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42 of the most talented current Irish female athletes

To celebrate International Women’s Day, we’ve compiled a list of some of the most accomplished current stars of Irish sport.

Updated at 18.41

1. Niamh Briggs

Niamh Briggs Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Why she’s on the list: A key member of the Irish women’s rugby team since making her debut in 2008, the 31-year-old fullback was an integral part of the Irish Women’s team’s first-ever Six Nations triumph in 2013, while performing strongly in their 2015 success to boot. She was also nominated for IRB World Player of the Year in 2014, having impressed at the World Cup.

2. Annalise Murphy

Annalise Murphy in action today Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

Why she’s on the list: Winner of 2013 European Championships, in addition to securing a highly impressive fourth place at the 2012 Olympics, she will be aiming to put in a similarly strong performance in Rio later this year.

3. Katie Taylor

Katie Taylor celebrates winning olympic gold Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Why she’s on the list: An Olympic gold medal winner, in addition to numerous other achievements, Taylor’s feats in women’s boxing are unparalleled.

4. Sinéad Jennings

Sinead Jennings 21/6/2008 Source: Christopher Lee

Why she’s on the list: A world champion rower who also was part of lightweight women’s double scull along with Claire Lambe, qualifying for the Rio Olympics last August.

5. Cora Staunton

Cora Staunton celebrates scoring a goal Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

Why she’s on the list: Consistently Mayo’s star player, Staunton has an incredible 10 All-Star awards over the course of 22 seasons.

6. Kelly Proper

Kelly Proper on her way to winning Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Why she’s on the list: An accomplished athlete in both the long jump and the 200m, Proper last year represented Ireland at the World Championships in Beijing.

7. Alison Miller

Alison Miller makes a break Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Why she’s on the list: Another important member of the Irish side, and a latecomer to rugby, having previously excelled at collegiate athletics, Miller has been key to the Irish Women’s team’s various successes in recent years.

8. Aileen Reid

Aileen Reid 6/4/2013 Source: Fiona Goodall/photosport.co.nz

Why she’s on the list: An Olympian and former medal winner at the World University Cross Country championships, Reid has featured in the top 10 of the world rankings in addition to claiming a silver medal at the ITU World Triathlon Series Grand Final in 2013.

9. Fionnuala McCormack

Fionnuala Britton Source: Presseye/Declan Roughan/INPHO

Why she’s on the list: A gold medallist at both the 2011 and 2012 European Cross Country Championships, who also represented Ireland in the steeplechase at the 2008 Olympics, McCormack last year finished 13th in the Chicago Marathon and will be hoping to produce a similarly stellar display at the Rio Olympics later this year.

10. Stephanie Roche

Stephanie Roche Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

Why she’s on the list: A star with the Irish team and Puskas Award nominee, Roche currently plays for Sunderland, while her famous goal for Peamount United against Wexford Youths has done wonders for the profile of women’s soccer in Ireland.

11. Emma Byrne

Emma Byrne Source: Lorraine O'Sullivan/INPHO

Why she’s on the list: A key team member for both Arsenal and Ireland for many years now, 36-year-old Byrne is widely regarded as one of the best goalkeepers in the women’s game.

12. Jessie Barr

Jessie Barr Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

Why she’s on the list: A 400m hurdler who represented Ireland in the women’s relay at the London Olympics, despite recent injury troubles, 26-year-old Barr will be hoping to be on the plane to Rio this summer for her second successive Olympics.

13. Chloe Magee

Chloe Magee Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

Why she’s on the list: The first-ever Irish woman to win a badminton match at the Olympics, she competed both in Beijing 2008 and London 2012, and the Donegal native is odds-on to feature again this year both in the ladies singles and mixed doubles (with her similarly talented brother Sam).

14. Roseanne Galligan

Roseanne Galligan 15/8/2013 Source: Ian MacNicol

Why she’s on the list: A 1500m and the 800m athlete who broke Sonia O’Sullivan’s 19-year-old national record in the latter event at the London Diamond League Anniversary Games in 2013. The 28-year-old has also represented Ireland at a number of European and World Championship events.

