After a stand-out year for women in sport, nationally and globally, we look at the rising Irish stars who are likely to make their mark in 2015.
(Edel Thornton, Brunell, Cork)
Teen sensation Edel Thornton took a huge step in December as she signed a four-year scholarship in the United States. A rapid forward, Thornton was approached by seven colleges before signing on the dotted line for the Bobcats of Quinnipiac University in Connecticut.
(Ashleigh Baxter, Cooke RFC & Ulster)
Having established herself on the wing for the Ireland 15s, Baxter could be the player to move into the key number-13 role for new head coach Tom Tierney, with Lynne Cantwell and Grace Davitt retired.
Baxter is also a contracted sevens player. First on her schedule this year is the Six Nations, then the Europeans with the sevens squad in June, which is a 2016 Olympic qualification tournament. Make a note too of Mary Healy of Galwegians and Connacht, and Jamie Deacon of Blackrock.
(Gaby Lewis, YMCA)
At just 14, Gaby Lewis — daughter of international rugby referee Alan — is a rising star of women’s cricket. A right-handed batter, the Dubliner is known for her fearless playing style and has displayed a natural flair for building an innings.
She already comes in high up the order for YMCA, alongside Irish cricket legend Clare Shillington. She was called up to the Irish senior team came last summer and made her debut across the water in a county championship game. She stays in the squad for this year’s World Cup qualifiers, to be held in Bangkok.
Eimear Scally (Cork)
Super-sub Scally became a household name when she scored the equalising goal in Cork’s famous All-Ireland final comeback against Dublin.
Legend has it that when the Cork management team called her from the bench, the Éire Óg teenager assured them she’d score the goal they needed. Scally and Olivia Divilly of Galway are two youngsters with big futures ahead of them if they can stay injury-free.
(Lisa Dilleen, Galway)
Rowing since the age of 13, Lisa Dilleen has made terrific progress since taking up the sport with Tribesmen Rowing Club a decade ago. While in college she rowed with Cork IT and is now a member of Gráinne Mhaol Rowing Club and a Rowing Ireland High Performance athlete.
Dilleen and Leonora Kennedy finished eighth in the Women’s Pair race at the 2014 World Rowing Championships in Amsterdam. Training at the National Rowing Centre in Farran Woods in Cork, the focus now for the pair is the 2015 World Rowing Championships in Aiguebelette, France, where they can qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympics.
(Caoimhe Costello, Limerick)
The Adare woman was excellent in the 2014 All-Ireland minor final replay against Cork, scoring 2-6 across both games to help Limerick to a first All-Ireland Minor A success.
She then lined out at midfield four months later, when the Limerick Intermediate team also took national honours. Still 18, Costello’s dynamic style marks her out as one of the most exciting talents to emerge from Limerick in recent times.
(Lauren Dwyer, Raheny United)
The Carlow youngster burst onto the WNL scene for Raheny United, and made her debut in the Uefa Women’s Champions League in Cluj, Romania back in August. Formerly with Wexford Youths, Dwyer has, in a short time, solidified her position in midfield.
She made waves last summer as part of Dave Connell’s triumphant U19 squad, as well as putting in a stellar performance in the 2014 FAI Women’s Cup final, earned a call-up for Ireland’s January training camp in La Manga, Spain.
(Jean O’Driscoll, Cork)
The 19-year-old has been turning heads at Muskerry Golf Club, having represented UCC and the Irish university team at the World University Golf Championships in Crans-Montana, Switzerland, last summer.
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