The New Year has begun but before we say farewell to 2015, we have one final Women in Sport monthly round up for you.
We never really thought about winning this award as the girls we were up against have achieved so much. We’ve done well over the last few years and I just love being part of the team.
The 2015 Irish Times/Sport Ireland Sportswomen of the Year Awards took place in December. The ceremony celebrates the year’s great sporting achievements and we were thrilled to see Cork GAA stars Rena Buckley and Briege Corkery - with an incredible 32 All-Ireland medals between them – named as overall joint 2015 winners.
Both players were pivotal in Cork winning both the camogie and football All-Ireland championships in 2015. These two victories sealed Buckley and Corkery’s place in history, bringing their All-Ireland medals to sixteen apiece, overtaking Kathleen Mills as the most decorated GAA players of all time.
The pair, who train and play matches six days a week , have played together since childhood, and both have committed to camogie and football again this year. After the awards, Buckley said they were surprised when their names were called out. “We never really thought about winning this award as the girls we were up against have achieved so much. We’ve done well over the last few years and I just love being part of the team.”
The ceremony highlighted a stellar year for Irish sportswomen. The 14 women on the shortlist represented rugby, camogie, ladies football, boxing, canoeing, Special Olympics, Paralympics, athletics, horse racing, golf, squash and soccer – a true reflection of the growing participation of women across all sport. Malachy Logan, Sports Editor of the Irish Times, described the nominees as a group of exceptional people but said that more coverage of women’s sport is needed. “Although coverage of women’s sport is improving, it’s still not good enough. If the problem is going to be fixed, men – particularly those of us in the media – will have to get over ourselves.”
There were spectacular performances by the girls who ran. Team medals are always great and it's a testament to what we can build off for the future.
Meanwhile over in Hyeres, France, the European Cross Country Championships took place. Led by Fionnuala McCormack, the Irish women’s team took bronze. After the race, McCormack - who finished fourth in her individual race - said “Coming fourth means something for the team for points so it’s not just about me. I can be disappointed on the one hand but on the other we do come away with a team medal and it’s all about the team in cross country.”
The Irish women’s team has become a formidable force at the Europeans, having won team gold in 2012 and bronze again last year. McCormack was backed up by scoring members Lizzie Lee, Caroline Crowley and Ciara Durkan for a total of 83 points – just five points behind the French. Athletics Ireland High Performance Director Kevin Anrkrom said "There were spectacular performances by the girls who ran. Team medals are always great and it's a testament to what we can build off for the future."
Overall, 2015 was a great year for women in sport. At home it was the year the Women’s Gaelic Players Association (WGPA) launched, to represent and support football and camogie players at the highest levels. It was the year in which Stephanie Roche made the FIFA Puskás Award Goal of the Year shortlist, camogie and ladies’ football match attendance went up, and Katie Taylor claimed her 18th major title when she won gold at the European Games in Baku. 2015 was also the year the Irish Women’s rugby team claimed their second Women’s Six Nations title in three years and Ireland were confirmed as hosts of the 2017 Women’s Rugby World Cup.
2016 is an Olympic year. With Rio on the horizon, and high hopes – especially for our boxers – it’s set to be a great year for women in all kinds of sport.
In the UK, it was the year the women’s boat race, watched by a British television audience of some 4.5million, hit the big time and the year the ground breaking ‘This Girl Can’ campaign inspired an extra 150,000 women to take up a weekly sport.
Globally it was the year the women’s football world cup became part of water cooler conversations across the world, Jen Welter became the first female coach in the NFL and a female jockey rode to victory in the Melbourne Cup for the first time in history.
2016 is an Olympic year. With Rio on the horizon, and high hopes – especially for our boxers – it’s set to be a great year for women in all kinds of sport. Watch this space.