To celebrate International Women’s Day, we’re looking back at all the achievements made last year in women’s sport from our Support Her Sport Blog
In January 2016, Maggie Farrelly made history when she became the first female referee to take charge of a men’s senior game – the McKenna Cup clash between Fermanagh and St Mary’s. She ended up showing a red card in the game won by Fermanagh.
February saw the 6 Nations kick off for 2016. Ahead of the Olympics, Sport Ireland announced that over €600,000 would be invested in NGBs towards Women in Sport Programmes to ensure opportunities for women across the sporting spectrum.
In March 2016 Nina Carbery continued her winning ways at the Cheltenham festival as she won the Foxhunter Chase. In Rugby, the Ireland women finished third in the Six Nations after an easy win over Scotland - their campaign record was three victories and two defeats.
Olympic history was made in April 2016. Ellis O’Reilly became the first Irish female gymnast to qualify for an Olympic Games when she hit all her scores at the Rio Test Event, the final qualifying event for the Rio Games.
The month of May saw Kilkenny win their 12th National League Division One title with a win over Galway at Semple Stadium. Final score: Kilkenny 2-7 Galway 0-7. It was also a busy month for the boxers with Katie Taylor securing her spot in Rio at the Elite World Championships in Kazakhstan. Three days later Kellie Harrington won the light-welterweight silver, losing the final to China’s Yang Wenlu. It was a closely fought match but in the end the reigning Asian champion did just enough to take gold.
The golfers were in action in June. Maria Dunne, Olivia Mehaffey and Leona Maguire helped Great Britain and Ireland regain the Curtis Cup with an 11.5 to 8.5 triumph over the United States at Dun Laoghaire Golf Club.
July was all about athletics. Olive Loughnane was officially recognised as a world champion - her 2009 20k race walk silver medal was upgraded to gold after Olga Kaniskina was banned for doping offences. In the same month, Ciara Mageean won bronze in the 1500m at the European Championships in Amsterdam. In doing so she became only the third Irish woman ever to win a European medal.
August & Rio Olympics Digest
At the Olympic Games in Rio, the Irish ladies brought home a medal and made a lot of historic moments. Four years after finishing a heart-breaking fourth, Annalise Murphy sailed to a superb silver in the Laser Radial class. Modern Pentathlete, Natalya Coyle finished 7th in a super competitive field. Clare Lambe and Sinead Jennings made history in becoming the first female crew to reach an Olympic A final at a Games. Ellis O’Reilly became the first Irish Gymnast to compete at an Olympic Games.
Irish success at the Paralympics
The Irish ladies claimed a lot of heavy metal at the Paralympics, resulting in a great ending to 2016’s games: Katie-George Dunlevy and Eve McCrystal pedalled their way to silver in the Tandem Road Race; Ellen Keane claimed bronze in the pool; Noelle Lenihan scooped a bronze for her Paralympic debut in the F38 discus, while her team mates Niamh McCarthy and Orla Barry took home silver in the F41 and F57 respectively. Bring on 2020!
Autumnal All Ireland Camogie & GAA Championships Finals
In September, Kilkenny completed the Camogie double by winning the 2016 Liberty Insurance All-Ireland Camogie Championship Finals. The result saw Michelle Quilty lifting the O’Duffy Cup for Kilkenny in the county’s first Championship win since 1994. The women also saw their highest match attendance since 2006, with a record 328,000 viewers tuning in to the live broadcast on RTÉ One for the senior final – fully 23,000 more television viewers than last year. Final score: Kilkenny 1-13 Cork 1-09. In Women’s Gaelic Football, Cork held on after Sinead Aherne's last gasp penalty to beat Dublin by 1-07 to 1-06 and win their 11th All Ireland title since 2005.
Cycling history was made in October, when Ireland’s Anna Turvey won bronze in the women’s individual pursuit at the 2016 European Track Championships.
November was a busy month for women’s sport. We saw Shelbourne win the women’s FAI Cup, gaining revenge for last year’s final defeat to Wexford with an emphatic 5-0 win over the same opposition. Cork boxer Christina Desmond won bronze at the European Championships. The 20-year-old middleweight was the only Irish fighter to medal in Sofia. Irish anglers made history at the World Shore Angling Championships, which saw Ireland win the Ladies’ Gold in the Team Event. Katie Taylor’s first fight as a professional saw the former Olympic Champion boxer back to her winning ways. Disposing of opponent Karina Kopinska in just three rounds, it was a great start to her professional career and it seems Katie’s already got her sights firmly set on a world title next year. All-Ireland senior champions Kilkenny dominated the 2016 Camogie All Stars sponsored by Liberty Insurance, taking eight places on the 2016 selection.
In December things quietened down somewhat but as a reward for her huge achievements in the summer, Annalise Murphy was named Irish Times Sport Woman of the Year. At the same event, Sonia O’Sullivan was given Special Recognition for her contribution to sport in Ireland.
Katie Taylor fought in her second professional bout and recorded a dominant second win as a professional beating Viviane Obenhauf 60-53 on the judge's scorecard.
January 2017 saw Ambassador UCC Glanmire beat Courtyard Liffey Celtics 61-48 in the Basketball National Cup Final. In doing so, they secured their fourth cup title in a row in front of a large crowd at the National Basketball Arena in Tallaght. Also that month, Sinead Kane became the first visually-impaired athlete ever to complete the World Marathon Challenge - seven marathons on seven continents in seven days. Kane and guide runner John O’Regan began their journey in Antarctica on 23 January and completed their final marathon in Sydney 6 days later with a time of 4:42:59. The Ireland hockey team were busy this month with Ireland beating hosts Malaysia 3-0 to claim the World League 2 title in Kuala Lumpar.
February & March 2017
In Rugby, Ireland remain on course for a possible St Patrick’s Day Grand Slam showdown with England following a tight 13-10 win in Donnybrook over France.
Katie Taylor jumped to 3-0 in London, claiming her third victory in a little over three months as she eased to a fifth-round stoppage against Italian Monica Gentili.
These past 15 months have seen some extraordinary performances from the best women in Irish sport. After a great Olympic year and a brilliant start to 2017, we look forward to the female sporting calendar ahead!