15. Hannah Craig

Hannah Craig 2/8/2012 Source: Andrew Cornaga

Why she’s on the list: A slalom canoer who finished 10th in the final of the K-1 event at the London Olympics, becoming the first Irish woman to do so in the process. She’ll be hoping to create more history in Rio this summer.

16. Caroline Ryan

Caroline Ryan 25/3/2011 Source: Ian MacNicol

Why she’s on the list: Won Ireland’s first medal at the 2012 senior track cycling world championship since 1897, she has also triumphed three times in the Irish Elite Time Trials. Ryan hopes to compete in Rio this summer but had a setback when she broke her collarbone after suffering a bad fall at the Track Cycling World Championships in London recently.

17. Lisa Kearney

Lisa Kearney Source: Presseye/William Cherry/INPHO

Why she’s on the list: A judo star who represented Ireland at the London Olympics, and claimed bronze at the 2014 Commonwealth Games, Kearney sadly won’t be emulating her achievement in Rio this summer after a knee injury put paid to her hopes of competing.

18. Orla Barry

Orla Barry 25/10/2011 Source: Lorraine O'Sullivan/INPHO

Why she’s on the list: An acclaimed discus thrower who claimed a bronze medal in the women’s shot put at the 2012 Paralympics, she also won bronze at the Paralympic World Championships last October.

19. Natalya Coyle

Natalya Coyle Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Why she’s on the list: The 25-year-old athlete competed in the modern pentathlon at the 2012 Olympics, while also finishing 11th at the recent European pentathlon championships. A busy year ahead will hopefully involve competing at Rio depending on performances in the run-up to this summer’s big event.

20. Ellen Keane

Ellen Keane 6/9/2012 Source: Ian MacNicol

Why she’s on the list: Won bronze at the 2013 and 2015 Paralympic Swimming World Championships in the 100m Breaststroke, as well as representing Ireland at the summer paralympics in 2012.

21. Sanita Puspure

Sanita Puspure Source: Presseye/Wiliam Cherry/INPHO

Why she’s on the list: Of Latvian descent, Puspure gained Irish nationality in 2011, representing Ireland at the London Olympics and becoming their first female single sculler since the 1980 Games in the process. She finished fourth at the World Championships in 2014 and claimed a silver medal in the European Championships in the same year.

22. Fiona Doyle

Fiona Doyle 1/8/2013 Source: Giorgio Perottino

Why she’s on the list: The first Irish swimmer to seal a spot at the Rio Olympics after reaching the final of the women’s 100m breaststroke at the World University Games last July, she is considered one of the leading talents in the sport in the country.

23. Kate Kelly

Kate Kelly Source: Cathal Noonan

Why she’s on the list: Considered one of Ireland’s top camogie players, the Wexford star has won five All-Star awards in total.

24. Katie-George Dunlevy

Katie-George Dunlevy 13/4/2012 Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Why she’s on the list: A London 2012 Paralympic cyclist, Dunlevy also earned a silver medal at the UCI Para-Cycling Road World Championships in 2014 and just missed out on a bronze at the same event last year.

25. Valerie Mulcahy

Valerie Mulchay 10/12/2013 Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

Why she’s on the list: The talented Cork footballer has won an incredible nine All-Ireland titles in total, she also made history last year when she became the first high-profile ladies GAA star to come out publicly.

26. Sycerika McMahon

Sycerika McMahon Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Why she’s on the list: The youngest Irish medal winner ever at a major event in swimming after winning silver at the 2012 European Aquatics Championships in the 50m breastroke, she also represented Ireland at the 2012 Olympics and won bronze at the 2012 European Short Course Swimming Championships. Her form in recent years has taken a dip but she will be hoping to regain it in time for the Olympics this summer.

27. Lizzie Colvin

Lizzie Colvin Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

Why she’s on the list: A long-time star of the Irish Women’s hockey team, Colvin won her 100th cap for her country back in May.

