Sportswomen of the Month: Eilish and Roisin Flanagan

A mighty team effort saw Ireland win a bronze medal at the European Cross Country Championships

The Irish Times/Sport Ireland Sportswoman Award for December: Eilish and Roisin Flanagan (Athletics).

Hardly had the applause stopped ringing in Amy Broadhurst’s ears, after she’d won our 2022 overall award, when we were off again, this time entering the 20th year of the Sportswoman of the Year awards.

We’re now in the territory where a bunch of our monthly winners wouldn’t even have been born when we kicked off in the dim and distant past of 2004, just one of the 12 winners from that inaugural year still doing her sporting thing – you might have heard of her: Cora Staunton.

As ever, we begin our annual awards with a nod to the last month of the previous year, the standout performance from December 2022 most definitely the marvellous bronze medal won by our senior team at the European Cross Country Championships in Italy.


Bereft of Fionnuala McCormack and Ciara Mageean, expectations weren’t the loftiest, but then Eilish and Roisin Flanagan led the team home with outstanding 11th and 12th place finishes, the Tyrone twins clocking identical times, Eilish having been a late replacement for the injured Mageean.

A brilliant surge from Mary Mulhare on the final lap, that gave her a top 30 finish, clinched bronze for the team, Ann Marie McGlynn, at 42 the oldest competitor in the race, finishing just four places behind her team-mate.

Aoibhe Richardson and Michelle Finn were part of that sterling team effort too, one that rounded off a hugely successful Championships for Ireland which saw them win five medals, enough to put them second on the overall table, alongside Spain and France, with Nick Griggs and Dean Casey winning silver and bronze, respectively, in the junior men’s race, which helped Ireland to silver in the team event.

The combined effort of the women’s team was enough to hold off Spain by five points, with Germany taking gold and Britain silver.

The Flanagan sisters were part of the under-23 team that won silver in Lisbon in 2019, the pair now based at Adams College in Colorado.

Eilish ran the 3,000m steeplechase at the Tokyo Olympics, McGlynn having missed out on that trip when she fell short of qualification for the marathon by just four seconds. If she thought that might be the end of her successful international days, well, she was wrong.

A mighty team effort, with a shiny medal as their reward.

Mary Hannigan

Mary Hannigan

Mary Hannigan is a sports writer with The Irish Times