It’s been an action packed summer for women across all kinds of sport and we’ll kick off with one of our favourite sports, Camogie. The Liberty Insurance Senior All-Ireland Camogie Championship Final is just around the corner and after an eventful and action-packed season, we now know it’s Cork and Galway who will be playing in Croke Park on the 13th September.
Galway played Wexford in a tough semi-final at Nowlan Park, with Niamh McGrath scoring a point in injury time to secure Galway’s place in the final. The following day it was Cork V Kilkenny at Walsh Park. Two goals in the space of a minute in the third quarter meant reigning champions Cork went through to the final in the hope of securing a second consecutive All-Ireland title. Good luck to both teams, it’s going to be some match!
Next to cricket, and the first three matches in the 2015 Women’s Ashes Series which took place in July. They were played in front of their biggest ever TV and radio audience, because for the first time in history all seven fixtures - one test match, three one-day internationals and three Twenty20 internationals - are being broadcast live on Sky Sports and BBC Radio, raising the profile of the game. All this bodes well for 2017, when Ireland hosts the Women’s Cricket World Cup.
There was widespread praise for Women’s Running Magazine, which featured a plus-sized model on its cover, a break from the super skinny aspirational body type usually seen. Giving her reasons for choosing 18 year old plus-size model Erica Schenk, Editor-in-chief Jessica Sebor said “There's a stereotype that all runners are skinny, and that's just not the case. Runners come in all shapes and sizes. You can go to any race finish line, from a 5K to a marathon, and see that. It was important for us to celebrate that.”
It was disappointing news for the Republic of Ireland Women's U17s, who bowed out of the UEFA Women's U17 European Championships in Iceland after losing 2-0 to Norway. Despite what the final score suggests, Ireland put up a spirited fight throughout the match and played some fantastic football, even though going into the match they knew they wouldn’t be progressing past the group stage.
Afterwards manager Dave Connell said "I'm very, very proud of our girls and we can hold our heads up high with how we've played in this tournament. It was a fantastic achievement to qualify and we performed well in our three games, but just didn't get that bit of luck.” One player who really stood out in all three of Ireland’s group matches was goalie Amanda McQuillan – definitely one to watch out for in the future.
The annual Guinness Rugby Writers of Ireland Awards took place in August and Sophie Spence was delighted to be named Women's Player of the Year, after playing an integral part in Ireland’s successful 6 Nations campaign last year.
After receiving the award, she modestly said "It's something you can only dream of. I didn't think I had my best performances this year, but I really enjoyed it and it's come as a big surprise when I see the other players who have won it like Claire Molloy, Lynne Cantwell and Niamh Briggs, so it's fantastic. It's nice to see our forwards getting the recognition too! Our pack has had a lot of continuity in the past season which helped us deliver real consistency so this award is as much about the forwards as anything else."
To racing now, and Ascot’s Shergar Cup, where four teams, made up of the world’s best jockeys, compete in six races to take home the prestigious cup. Teams used to be divided into countries and regions; Great Britain & Ireland, Europe and Rest of World - but now includes an all-female team too.
This year the Girls team, captained by Canadian Emma-Jayne Wilson, stunned the 30,000-strong crowd by winning three out of the six races and taking home the Cup for the first time in history. Winner of two races and the Silver Saddle medal for top jockey, Sammy Jo Bell said: “I just can’t believe the opportunity I’ve been given and to have two winners and win the Silver Saddle is outstanding. It’ll take a lot to better this one.” A great result for women in racing, and a great result for women’s sport.
And last but not least… Talented Irish sailor and European Champion Annalise Murphy was back in familiar waters at the Dun Laoghaire Regatta. Ahead of the event she spoke about her love of the sport, attributing it to her family: "My whole family sails and my mum went to the Olympics in 1988 sailing, so we were all brought up with it, we were always sailing with my mum and dad from a very young age.”
Although Murphy admits success has meant sacrificing a ‘normal’ social life, she doesn’t seem to mind, saying "The last three years have been amazing. I’ve done a lot of good things since the Olympics: I won the European Championships and I’ve won World Cup events since then. Now I'm looking to the European Championships in Denmark and an Olympic test event in Rio in August, before the World Championships in November."
Good luck to Annalise in all her upcoming events. What a great example of what can happen when parents Support Her Sport!