HAS 2018 been Ireland’s greatest year ever of sporting success?
It is hard to argue otherwise given Ireland’s rugby success and the quality and quantity of the 75 international medals Irish athletes won this year, especially given the huge variety of sports in which they excelled.
The nation now has four world senior champions across rowing and boxing, seven more in para-sports, world silver medallists in hockey and eventing, a bronze in world swimming and a European senior gymnastics champion still in his teens; an unprecedented success rate just two years out from the Tokyo Olympics.
Of those 75 medals 32 were senior level, and achieved across 10 Olympic and three Paralympic sports.
There were 43 medals at age-group level (U23/ junior/youth) and these came from eight Olympic sports.
Annual comparisons are difficult given the cyclical nature of international competitions and variety of them from year to year.
However, in 2016, Ireland won 54 medals (with a 37/17 senior/junior split) in Olympic sports. Last year that jumped to 73 with a 33/40 age split, and this year’s total matched that but with a 32/41 split.
Success at underage and age-group does not guarantee that it will be replicated at senior level because there is a considerable leap in standards and no guarantee of continuity.
However there is some correlation between them and under-age success usually offers a pathway to senior ranks that is invaluable.
To see such a massive growth in Ireland’s age-group success in the past two years is particularly encouraging as we look to the future, especially to Paris 2024.
And it is a real credit and success story for Sport Ireland, the Institute of Sport and all the governing bodies who are supporting this bright and burgeoning generation with vital funding, coaching and support.