The Irish women’s team’s remarkable run to the Hockey World Cup final in London, the pinnacle of the sport outside of the Olympic Games, earned them an historic silver medal. Coached by Graham Shaw and captained by Katie Mullan, the hockey team’s thrilling sequence of matches got the whole country behind them and their sport and improved their ranking to eighth in the world.
Most recently the National Eventing Team of Cathal Daniels, Sam Watson, Padraig McCarthy, Sarah Ennis and Patricia Ryan not only won silver medals at the World Equestrian Games – where McCarthy also took individual silver – but their runner-up spot also made them the first Irish team to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics.
Gymnastics, Swimming & Athletics:
Ireland also got its first European senior gymnastics champion thanks to Rhys McClenaghan’s pommel perfection and two European senior bronze medallists in Shane Ryan (50m backstroke) and Thomas Barr (400m hurdles). This year’s new format of running multiple European Championships concurrently in Glasgow and Berlin in August produced 18 top eight finishes for Ireland in five different sports.
In Pentathlon, Arthur Lanigan-O’Keeffe (gold) and Natalya Coyle (silver) won Ireland’ s first individual World Cup medals in May (they had previously won in mixed relay), the women’s team of Coyle (5th), Eilidh Prise (11th) and Sive Brassil (21st) won silver at the European Championships.
August saw Jenny Egan win a bronze in K15000m at Canoeing’s World Sprint Championships and young Kildare paddler Ronan Foley also won a World Junior silver and European gold medal in marathon canoeing this summer.
Junior Track & Field:
Ireland won medals at the World Junior T&F Championships for only the third time ever; two silvers for high jumper Sommer Lecky and the women’s 4×100 relay team (Molly Scott, Gina Akpe-Moses, Ciara Neville and Patience Jumbo-Guala). On the track there were also European junior titles for Sarah Healy (1500m/3000m) and Rhasidat Adeleke (200m) and a silver in 800m for Sophie O’Sullivan.
Irish Cycling has a new European junior champion on the track in Wicklow’s Lara Gillespie who won gold in the points race in Switzerland and also bronze in Pursuit.
The World Championships in Plovdiv, Bulgaria saw record breaking numbers compete from Ireland, with four boats making the A Final, including our world champions, with Gary and Paul O’Donovan adding their world title to the silver medal they won in the European Championships in August. The Irish rowing also had notable success at the World U23 Championships in July where they won two medals: gold for Shane Mulvaney and David O’Malley in the lightweight pair and silver for the lightweight men’s quad of Andrew Goff, Ryan Ballantine, Niall Beggan and Miles Taylor. The length of their winning margins at rowing’s World Championships – and in Olympic-class boats – augers well for the future.
The most recent success in boxing was Jude Gallagher’s bronze at light flyweight in the World Youth Championships in Budapest in August, and the Irish team returned with six medals from the European Youth Championships. In June Michaela Walsh (Featherweight) and Kellie Harrington (Lightweight) both won bronze medals at Olympic weights in the European Women’s Boxing Championships.
Russell White achieved a career best result in September, climbing onto the podium in the ITU World Cup in Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic, winning a silver medal.
It was a great summer for the Rugby 7s, with the men winning gold and the women’s team winning bronze in the Europe Rugby 7s Grand Prix Series, both finished 6th in the Rugby 7s World Cup in California. At junior level the men won silver and the women bronze in the U18 Rugby 7s European Championships, showing an abundance of talent coming through.
Nhat Nguyen had a phenomenal season to win a bronze medal in the European Junior Championships, and also reached the last 16 in the senior European Championships, competing in his first full season at senior level. In the doubles Nhat paired up with Paul Reynolds to make the last 16.