Katie Taylor crowned Irish Sportswoman of the Year for a record fourth time

It’s been another exceptional campaign for the Olympic, European and World champion boxer

It's the only event of the year where names like Katie Taylor, Stephanie Meadow and Briege Corkery stand equal to those of McIlroy, Keane or Shefflin.

The best of Irish women in sport, now in its 10th season, again honoured those who distinguished themselves throughout the year, Taylor with her European and World gold medals earning The Irish Times/Irish Sports Council Sportswoman of the Year Award 2014 for the fourth time.

There were few who would have voted against one of the most iconic figures in Irish sport, who won her fifth successive title in Jeju, South Korea only a matter of weeks ago.

With the European and Olympic titles also safely ensconced at her home in Bray, Taylor, not for the first time in her career, has been voted the most admired sportsperson in the country and also the best.


"This is the real golden generation in Irish sport. Forget the men's rugby team. In this room with us today we have some of the greatest talents who have ever represented their sports," said The Irish Times editor, Kevin O'Sullivan.

“They are the true essence of sporting achievement and carry their success with a beguiling nix of humility, honesty and style.”

The 28-year-old Irish lightweight, who has continued to thrill and who won her world final fight with damaged ligaments in her left wrist that will prevent her from boxing for four weeks, will from January also become the official Irish Ambassador for the inaugural European Games.

They take place in Baku next summer and in time promise to grow into one of the biggest sports events in the world.

Great athletes

“It’s always a privilege for me to win the Sportswoman of Year,” said Taylor.

“I just looked around today and saw so many great athletes in that room. It’s always an honour to come out with the award and it has capped off a great year for me.

"There are so many great athletes there who could have won the award, the likes of Briege Corkery and Stephanie Roche, so many of them. It's always nice and I'm delighted to be here."

The award grew from the realisation that women were largely excluded from mainstream media coverage and celebration despite huge numbers taking part.

From the first event 10 years ago, the award has grown but it is also recognised there is still some distance to go before women sports stars earn parity with the men.

But in Taylor and other international players such as rugby's Niamh Briggs, hockey's Sarah Greene and Anna Geary from GAA, the building blocks are there.

The Irish Times sports editor Malachy Logan echoed the view that there is more to be done to build on the success of the last decade.

“Ten years on the achievements of Irish women across a huge range of sports have been truly extraordinary and way beyond what a country of this size should expect,” he said.

“That spectacular growth has led to a huge increase in the profile of women’s sport but, as virtually every woman will tell you, more needs to be done to build on the successes of the last 10 years.

“I’m referring to the media, including my own newspaper, and sponsors need to take a bit of a leap and recognise that this is an area that will yield new avenues for readers and customers.”

Taylor has been at the forefront of pioneering and, from a teenager who was not permitted to box in Ireland, has grown into an athlete twice voted the best in the world across all weight divisions. For the last 10 years she remains unbeaten by anyone at European, World or Olympic level in her own 60kg class – a truly staggering level of excellence.

Tough competition

The first main international boxing event of next year will be the Baku European Games followed by the World Championships later in the year. Both events will be a critical build up towards the Rio Olympics 2016.

“It’s going to be such a tough competition. The final will be in Azerbaijan so she (World Championship finalist Yana Allekseevna) is going to be a strong candidate over there as well. The top boxers in the world are all Europeans.”

It has been an outstanding year for Irish women in sport with the previously unheralded Meadow breaking through into the top tier of international golf by coming third in the US Women’s Open and subsequently winning conditional playing rights on the LPGA Tour. Cork hero Corkery took her amazing All-Ireland medal collection in football and camogie to 14.

“You are very much icons and role models for the kids in schools coming through now. The whole country celebrated Katie Taylor’s gold medal,” said Tánaiste Joan Burton.

Taylor was among 15 sports stars nominated for the 2014 title. She has won it more often than anyone else, also winning in 2007, 2008 and 2012.

The event was attended by leading figures from the world of politics and sport including the Minister for Sport Michael Ring and Irish Sports Council chief executive John Treacy.

Johnny Watterson

Johnny Watterson

Johnny Watterson is a sports writer with The Irish Times