Team Of The Year 2020: Meet The Contenders

Team Of The Year 2020: Meet The Contenders
HerSport Editor
HerSport Editor

University Of Limerick Camogie

University of Limerick became the 4th college and 7th team in the 105-year history of the UPMC Ashbourne Cup, to win the trophy five times in a row.

Under the guidance of manager Adrian O’Sullivan, UL defeated University College Cork once again in the final, 3-14 to 0-12 at the Waterford Institute of Technology Arena in Carriganore.

Captained by Beth Carton, who was named player-of-the-match for the second year running, UL continued to maintain their high standards and hunger as they wrote their names into the history books.


It wasn’t all plain sailing and University of Limerick had to exhibit fight and character in the semi-final as they clawed back an eight-point deficit at the interval to mount a comeback against hosts Waterford Institute of Technology and secure their place in the final.

U17 Irish Netball

In March, the Ireland Under 17 Netball team claimed gold at the U17 Challenge Cup. Victory sees Ireland move up to Division 1 where they will face the top teams in Netball.

This was the first time in history any Irish Under 17 Netball side secured first place in the competition.


The tournament which was held at the National Sports Centre in the Isle of Man, took place from 28th February to the 1st March.

Under the guidance of Head Coach Emma Wall, Ireland improved on their fourth place finish from last year and impressively dominated from start to finish.

The Under 17 outfit were captained by Seren Redmond and Lana Hayes.

Both players collected the U17 Challenge Cup on behalf of Netball Ireland.

Kaia Harte a superbly talented player and daughter of former Republic of Ireland soccer International, Ian Harte, was named as the player of the tournament.

Netball U17

Peamount United

Peamount United secured the first ever domestic double in their history as they won both the Women’s National League and FAI Cup.

The Pea’s who won the 2019 Women’s National League defended their title in a closely fought league against runners-up Shelbourne. Peamount United finished with 56 points winning 18, drawing 2 and losing one.

The Peas came out on top in the league title decider against Shelbourne with one game to go as they secured the title with a 3-1 win.

This was the South Dublin club’s second title since the inaugural Women’s National League back in 2011/2012.

In December, Peamount finally put the demons to rest as they got their hands on the FAI Cup after three years of trying.

The Peas comfortably beat Cork City 6-0 at Tallaght stadium which saw captain Aine O’Gorman lift the trophy for the second time in Peamount’s history and the first time since 2010.

Irish Rugby

The 2020 Six Nations will go down as one of the most unusual and unprecedented tournaments of it’s history. Having kicked-off in February, the competition was suspended due to COVID-19 and resumed back in October only to be cancelled before the final round.

Despite this, Ireland enjoyed a hugely successful tournament and a much improved record from last year’s competition. Ireland finished the tournament tied on points with France in second-place but were unable to fight for the runners-up spot due to the cancellation of the tournament.

Ireland ended the tournament with three wins and one loss. The Irish side were impressive in all of their victories against Scotland, Wales and Italy. A dominant forward pack set the platform up for the Irish backs to cause havoc against the opposition.

Ireland played three games at home in Donnybrook, winning 18-14 against Scotland, 31-12 against Wales and 21-7 against Italy.

Ireland’s only loss came against the Grand Slam champions England as they were defeated 27-0 however there were positives from the match as Ireland improved from their previous outing against England where they were defeated by over 50 points.

Adam Grigg’s side are hoping to qualify for the 2021 Rugby World Cup and the qualifiers for Ireland will hopefully take place sometime early in the New Year.

Eve McCrystal and Katie-George Dunlevy

Eve McCrystal & Katie George Dunlevy cemented their status as one of the worlds best tandem pair as they picked up silver at the UCI Para-Cycling Road World Championship medal on the bounce.

The pair not only picked up silver at the Para-Cycling Road World Championships, but they also rode 3:27.358, eclipsing their previous National Record by over three seconds.

It was Dunlevy and McCrystal’s best ever world track result to date and they following day the duo finished fifth in the Tandem Time Trial.

Last year, the dynamic duo won their third UCI Paracycling World Championship medal on the bounce. The pair won the time-trial over the 31.2km course in the Netherlands.

They then followed this up with two stunning displays at the Paracycling World Cup in Belgium where they bagged two gold medals.

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 2021.

Irish Soccer Team

The Irish soccer team came unstuck in their EURO 2021 group as they aimed to become the first Irish team in history to qualify for a major Championship.

Ireland were on course to do just that as they sat top of the group for the majority of the qualification period.

Ireland’s positive start to the campaign saw them lead the table with four wins from four. They came unstuck however when they drew away to Greece and the failure to get at least a point in Ukraine saw the team miss out.

