Celebrating a landmark weekend for Irish women's sport

Young Irish girls and boys have absolutely no shortage of brilliant roles models right now and many of them are female athletes
Celebrating a landmark weekend for Irish women's sport

Rachael Blackmore makes history when winning the Grand National at Aintree

THE most telling reaction to Rachael Blackmore’s historic achievement in Aintree yesterday came from those who best understood its significance – other top female jockeys.

“For all the girls who watched National Velvet! Thank you @rachaelblackmor we’re so lucky to have you,” tweeted Hayley Turner.

“As a little girl I sat on my pony and pretended to be AP McCoy. Little girls now can pretend to be Rachael Blackmore. Thank you Rachael from my 10 year-old self,” said Lizzie Kelly.

The woman of the hour, who has spent the past two years desperately trying to stop her working title being constantly ‘gendered’ finally did that by making Grand National history.

Only 18 other women have ever been legged up in horseracing’s toughest test since Charlotte Brew broke the ceiling in 1977 and Red Rum trainer Ginger McCain said a woman would never win it.

Up until yesterday only Katie Walsh (third on Seabass in 2012) had finished inside the top four.

Just a few minutes after victory Blackmore somehow also managed to produce a quote for the ages, saying “I don’t feel male or female right now, I don’t even feel human, this is just unbelievable!” 

And Blackmore wasn’t the only one grabbing headlines on a red-letter day for Irish sportswomen.

When Ireland thumped an admittedly shambolic Wales 45-0 in their 2021 Six Nations opener ‘Beibhinn Parsons’, Ballinasloe’s 19-year-old wing-wonder, was trending heavily on social media for her latest brace of international tries which came close to being a hat-trick.

Yet Parsons wasn’t even Player of the Match.

Beibhinn Parsons scored two tries in Ireland's Six Nations win over Wales at Cardiff Arms Park.
Beibhinn Parsons scored two tries in Ireland's Six Nations win over Wales at Cardiff Arms Park.

That deservedly went to Hannah Tyrrell whose varied and commanding kicking performance, in only her second international in the key position, may finally have solved Ireland’s search for a new Number 10.

It was one of those days where your head was spinning trying to keep up with Irish women playing sport on the world stage.

Before most of us were out of bed eight Irish women were involved in the AFLW preliminary finals (semi-finals) in Australia.

It wasn’t to be for Melbourne’s three Dubs (Lauren Magee, Sinead McEvoy, Sinead Goldrick) and Mayo’s Sarah Rowe and Cavan teammate Aishling Sheridan were even more disappointed after their Collingwood side were beaten in a 41-45 thriller.

But Tipperary’s Orla O’Dwyer starred in Brisbane Lions victory at The Gabba and will face Adelaide in the final who include Clare’s Ailish Considine.

Natalie Grider, Orla O'Dwyer and Tahlia Hickie of the Lions celebrate victory over Collingwood Magpies at The Gabba on Saturday morning.
Natalie Grider, Orla O'Dwyer and Tahlia Hickie of the Lions celebrate victory over Collingwood Magpies at The Gabba on Saturday morning.

Ailish already has an AFLW medal with the Crows from 2019 and her big sister Eimear was over in Wales, starring yet again for Irish rugby.

There was something to celebrate off-pitch also as camogie’s Congress agreed to permanently introduce some recent trial rules which allow more physicality in the game and ban hand-passed goals.

Camogie also formally introduced a new clause to its constitution to recognise and facilitate ‘dual players’ of which the Considines were prime examples when they played both codes for The Banner.

Watch out today now for the European Rowing Championships where four of the six Irish crews that have reached A finals (women’s pair, four, single scull and lightweight double) are female.

Young Irish girls and boys have absolutely no shortage of brilliant roles models right now and many of them are female athletes.

It’s historic so therefore notable, but it no longer matters that one of them is a woman.

Rachael Blackmore is simply the new Monarch of the Weigh Room and could reign for many years to come.

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