Women in Sport: October 2015 – a record breaking, award-winning month

By Liberty Insurance Ireland on 6 November 2015

As well as the build up to the Liberty Insurance Camogie All-Stars, It has been a record-breaking award-winning month for Irish women in cycling and running. Here’s our October round-up.

The Camogie Championship season may be over but all month we’ve been looking forward to the Liberty Insurance Camogie All-Stars on November 7th. With Mundy performing, Brent Pope as guest of honour and the country’s best Camogie players in attendance, it’s going to be a great evening. Keep an eye on our Twitter page for all the #camogieallstars updates from the night. Best of luck to all nominees!

In other Camogie news, there was a great buzz around Croke Park on October 24th, when the 2015 #GAAyouth Forum took place. Over 180 young players participated, an annual event organised by the GAA’s National Youth Committee, in partnership with the Camogie Association, the Ladies Gaelic Football Association (LGFA) and the Department of Children & Youth Affairs. As well as learning more about the games, the young attendees, male and female players between the ages of 12 and 21, had a great day making new friends from all over the country.

It was a really busy month for women in all kinds of sport outside of Camogie too. First to cycling, and to the European Track Championships in Switzerland, where Ireland’s women’s squad set not one, but two new national records in the team pursuit at the European Track Championships in Switzerland. In the first round, the Irish quartet of Lydia Boylan, Josie Knight, Caroline Ryan and Mel Spath reduced the previous benchmark by 4.372 seconds as they stopped the clocks in four minutes 35.090 seconds to qualify for next round. In the second heat, Ireland faced Germany, where they took the lead in the final 250m of the velodrome race. This time they finished at 4:31.666 seconds, 3.424s faster than their Wednesday night performance. This was good enough for sixth fastest time and a ride off with Italy for fifth and sixth places. In the end they took sixth place but it was a valiant effort from the ladies.

Even though the weather wasn’t great over the bank holiday, it didn’t stop competitors taking to the streets for the 36th annual Dublin marathon. Winner of the women’s race, and €10,000, was Ukrainian Nataliya Lehonkova with a great time of 2:31:09, and the first Irish woman past the post was 46 year old Pauline Curley who ran an immense run, despite undergoing knee surgery this summer. Not only did she beat every single one of her younger rivals, she also regained the Irish National marathon title (plus €3,000), 10 years after first winning it! Congratulations Pauline on a huge achievement.

The Irish women’s football team produced a great performance against Portugal to come away with a 1-2 win, a great start to their Euro 2017 campaign. Portugal took the lead just 16 minutes into the first half, then Louise Quinn and Aine O’Gorman both scored for Ireland. All this excitement preceded a goalless second half, thus victory was secured for the home side. Finland is currently top of Group 2, followed by Spain and Ireland on 3 points apiece. We look forward to a good match against Spain when they meet in Tallaght on 26th November.

Ireland and Leinster second-row Sophie Spence has spoken of her delight following her World Rugby Women’s Player of the Year nomination. "It's fantastic, getting to go to the World Cup final as well and then on the Sunday being able to celebrate the honour of being nominated with my mam” she said. 28-year-old Spence played a pivotal role in Ireland winning the 2015 Six Nations title and was named Women’s Player of the Year at the recent Rugby Writers of Ireland awards.

The Department of Justice and Equality and the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport co-hosted an event ‘Levelling the Playing Field’, to discuss issues surrounding Women’s sport in Ireland. The event had some great speakers, including Fiona Coughlan, former captain of the Triple Crown-winning Irish Women’s Rugby team, who concluded her keynote speech by saying “We need to normalise sport in girls lives. We need to normalise Women’s sport in Irish Society.”

Other issues discussed included the potential wins for producing an Irish version of ‘This Girl Can’, the famous campaign developed by Sport England, and The Leadership Gap which discussed how 44% of London 2012 Olympic Games competitors were women, yet leadership roles in sport across the world is 15%.

Now for some boxing news. The USA have named Ireland’s Billy Walsh as their Women’s boxing coach, which comes a week after Walsh resigned from his Irish Amateur Boxing Association (IABA) coaching position, causing a storm of front-page headlines.

Walsh, who boxed in the 1988 Seoul Olympics, is Ireland’s most successful sports coach, having coached scores of Irish boxers to medals in all the major championships. He quit blaming the IABA for not making it possible to continue in the role, leading to sports minister Pascal Donohoe to call on the IABA to explain the “disastrous situation”. Explain it they did, saying to keep Walsh would have cost them €1.6million a year.

Speaking about his new role, Walsh said “It is a huge honour for me as a coach to receive the opportunity to work with such an iconic boxing nation as the United States. It was with great pride that I was part of building the successful Irish programme over the past several years and I hope to do the same with USA Boxing. I am greatly looking forward to the opportunities ahead in bringing my expertise and experience to the United States Women's Team as they prepare for success in Rio and beyond." Ireland’s loss is America’s gain #supporthersport.

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