All going swimmingly for McMahon as she enters bronze age
Well, that was quite a year for Irish sportswomen. And Sycerika McMahon completes our list of monthly award winners in some style, the 17-year-old from Portaferry winning a bronze medal, narrowly missing out on another, and setting nine Irish records at the European short course championships in France. And after that, she collected just the eight titles at the Irish Championships.
It was a sparkling end to the year, then, for the teenager who had a testing enough Olympic debut, but found her form after a nervous start with a personal best in the 200m medley heats. “My main goal was to qualify for London and anything I did after that was really a bonus,” she said of the experience, her eye already on Rio.
McMahon is one of five sportswomen on our list who also picked up a monthly award last year, for her performances at the European Junior championships where she won two golds and a silver medal – Fionnuala Britton, Fiona Coghlan, Katie Taylor and Ursula Jacob are the others.
And she is one of two swimmers on the roll of honour, Bethany Firth, another Down teenager, winning the August award for her gold medal at the Paralympics. After that, there’s an impressive array of sports represented: Athletics, showjumping, rugby, hockey, horse racing, boxing, golf, sailing, camogie and Gaelic football.
Our 2012 Sportswoman of the Year will be named at a ceremony in Dublin on Thursday week, the before-end-of-year date necessitating that the contenders are the winners of the monthly awards from December 2011 to November 2012, inclusive.
There is, it’s probably reasonable to assume, a fair chance Britton will be in the running, so to speak, for the December 2012 award, after her rather splendid day out at the European Cross Country Championships last Sunday, but, of course, she’ll be one of the nominees next week having won the very same title a year ago.
These, then, are some of the sportswomen who made 2012 so memorable – there were many more, of course, this is just a selection of the very highest achievers who produced the most special of moments.
Monthly award winners
Fionnuala Britton (Athletics)
If she keeps this up, the Wicklow runner will annex the December award. This one was for her triumph at last year’s European Cross Country Championships – and last Sunday she did it all again.
Jessica Kurten (Equestrian)
After losing her best horses following a dispute with their owner, Kurten bounced back to winning ways with her first major Grand Prix victory in 12 months.
Fiona Coghlan (Rugby)
Coghlan captained Ireland to their most impressive Six Nations’ campaign yet, the team comfortably beating Wales, Italy and Scotland, only beaten by a point away to France before losing out to England in their Triple Crown match.
Audrey O’Flynn (Hockey)
The Cork woman was a member of the Irish team that reached the final of their Olympic Qualifier in Belgium, where they lost to the hosts, her eight goals in five matches making her the tournament top scorer.
Katie Walsh (Horse Racing)
With some assistance from Seabass, trained by her father Ted, Walsh became the highest-placed female jockey in the history of the English Grand National when she finished third.
Katie Taylor (Boxing)
Taylor won her fourth successive World Championship title in China. Later in the summer? You know yourself.
Stephanie Meadow (Golf)
The 20-year-old from Jordanstown played a major part in the British and Irish team’s Curtis Cup triumph and then became the first Irish player to win the British Open Amateur title since 1985.
Annalise Murphy (Sailing)
Murphy won the opening four races in the Laser Radial sailing class in London 2012, before suffering the disappointment of finishing fourth in the medal race. At just 22, though, her best is, most likely, still to come.
Bethany Firth (Swimming)
Despite suffering from a shoulder injury, the 16-year-old from Seaforde, Co Down , won gold in the S14 100m backstroke at the Paralympics in London.
Ursula Jacob (Camogie)
One of the game’s most prolific scorers , Jacob helped herself to 2-7 for Wexford in the All-Ireland final against Cork, helping her county to its first three-in-a-row.
Rena Buckley (Gaelic football) The Cork captain led her county to All-Ireland victory against Kerry, their seventh title in eight years – and Buckley’s seventh medal too. She also has four All-Ireland camogie medals in her collection.