Two greats make award presentations to rising Offaly sportswomen

Justin Kelly


Justin Kelly


Two greats make award presentations to rising Offaly sportswomen

Two greats make award presentations to rising Offaly sportswomen

On a recent visit to Tullamore, two of Ireland’s most prominent sportswomen from the past decade presented coaching certificates to 17 young women who completed Offaly Sports Partnership’s Community Coaching Programme for Young Women in 2019.

Offaly Sports Partnership chairperson, Miriam O’ Callaghan, herself a former camogie player and former President of the Camogie Association welcomed members of the management committee of the Sports Partnership, the 17 young women who completed the programme, their families, and esteemed guests Mary O Connor and Nora Stapleton to the celebration.

Ms O’Callaghan went on to speak about Offaly Sports Partnership’s commitment to the 20x20 campaign, “if she can’t see it, she can’t be it”; and how in recognition of same that the Sports Partnership had chosen to deliver its 2019 community coaching programme solely for young women between the ages of 16 and 26 years in an effort to encourage more young women to train as coaches and officials.

Mary O’Connor, herself a dual Cork Camogie and Ladies Gaelic Football star with 12 All Ireland medals (five for Ladies Gaelic and seven for Camogie) to her name; and now Chief Executive Officer of the Federation of Irish Sport spoke to the gathering about the 20x20 campaign and what it hopes to achieve.

“20x20 is about creating a cultural shift in our perception of girls and women in sport. By increasing visibility of women’s sport it will become a greater part of who we are and what we follow. This initiative aims to have 20% more media coverage of women in sport by the end of 2020; 20% more female participation whether at player, coach, referee or administration level by the end of 2020; and 20% more attendance at women’s games and events by the end of 2020,” said Ms O’Connor.

Nora Stapleton, former Ireland women's rugby union international with 50 appearances to her name at both Women’s Rugby World Cup and Women’s Six Nations Championship level; and newly appointed Sport Ireland Women in Sport Lead since April 2019 spoke about her personal journey from being a rugby player to a player coach to a full time coach.

Ms Stapleton also complimented the group on undertaking a coaching qualification programme during the summer and expressed her hopes in them taking the next step into coaching and influencing other young girls in sport.

Jean Brady, Sports Inclusion Development Officer with Offaly Sports Partnership and current Offaly Camogie player also addressed the crowd. Ms Brady indicated that she had taken the initial lead in recruiting participants for the programme; while Ailsa Hughes, current Irish women’s rugby international and local Tullamore woman co-ordinated delivery of the four-week programme.

Due to her Leinster Rugby commitments, Ms Hughes was unable to attend on the evening; however, Ms Brady spoke on behalf of herself and Ms Hughes on the quality of the female sports leaders who were receiving their certificates on the night.

Jean spoke highly of the participants’ commitment to the programme, and complimented them on the completion of their work experience module which saw them supporting Offaly Sports Partnership in the roll-out of the Sports Inclusion Disability summer programme for people with disabilities.

She also referenced the extensive feedback she received on the girls’ work experience performance from tutors, participants, parents and children who took part in the summer programme.

To conclude the evening’s celebration, Ms O Connor and Ms Stapleton presented each participant with their certification. Each participant received a range of foundation and level 1 coaching certification in the sports of athletics, basketball, GAA (hurling and football), hockey, rugby, soccer (FAI), volleyball, water sports (level 1 kayak skills); as well as safeguarding (child protection), sports first aid including heartsaver CPR and AED, and Sports Leader UK sports leadership 2.

Subject to funding, Offaly Sports Partnership is committed to running a similar community coaching qualification programme for young women in 2020. The programme will be advertised in early 2020, but if any young women who are 16 years of age or over in the year 2020 are interested in putting their name on the waiting list for the course, please contact Jean Brady, Sports Inclusion Development Officer, Offaly Sports Partnership by email to