28. Ais Daly

Aisling Daly Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

Why she’s on the list: Ireland’s leading female MMA star, Daly has been a professional in the sport since 2007 and made it to the quarter-finals in the Ultimate Fighter reality TV series in 2014.

29. Tori Pena

Tori Pena Source: Ian MacNicol/INPHO

Why she’s on the list: The California native represented Ireland in pole-vaulting at the 2012 Olympics and is hoping to feature at the Rio Games this summer.

30. Katie McCabe

Katie McCabe Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Why she’s on the list: One of the star players in the Ireland Women’s U19 Team that got to the semi-finals of the European U19 Championship in 2014, McCabe recently signed for Arsenal and is widely considered to be one of the best young female footballers in the country.

31. Briege Corkery

Briege Corkery and Sinead Finnegan Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Why she’s on the list: The dual star has won 16 All-Ireland titles in camogie and football combined after once again triumphing in both codes last year.

32. Katie Walsh

Katie Walsh celebrates onboard Thunder And Roses after winning Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Why she’s on the list: Coming from a big horse-racing family with her father Ted and brother Ruby also big names in the sport, Katie became only the third female jockey to win the Irish Grand National in April 2015.

33. Eimear Mullan

Eimear Mullan, Athlete of the Year winner with Anne O'Leary, Vodafone Ireland CEO

Why she’s on the list: One of the top triathletes in the country, Mullan has set an Irish record for the Ironman and was named athlete of the year at the 2014 Triathlon Ireland Awards.

34. Lizzie Lee

Lizzie Lee Source: Sasa Pahic Szabo/INPHO

Why she’s on the list: Considered a strong contender for Rio, Lizzie Lee is inside the qualifying standard despite only taking up competitive athletics at the age of 26. She also won a gold medal at the 2012 European Cross Country Championships.

35. Stephanie Meadow

Stephanie Meadow Source: Presseye/William Cherry/INPHO

Why she’s on the list: The Antrim native has opted to represent Ireland at the 2016 Olympics, while the highlight of her career so far has undoubtedly been her incredible third-place finish at the US Open.

36. Ciara Everard

Ciara Everard Source: Ian MacNicol/INPHO

Why she’s on the list: The 25-year-old Kilkenny-born athlete is the Irish indoor record holder for 800m and has starred at several European and World Championships.

37. Leona Maguire

Leona Maguire Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

Why she’s on the list: Involved in the sport at a serious level since the age of nine, Maguire showed how far she has progressed by topping women’s World Amateur Golf Ranking last May and retained her spot there in the latest rankings released last month.

38. Nina Carberry

Nina Carberry Source: Lorraine O'Sullivan/INPHO

Why she’s on the list: One of the top female jockeys in the country, her list of achievements includes winning the Irish Grand National in 2011 and setting the record for a female jockey at the Grand National on more than one occasion, competing in the event a record five times.

39. Maria McCambridge

Maria McCambridge Source: INPHO

Why she’s on the list: Still going strong at 40, the long-distance runner represented her country at the 2004 Olympics and has also competed in several outdoor and indoor World Championships.

40. Rena Buckley 

Rena Buckley lifts the Brendan Martin Cup Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Why she’s on the list: The dual star has won several All-Ireland titles with Cork and was recognised for her achievements with a nomination for RTÉ Sports Person of the Year for 2015.

41. Sophie Spence

Sophie Spence on the attack Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

Why she’s on the list: Considered one of Irish Women’s Rugby’s brightest talents, Spence helped her country win the Six Nations last year and received a nomination for World Women’s Rugby Player of the Year as a result.

42. Ciara Mageean

Ciara Mageean with her silver medal Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

Why she’s on the list: The 23-year-old UCD student recently broke the Irish indoor 1500m record and has achieved the qualifying standard for the Rio Olympics.

Who else should be on the list? Let us know in the comments section below.

A version of this piece was originally published on 8 March, 2014

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