Yet despite the disappointing end to the campaign, the Irish team bowed out with plenty to shout about and the optimism and hope is there for them to kick-on and establish themselves as a force to be reckoned with.

The Girls in Green defeated Greece at home before beating Montenegro 3-0 in emphatic style. Ireland have transitioned into a more possession based game and throughout the tournament exhibited plenty of promise for the future.

Under the captaincy of Katie McCabe and the coaching of Vera Pauw, Ireland have raised the profile of the women’s game both nationally and internationally with many marking Ireland as the team to watch going forward. Next up is the target of qualifying for the World Cup.

Ireland Rowing Team

2020 has been a brilliant year for Irish rowing as the Irish women lit up the stage at every opportunity.

Unsurprisingly they dominated their categories at the Irish National Indoors, then during the first lockdown Sanita Puspure and Aifric Keogh went on to set Half Marathon World Records in their respective age categories.

Once the boats hit the water in September, the Irish were impressive.

First up was the U23 European Championships which saw gold for Clíodhna Nolan and Lydia Heaphy in the lightweight pair, silver for Margaret Cremen and Aoife Casey in the lightweight double, bronze for Tara Hanlon and Emily Hegarty in the open double and fourth place for Claire Feerick in the open single scull.

The team then headed to the Senior European Championships for more medals!

The women’s four of Fiona Murtagh, Aileen Crowley, Eimear Lambe and Aifric Keogh claimed bronze in a nail biting race, as they finished less than a second behind the Italians. Sanita Puspure defended her European title and yet again, claimed another gold medal in the single scull.

Lydia Heaphy stepped up to the plate competing at the Senior Europeans in the lightweight single scull, while the U23 pair of Tara Hanlon and Emily Hegarty also raced.

Irish rowing is bursting with young talent, with high hopes for the future.

Dublin Gaelic Football Team

In their seventh All-Ireland Senior Final appearance, the Dublin Ladies Football Team secured their fourth G4 All-Ireland Senior Ladies Football Championship in a row.

In a heavyweight contest against Cork, Dublin overturned a 3 point deficit at half-time to beat the Rebels 1-10 to 1-5 and claim the Brendan Martin Cup.

On the road to the final, Dublin topped their group with victories over Donegal and Waterford, winning the first game against the Ulster outfit by three points, before defeating the Déise by four.

In the semi-final against Armagh, Dublin’s experience came to the fore as they edged out their opponents 3-13 to 3-08 in an entertaining semi-final at Kingspan Breffni.

This Dublin side under the coaching of Mick Bohan, continue to set the standards and expectations in football across the country.

Pamela Lee and Catherine Hunt

In the early hours of Tuesday 14th October, barely before the sun had risen, two sailors set off to complete a lap of Ireland and set a new world record. Pamela Lee and Catherine Hunt set sail to make history.

Lee and Hunt completed the 761 nautical mile challenge in an astonishing time of 3 days, 20 hours and 29 mins. Lee revealed, “We’re now not just the female record holders and the double-handed record holders but we’re the under 40ft outright record holders. So, it’s pretty cool!”

The motivation behind the challenge was to inspire girls in Ireland and the UK to dream big and hopefully pursue an avenue in sailing.

Sailing for almost 4 days is challenging enough, never mind the unpredictable Irish weather. Fortunately, Lee and Hunt were lucky and it only rained once but Lee laughed “At that point, we were covered in seawater so we didn’t notice!”.

Lee said the hardest thing about napping was waking up in the cold, “It was absolutely freezing! I definitely underestimated how much night time there was. There were about 12 hours of darkness.”

Claiming the new world record was an amazing feat for the team – definitely an inspiration to young girls and boys alike!

Kilkenny Camogie

The pandemic has affected sports all around the world, from the decrease in spectators, minimal interaction with teammates, and isolated training. Unlike many teams, some Kilkenny athletes agree that this year benefited their performance. The team believed there was less pressure put on them and they were able to take a breath and focus on their performance.

In hopes of redeeming their crushing defeat in the All-Ireland Championships last year, the team excelled over their competition this season. They won their first group match against Waterford 0-15 to 0-8. The team then went on to beat Westmeath in the second match 6-13 to 1-7. Kilkenny finished off their group campaign with a win against Limerick 2-16 to 0-8.

Heading into the semi-finals against Cork, many believed the team would be unprepared because of their 3-week layoff. They proved them wrong after winning 2-10 to 1-11 and securing a spot in the final match.

Prior to 2020, Kilkenny had previously made the last six of the seven finals winning just the one. The team entered the finals against Galaway searching for their 14th title overall. The entire game was a game of tug-of-war, but Kikenny pulled through on top and were crowned champions of Ireland.

After years of heartbreak and despair, Kilkenny established themselves yet again as the top dogs of camogie.




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