SportSportswoman of the Month

Orla Prendergast named Irish Times/Sport Ireland Sportswoman of the month

Ireland all-rounder won a place in the team of the tournament at the Women’s T20 World Cup

At the rate her footballing development was going a few years back, Orla Prendergast might well have been vying for a place in the Republic of Ireland’s World Cup squad that heads to Australia this summer.

Flick back to late 2018 and there she was in an Irish under-17 team that dished out a record-smashing 14-0 defeat to Albania in a European Championship qualifying game. Four of the players who featured that day – Jess Ziu, Emily Whelan, Aoibheann Clancy and Éabha O’Mahony – going on to win senior caps under Vera Pauw.

But Prendergast opted to switch her sporting focus to cricket once it began to clash with football, and you can’t imagine the 20-year-old has any regrets. She did, after all, get to play in a World Cup in February.

From being a sporting all-rounder, then, she’s now one of the most promising cricketing all-rounders in the game, her performances in that T20 World Cup in South Africa earning her a place in the team of the tournament.


The bulk of that selection, understandably enough, was made up of players from winners Australia, runners-up South Africa, and semi-finalists England and India. For Prendergast, then, to find herself in such exalted company was a fair indication of how highly regarded she is.

There’s no sugarcoating the pill, Ireland’s four defeats in the group stage of the tournament were a big disappointment, even if all their opponents were ranked in the world’s top seven. Having beaten an admittedly understrength Australia in a warm-up game – an understrength Australia still being better than most – they had high hopes of springing a surprise or two.

It wasn’t to be, but Prendergast still caught the eye with bat and ball, not least with her innings of 61 against the West Indies. She averaged 27.25 across the four games, while picking up three wickets.

That form has earned the UCD sports science student a multiyear full-time professional contract with Cricket Ireland, as announced earlier this week, captain Laura Delany, Gaby Lewis, Leah Paul and Arlene Kelly the only others to be placed in that bracket.

She might not be heading to Australia for the football World Cup this summer, but Prendergast’s sporting choices are working out just fine.

Previous monthly winners (the awards run from December 2022 to November 2023, inclusive):

December: Eilish and Roisin Flanagan (Athletics)

The combined efforts of the Tyrone twins, who finished in 11th and 12th place, helped Ireland to a bronze medal at the European Cross Country Championships in Italy, despite being without Fionnuala McCormack and Ciara Mageean.

January: Rhasidat Adeleke (Athletics)

Where do you start? She knocked a chunk off her own Irish indoor 200m record, took over a second off the 21-year-old Irish indoor 400m mark, and then lowered it again with what was (briefly) the fastest women’s 400m ever run in American indoor athletics. And we’re only in the first week of March.

Mary Hannigan

Mary Hannigan

Mary Hannigan is a sports writer with The Irish Times