2021 HerSport Year In Review Part 2: In Their Own Words

2021 provided a host of magnificent sporting moments that won’t be forgotten for a long time to come.Here’s a lookback on the year through the lens of HerSport’s archives (part 2).

2021 HerSport Year In Review Part 2: In Their Own Words 2021 HerSport Year In Review Part 2: In Their Own Words
Alanna Cunnane

2021 provided a host of magnificent sporting moments that won’t be forgotten for a long time to come.

From the Olympics and Paralympics to Rachael Blackmore’s sensational triumphs that have been recognised on the world stage, there is plenty to look back on in what has been a prolonged watershed moment for women’s sport in Ireland.

Here’s a lookback on the year through the lens of HerSport’s archives.

This is part two, check out part one here.

July

Women’s Rowing Four

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Aifric Keogh, Eimear Lambe, Fiona Murtagh and Emily Hegarty proved over the summer that the ‘Big Strong Gorls’ could smash all expectations to bring home bronze Olympic medals in the rowing four division.

Anticipating the big day they admitted that they were more “process focused” rather than results orientated, but one thing they have no doubt set in motion is inspiring the next generation.

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“When we were growing up we didn’t have anyone really to look up to. There wasn’t a group of heavyweight women rowing so I think now for juniors coming up its something for them to aspire to” said Keogh.

The full interview is available here.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o-1ax1Qiqvs

Stacey Grimes and Maire O’Shaughnessy

Even after they overcame Cork, few were confident in Meath’s Stacey Grime’s statement that “Any day you play Dublin is a big day, but we believe we can do it.”

Going on to disclose that Royal County displayed “great resilience, teamwork, leadership and hard work to come back” into the semi-final, her teammate Máire O’Shaughnessyreferred to their inaugural final as a “dream.”

“I feel like when we finally got up to senior, it was a big weight lifted off the team’s shoulder and we kind of just got to start playing freely and enjoying playing new teams” she added.

“Being let up at senior, was being let up to big school, we were just so happy to be up there and to be trying out new things and learning.”

August

Kellie Harrington

Motivating the minds and hearts of the nation along the journey, Kellie Harrington struck gold in the last few days of the Tokyo Olympic Games.

Her humble approach was a breath of fresh air, as was her reaction to the victory in a post bout interview with RTE.

"I feel relief," said Harrington to the national broadcaster, reflecting on “the stuff of dreams.”

"We're all champions, anyone who steps in between those ropes, are champions. Every fight has been a tough fight, every fight has been a gold medal fight. 

"It's just fantastic. I just can't wait to get home, to sit on my couch, to sleep, to rest - I'm absolutely exhausted!

"I'm like this fluffy pigeon going around. I'm dark grey at this stage! What a journey. 

"There's been times in my career when people say, 'The whole country is behind you'. This time, I really, I really feel that the whole country is behind me.”

Katie George Dunlevy and Eve McCrystal

The accolades didn’t stop coming for Katie George Dunlevy and Eve McCrystal who racked up three medals at the Paralympic Games.

Their unbreakable bond was undeniable in their HerSport interview in which they mentioned they would “never give up because [the other person is] always there” with them.

“It’s just so much more fun together… I know she’s given 110% and she knows I’ve given a whole 110% every time,” said pilot McCrystal.

“You can train as hard as you like but if the other person doesn’t then you’re not going to beat the other tandem riders out there” added Dunlevy.

The duo were awarded the Team of the Year at the RTE sports award recently, and it’s evident for all to see why.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d16b--r2PIE

Ellen Keane

Ellen Keane etched herself into the history books when she claimed Paralympic gold in Tokyo, producing her best performance ever on the biggest stage.

“There’s a Paralympic bronze medalist and a Paralympic silver medalist, but there’s only one Paralympic” champion the Dublin swimmer told the HerSport magazine.

“A lot of people with disabilities don’t have a voice. This medal is going to give me a voice.”

Nicole Turner

Who could forget Ireland’s second Paralympic medal in the pool, Nicole Turner.

Clocking time of 36.30s a new PB, the Portarlington star exuded positivity and joy in her post race interview, along with a tinge of embarrassment as her mum requested she answer her phone calls!

“The aim after Rio was to just get on the podium in Tokyo,  but I never in a million years thought it would be silver. I thought it would be a fight for bronze” the 19 year old said to RTE.

“My mam, she’s the one who drives me to and from training everyday so without her I wouldn’t be standing where I am today.”

“I’m sorry I’ll start texting you back now!” she laughed.

September

Brendan Martin

Meath made history when they lifted the Brendan Martin Cup for the first time in September, but do you know the story of the man behind the trophy?

