Ciara Mageean wins Irish Times/Sport Ireland Sportswoman of Month award

Runner’s bronze at European Indoor Championships among highlights of her year

When you make yourself a candidate for our January, February and March sportswoman of the month awards, that's a reasonably solid indication that your start to 2019 has been stellar. And so it has been for Ciara Mageean, her form even before she set sail for the European Indoor Championships in Glasgow earlier this month already eye-catching.

Back in January, while the rest of us were still trying to walk off the turkey and assorted trimmings, Mageean, on the back of some intensive winter training with her coach Steve Vernon in Manchester, was setting a new Irish indoor mile record of 4:28.31 in Boston when she beat her own mark set three years before.

Come February, the Portaferry runner was in record-breaking mode again, this time shaving a whole two seconds off her Irish Indoor 1,500m record at the Athlone IT International Grand Prix, and less than a week later she was in sparkling form again at the Irish Indoor Championships in Abbotstown, cruising to victory in the 3,000m with 12 seconds to spare over her nearest rival. She left for Glasgow, then, with no little confidence.

Agonisingly close

And, by then, she’d already done enough to secure herself our sportswoman of the month award for February. Much as we’d love to believe that would be her most prized possession from the opening months of 2019, we’d hazard a guess that the bronze medal she collected in Glasgow might just shade it.

Two a half years since she won her first senior international medal, a 1,500m bronze at the outdoor European Championships in Amsterdam, the 26-year-old repeated the feat, and just as in 2016 she came agonisingly close to taking silver. Home favourite Laura Muir was the victor, successfully defending her title, Mageean pipped on the line by runner-up Sofia Ennaoui of Poland.

After some tough times since 2016, Mageean having to battle through injuries and dips in form, getting back on the podium meant everything, and has given her renewed confidence ahead of a busy year, the climax of which will take place in Doha in September with the World Championships.

Previous monthly winners
(awards run from December 2018 to November 2019, inclusive):

December: Mona McSharry (Swimming) 
The Sligo swimmer ended her 2018 in some style at the Irish Short-Course Championships in Lisburn, collecting six titles in the space of just three days – the 50m, 100m and 200m freestyle, 100m and 200m individual medley and 100m breaststroke – as well as breaking six national records. The highlight for McSharry was the breaking of Michelle Smith's 23-year-old 100m freestyle record which she lowered again in the final later in the same day.

January: Phil Healy (Athletics) 
The 24-year-old Cork woman took our January award for the second year running after an impressive start to the season, once again winning the 400m at the Vienna International Indoor Meet, ahead of European and World medallists Lissane De Witte and Eilidh Doyle, maintaining that form at the Millrose Games in New York where she finished a close second to the USA's Jaide Stepter.