Seven new names vie for Sportswoman of the Year award
It seems but a wet week ago that jockey Cathy Gannon was chosen as our inaugural Sportswoman of the Year after she was crowned the first female champion apprentice in Ireland, but
today the awards will celebrate their 10th birthday and another name will join the roll of honour.
This year we had seven new names on our monthly list, and seven sportswoman who had won honours before, so the blend was perfectly even. The contenders, then, for the 2013 Sportswoman of the Year award are:
Fionnuala Britton (Athletics)
After her performances at the European Cross Country Championships in recent years, the Wicklow runner has all but annexed our December award, winning it for the third year running 12 months ago.
It was an indication of the standards she has set for herself that she was so downbeat after finishing fourth in the 2013 race earlier this month.
Michelle Fahy (Basketball)
It was never going to be an easy task choosing one player from the all-conquering University of Limerick Huskies team, but the Galwegian’s performance in the Superleague National Cup final, which earned her the Most Valuable Player award, made her the perfect representative of that outstanding team.
Fiona Coghlan (Rugby)
A simply wonderful year for the Irish women’s rugby team, Coghlan, a PE teacher in Lucan Community College, captaining the side to the Grand Slam in the Six Nations, a campaign that included their first ever victory over defending champions England and only their second over France.
Aisling Blake (Squash)
Finally overcame Madeline Perry and was crowned national champion. And in May she teamed up with Perry and Laura Mylotte to win Ireland silver at the European Championships for the second year running.
Jane Mangan (Horse Racing)
Having suffered the misery in March of being unseated in the Foxhunter Chase at Cheltenham when seemingly set for victory on Oscar Delta, 19-year-old Mangan bounced back to collect her first Grade One winner at Punchestown the following month on The Liquidator.
Annalise Murphy (Sailing)
Lesser mortals might have struggled to overcome the disappointment Murphy experienced at London 2012 when she finished fourth, but the Dubliner enjoyed an excellent 2013, among the highlights gold in the first round of the sailing World Cup in Lake Garda, gold again in round two in the Netherlands, and – yep – gold again in the Laser Radial class at the European Championships in Dublin in September. Rio can’t come soon enough.
Nikki Symmons (Hockey)
She was advised by her doctor to quit hockey two years ago, but in June she won her 200th senior cap for Ireland, 12 years after making her debut.
Kelly Proper (Athletics)
After an injury-blighted 2012, the Ferrybank athlete excelled at the National Championships when she triumphed in the long jump, the 100 and 200 metres, and anchored Ferrybank to victory in the 4 x 100 metre relay to complete her four-medal haul.
Bethany Firth (Swimming)
The teenager from Co Down, who switched allegiance to Britain this week, won three silver medals representing Ireland at the Paralympic World Championships in Montreal, despite having her preparations hampered by a shoulder injury. The achievement completed a dazzling 12 months for the swimmer, who was on our monthly list last year too after winning gold medal at the London Paralympic Games.
Therese Maher (Camogie)
Juliet Murphy (GAA)
There was no separating two of Gaelic Games’ finest players in the September awards, Maher helping Galway to victory over Kilkenny in the All-Ireland camogie final, having lost in her five previous final appearances, Murphy coming out of retirement to help Cork win their – and her – eighth All-Ireland title in nine years.
Aileen Reid (Triathlon)
and Aoife Clark (Eventing)
For the second month running we couldn’t separate the achievements of two of our leading sportswomen, both of whom enjoyed a highly successful year. Reid (née Morrison) finished 2013 as the eighth ranked triathlete in the world, the highlight her silver medal at the World Triathlon Series Grand Final in London. Clark had a similarly fine string of results, not least her silver at the World Breeding Federation of Sport Horses Championships in France, the best performance by an Irish rider in the 25-year history of the event. She ended the year at 11 in the world rankings.
Cora Staunton (GAA)
In November Cora scored 2-7 in her club’s semi-final win over Mountmellick Sarsfields, and in the final contributed just the 1-5 of Carnacon’s 1-6 tally to ensure the Connacht champions regained their title from Monaghan’s Donaghmoyne.