title since 2013 after defeating Kilkenny 3-14 to 17 points. This is only the third time ever that the O'Duffy Cup will reside in the Tribal County after wins in 1996 and 2013.
The Tribeswomen defeated both Cork in the semi-final and Kilkenny in the final on their way to victory. Cork and Kilkenny have dominated since 2014, amplifying Galway’s mighty achievement.
To add to their All-Ireland title, Galway also secured more silverware earlier in the year, winning their first national title since 2015. Galway beat Kilkenny 0-16 to 2-8 points in the Littlewoods Ireland Camogie League Division One Final.
Eve McCrystal & Katie George Dunlevy
Eve McCrystal & Katie George Dunlevy cemented their status as the worlds best tandem pair as they collected their third UCI Paracycling World Championship medal on the bounce. The pair won the time-trial over the 31.2km course in the Netherlands.
The dynamic duo followed this up with two stunning displays at the Paracycling World Cup in Belgium where they bagged two gold medals. Dunlevy and McCrystal came out on top in the time-trial and the road race which retained the gold they have won two years on the spin.
Eve McCrystal has been piloting for Katie-George Dunlevy since 2013 and the pair have become world-class together. They are 2016 Paralympic gold medallists and will look to match this feat in Tokyo 2020.
The Irish Hockey Team
The Irish Hockey Team booked their tickets to Tokyo following the epic two-legged Olympic qualifier against Canada held in the Energia Stadium, Donnybrook. In a tight affair and battling challenging conditions, Ireland once again proved to be the shoot-out queens as they overturned a 3-1 deficit to book their place at the Olympic Games for the first time in history.
Superstar goalkeeper Ayeisha McFerran added to her place in hockey folklore with three vital saves when all looked lost, while Roisin Upton scored the winning penalty to send Ireland through.
This team is no stranger to upsetting the odds and creating history. The Green Army became the first ever Irish team to reach a World Cup final when they upset the odds as the second-lowest ranked country in the tournament and took home silver back in 2018.
The Irish U23 Rowing Team
The Irish U23 Rowing Team of Claire Feerick, Eimear Lambe, Tara Hanlon and Emily Hegarty put on a gutsy performance at the U23 World Championships, making their way to the final to fight for a medal. The newly formed crew brought home silver to Ireland and gained great confidence as they approached the Senior World Championships.
The team boasts great talent and strength, as they claimed four of the top five spots at the Irish Indoors in January. Women’s rowing in Ireland has a young team, with incredible potential.
Lambe, Hegarty and Hanlon competed in the coxless four at the World Championships, where they narrowly missed out on qualifying for the Tokyo Olympics. Hopes are high for this boat qualifying in May 2020. Feerick competed in the spare pair event, winning her race convincingly. Watch out for these athletes as they continue to develop and make their mark in Irish rowing.
The Irish Senior Cross Country Team
The Irish Senior Cross Country Team (McCormack, Richardson, Mageean, Mulhare, Britton, Ross) capped off one of the most successful European Cross Country Championships for Ireland after securing silver in the team event.
Two-time champion Fionnuala McCormack was desperately unlucky to miss out on a podium finish after finishing fourth. McCormack was edged out of the medal positions by Sweden’s Samrawit Mengsteab in the final kilometre.
McCormack’s incredible performance led her team to claim the team silver medal. Her Irish teammates Aoibhe Richardson had the race of her life to finish 17th and Ciara Mageean rounding out the Irish scoring placing 20th, describing it as the “hardest race of her life”. Ireland finished with an overall of 41 points and bagged silver. This was the first team medal for Ireland since 2012 and the team have said they will be striving for gold when the championships are held in Dublin later this year.
The Ireland Ultimate Frisbee Team
The Ireland Ultimate Frisbee Team won the 2019 European Ultimate Frisbee Championships in Hungary. Ireland were ranked 11th going into the tournament and demonstrated skill, patience and athleticism to defy all odds and leave victorious.
Ireland defeated Switzerland, who seeded second, 15-8 in the final. Sarah Melvin scored three goals and had four assists in the final which was emphatically won. Melvin went on to be named the Ultimate Frisbee European Player of the Year.
The triumph sees Ireland claim gold in an ultimate frisbee international tournament for the first time in history. The closest Irish national teams have come to gold in the past was silver wins by the Irish Mixed Team 2013 and 2015.
The Irish U20 Basketball Team
The Irish U20 Basketball Team continued to pencil their name in basketball history after securing FIBA U20 Women’s European Championships Division A basketball. Ireland beat Great Britain 60-57 to claim the bronze medal and promotion.
The majority of the squad are no strangers to re-writing the record books after winning the FIBA U18 Women's European Championships Division B silver medal. This saw Ireland promoted to Division A basketball for the first time in the country’s history.
The continued underage success of this group of players is extremely exciting and the potential to make a big impact at senior level is a real possibility. This is a very tight-knit group and if they manage to continue to stay together and work hard the sky's the limit.
The Dublin Ladies Gaelic Football Team
The Dublin Ladies Gaelic Football Team held up the Brendan Martin Cup again in 2019, making it three in a row for the Sky Blues. Dublin’s historic triumph puts them in illustrious company with Cork and Kerry, as the only teams to ever achieve this feat. The Dublin team have made it to the last six finals in the championship, with their dominance coming to the fore in recent years.
This Dublin side has continued to make history and grow the female game as their victory came in front of a record crowd of 56,114 in Croke Park.
Following their success, the All-Ireland Senior champions led the way with seven representatives on the 2019 TG4 Ladies Football All Star team. This matched their best ever haul of seven players which they achieved last year.
The Irish Dressage Team
The Irish Dressage Team (Merveldt, Reynolds, Holstein, Dwyer) made history by qualifying for the Olympic Games. For the first time ever, Ireland will be represented by a Dressage team at the Olympics after the Irish team of Anna Merveldt, Judy Reynolds, Heike Holstein and Kate Dwyer qualified for Tokyo 2020.
With just three qualification spots available, Ireland finished on a final score of 213.540 at the Longines FEI European Championships. As a result Ireland finished second out of the eight teams who had been chasing one of the three tickets to Tokyo.
Kate Dwyer first in for the Irish team scored 66.180%. The second Irish rider, Heike Holstein scored 69.472%.Ireland’s third rider, Anna Merveldt, scored 67.717% while Judy Reynolds secured qualification with a breathtaking performance which scored 76.351%.