“We were almost ridiculed at the beginning. People thought we were crazy talking of young girls playing this very rough men’s game with physical contact” Martin revealed.

“When it was decided we needed a cup, I went and bought one in John J Cookes in Fownes street in Dublin.”

“That’s where the original cup came from and it’s now in Croke Park museum where it went on the 25th anniversary. I replaced it with a bigger cup then after that, this time made of solid silver and that has been with the Dublin girls for the last four years.”

Hannah Tyrrell

Who could forget Ireland’s second Paralympic medal in the pool, Nicole Turner.

Clocking time of 36.30s a new PB, the Portarlington star exuded positivity and joy in her post race interview, along with a tinge of embarrassment as her mum requested she answer her phone calls!

“The aim after Rio was to just get on the podium in Tokyo,  but I never in a million years thought it would be silver. I thought it would be a fight for bronze” the 19 year old said to RTE.

“My mam, she’s the one who drives me to and from training everyday so without her I wouldn’t be standing where I am today.”

“I’m sorry I’ll start texting you back now!” she laughed.

October

Louise Quinn

The first ever women’s sport magazine in Ireland made history, as do Louise Quinn and her WNT teammates nearly every time they step on on Tallaght’s turf.

Rising attendances, increased attention and equal pay to their male colleagues has juxtaposed them a far cry from the ‘Tracks in the Jacks’ scandal of years passed and while there is no doubt that has turned “up the notch of pressure”, Quinn is assured that “it’s not about the money, it’s just literally the parity and it’s at all levels.” 

“The support on and off the pitch now has just been incredible. Everything from the association to sponsors, people are really believing in us and then it is up to us then to back it up” she says. “They want performances and they want us to do well, but we’re trying to be professional athletes so we have to take that pressure.”

Read the full article here, or you can also find it in the first edition of the HerSport magazine.

November

Caitriona Jennings

Letterkenny’s Caitriona Jennings crossed the Hong Kong marathon finish line in third place on Sunday, clocking a time of 2:51:31, yet she couldn’t help but hold the feeling that she was “too cautious.”

Now living there the last two and a half years, the Donegal woman reminisced on tactics, support from home and distraction methods in this interview here.

Edel Thorton

Letterkenny’s Caitriona Jennings crossed the Hong Kong marathon finish line in third place on Sunday, clocking a time of 2:51:31, yet she couldn’t help but hold the feeling that she was “too cautious.”

Now living there the last two and a half years, the Donegal woman reminisced on tactics, support from home and distraction methods in this interview here.

December

Síofra Cléirigh Büttner and Ciara Mageean

The European Cross-Country Championships were certainly a sucesss in Dublin. Despite narrowly missing out on the podium Síofra Cléirigh Büttner and Ciara Mageean told HerSport after their race that the “Irish crowd carried” them through.

“It was always going to be a tough race there are some really good teams out there. I wanted to put the team on the best foot going into it but I went out and treid to be a bit conservative at the start but there’s not too much room for that whenever you are out running a mile” Mageean said.

“We’re disappointed not to come home with a medal but every single one of us gave everything out there so we can walk away with our heads’ held high” she added.

Büttner too was bursting with pride, commenting that “this was as good a chance as any” to show just how much it means to represent Ireland on home soil.

“I know for myself it was so emotional on the course. Before I headed out and then seeing my mum on the last turn and everything so it was unbelievable and I just want to say thanks to everyone.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TM_pYVupseE

Katie Taylor

Ever consistent, Katie Taylor continued her reign of brilliance this year.

The pride of Bray concluded 2021 mid-December when she overcame Kazakhstan’s Firuza Sharipova at the M&S Bank Arena in Liverpool.

Lining up her next fight immediately after the fact, the the 35-year-old now looks forward to a bout with Amanda Serrano in the “the Mecca of boxing”, Madison Square Gardens.

Dubbed to be the “biggest fight ever in women’s boxing” fans far and wide can barely contain their excitement.

Mona McSharry

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CGtA4gKxMWc

8 times.

That’s the number of occasions Mona McSharry broke an Irish record at the Fina World Short Course Championships in Abu Dhabi this month.

Clinching a bronze medal in the 100m breaststroke, the 21 year old made a phenomenal splash on multiple fronts of the world stage this year.

“Everyone’s been so nice. With Covid I didn’t get to see as many people as I would have in a normal year but I’ve still gotten so many congratulations. I know that the support is there and they’re all behind me and that really helps” the Sligo native told HerSport pre her Olympic campaign.

“I’m fully focused on performance. I try not to dwell on the time too much because you’re going to swim so many different races, so many different ways.”

This is part two, check out part one here.

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