Ciara Mageean named Irish Times/Sport Ireland Sportwoman of the month

Middle distance runner has summer to remember with Commonwealth and European silvers plus new national record

The Irish Times/Sport Ireland Sportswoman Award for August: Ciara Mageean (Athletics).

Even before she lined up for the 1500m at the Diamond League meeting in Brussels last Friday Ciara Mageean had had a season to remember, the Portaferry athlete proving to be as good as her word having earlier declared that she was in the shape of her life.

By the time Brussels came around she had already won silver medals in the 1500m in both the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham and European Championships in Munich, more than enough for her to earn our sportswoman of the month award for August, adding to a collection that includes a 1500m bronze medal from the 2016 European Championships.

It was two days into September, though, when she produced the race of her life.


“I felt like I was running on clouds,” she said of her time of 3:56.63 in Brussels which not only saw her finally get the better of Laura Muir, who’d denied her gold in both the Commonwealth and European races, break the four minute barrier for the first time, but also saw her smash Sonia O’Sullivan’s 27-year-old national record (3:58.85).

After running on clouds she was, she said, “on cloud nine”.

O’Sullivan’s presence in the stadium for the race made the occasion all the more special for Mageean, the pair meeting up after, Mageean having long targeted O’Sullivan’s 1500m mark.

O’Sullivan saluted her for not being “afraid to lose”, Mageean having gone all out with a blistering final lap, which she started in fifth.

“There’s a couple of occasions in your life where you manage to be in that zone and everything just comes together and you feel amazing. For me, that was today,” she said.

It was back in 2009, when she was excelling at world junior level, that Mageean picked up her first monthly award, so much of her career since then blighted by injury problems. But there was never any doubt about her pedigree nor potential, all she needed was an injury-free spell to realise it. We saw plenty of glimpses of it before this summer, but Birmingham, Munich and Brussels provided the richest of reminders of how just how fine an athlete she is.

Previous Monthly Winner (the awards run from December 2021 to November 2022, inclusive):

December: Ellen Walshe (Swimming). The young Dubliner became the first Irish woman to medal at a World Championships when she took silver in the 400m Individual Medley in Abu Dhabi. Along the way, she broke five Irish records, smashing the oldest, Michelle Smith’s 1994 400m Individual Medley mark.

January: Lucy Mulhall (Rugby). The Wicklow woman captained Ireland to their first ever World Rugby Sevens Series final in Seville and was named in the team of the tournament. She and her teammates took that form to Bucharest last month where Mulhall led them to qualification for September’s World Cup.

February: Leona Maguire (Golf). The highlight of another excellent season for Maguire came at the Drive On Championship in Florida where she became the first Irish woman to win on the LPGA Tour. And she now has three top-10 finishes in majors to her name, including a share of fourth at the AIG Women’s Open at Muirfield.

March: Rachael Blackmore (Horse racing). Our 2021 sportswoman of the year had another Cheltenham to remember, winning The Champion Hurdle on Honeysuckle and the Gold Cup on A Plus Tard - making her the holder of those two crowns as well as the English Grand National all at the same time.

April: Katie Taylor (Boxing). Our five-time Sportswoman of the Year made herself a contender for the overall award yet again after an epic fight against Amanda Serrano in front of a crowd of 20,000 in Madison Square Garden. The 35-year-old, now unbeaten in 21 professional fights, retained her WBA, WBC, IBF and WBO lightweight titles with a split decision victory.

May: Amy Broadhurst and Lisa O’Rourke (Boxing). Following in the path of Katie Taylor, Michael Conlan and Kellie Harrington, the pair brought to five the number of Ireland’s amateur world champions when they both struck gold at the World Championships in Turkey. Broadhurst later added a Commonwealth Games gold medal to her collection.

June: Rhasidat Adeleke (Athletics). It’s been a terrific year for the 19-year-old who has broken five Irish records since January. In June she became the first Irish woman to win a National Collegiate Athletic Association sprint title when she was part of the triumphant University of Texas team in the 4x100m.

July: Niamh O’Sullivan (Gaelic football). The player of the match in the All-Ireland final, O’Sullivan not only top-scored for Meath, she led from the front, driving them on from a five point deficit against Kerry to retain their title, her 45th minute goal proving pivotal.

Mary Hannigan

Mary Hannigan

Mary Hannigan is a sports writer with The Irish Times