The Young Athlete Of The Year recognises the exceptional individual achievements of Ireland’s sportswomen Under 23 in a single calendar year. Athletes in this category are under the age of 23 for the duration of 2022.
The 2022 qualifiers for the European Youth Boxing Championships marked the first time Cliona Darcy had fought in two years because of Covid, and she was nervous returning to competition—but this year couldn’t have gone better for her. She took home gold at the European Championships after defeating Polina Cherenko, who was 20 kg heavier than her. Even more thrillingly, she won world gold in a 5-0 win over Weronika Maja Bochen at the World Youth Championships.
The 17-year-old Gort native is studying for her Leaving Cert at Gort Community School and all eyes are sure to be on Darcy as the Olympics approach.
22-year-old Dayna Finn is currently on a sports scholarship with Trinity College while studying for her Masters in Education and playing with Trinity Meteors who are currently in action in the MissQuote Super League. Finn is an Irish International playing with the Irish Senior Basketball team and was a crucial player in their FIBA Women’s EuroBasket 2023 Qualifier against the Netherlands where they suffered a heartbreaking 3 point defeat, narrowly missing out on qualification. Finn contributed 7 points in the game and it was an impressive performance from the Irish side who will take plenty of positives away into next year.
Dayna is also an incredibly successful dual athlete, playing intercounty for Mayo while also maintaining her elite basketball career. We look forward to seeing her career progress!
At only 20 years old, Emma Duggan has already two All-Ireland Senior medals for her county Meath and 2 All-Star awards to her name. Duggan is incredibly influential for the side with the superstar forward scoring 1-12 for Meath this Championship season. As well as winning the All-Ireland this year the Royals also took the Division 1 league title, which is an incredible achievement for a team who only came up to Senior in 2021.
Duggan also represents her club Dunboyne and inspired her team to a third successive Meath club title this year where she accounted for 1-9 of Dunboynes 1-13 scoreline in their win over Dunshaughlin Royal Gaels in their final.
With 6 World Championship medals by her 19th birthday, all eyes are on Eve McMahon as she transitions into senior competitions. The Dublin teenager, who completed her Leaving Cert last summer, sails with Howth Yacht Club.
In 2022 she completed the ‘big three’ of European and World sailing titles, winning gold at the ILCA6 Youth World Championships in Texas, the Allianz Youth Sailing World Championships in the Netherlands, and the European Youth Championships in Greece and proves to be a strong contender to represent Ireland at the 2024 Paris Olympics!
Irish boxer and Roscommon footballer Lisa O’Rourke has proven how amazing an athlete she is in 2022.
At only 20 years old, O’Rourke became World Champion at the World Boxing Championships when she defeated Helena Alcinda Panguane of Mozambique in the light middleweight division.
When not boxing, O Rourke plays football for her county Roscommon and helped the Rossies in their win over Kildare, helping them advance to the All-Ireland Intermediate Quarter Finals, where she lines out midfield.
Born in 1999 in Rochestown, Margaret Cremen has been rowing since she was 15. Along with Aoife Casey, she won silver in the lightweight women’s sculls at the 2020 U23 European Championships; the next year she took 8th place in the Tokyo Olympics. In 2022 she brought home two particularly impressive bronzes, thanks to her efforts alongside Lydia Heaphy in the World Cup II and alongside Aoife Casey in the World Rowing Championships in the Czech Republic.
19 year-old Triathlete Naoise O’Donnell took gold in the 18-19 category at the Europe Triathlon Middle Distance Triathlon Championships in Bilbao-Bizkaia in September of this year, and 2nd place in the 16-19 Aquathlon at the same tournament.
O’Donnell also won 1st place at the World Triathlon Championships in Abu Dhabi in November 2022 in her age group (18-19).
Rhasidat Adeleke is undoubtedly a rising star in Irish sport. At only 20 years old, Adeleke came in the top 8 at her first senior World Championships in 2022, was two time U20 European champion and a silver medallist at the World Championships in 2021, and was European U18 Champion in 2018 at only 15 years of age.
In 2022 the young athlete also broke 5 Irish records;The indoor 60m, 200m and 300m and the outdoor 200m and 400m. In only her 6th race over 400m not only did she break a national record, she only narrowly missed out on a medal coming 5th in her debut Senior European Championships.
Adeleke hopes to improve even further on her new 400m event and has her eyes set on The Paris Olympics in 2024.
17-year-old Roisin Ni Riain of Drombanna trains with the Swim Ireland squad at University of Limerick, though she’s only In her final year of secondary school- She will complete her leaving cert next summer.
She was Ireland’s youngest athlete at the Tokyo Paralympicsin 2021, where she made the finals in each of her six events.In June of 2022 she won 2 World Championship medals in Madeira: Bronze in the S13 100m Backstroke (when she was the youngest athlete in the race) and in the 100m Butterfly. She also missed out on third in the 200m Individual Medley by only fractions of a second. In December 2022, the swimmer set a World Record in the S13 200m Backstroke on day three of the Irish Winter Championships.
Ni Riain supports Sport Ireland’s Changing the Game campaign and advocates for inclusion in sport.
21-year-old Siobhan McGrath was crucial to her club Sarsfields’ two All-Ireland Senior Club Camogie wins in 2022.
McGrath helped her club achieve a second successive All-Ireland club title and was top-scorer in the December final against Loughgiel, scoring 1-5 for the club which was captained by her sister Niamh McGrath.
She has also won 2 All Ireland U16 titles with Galway and 1 Minor All Title. She captained Galway to the 2016 title. McGrath was also part of the Galway team that made the 2020 All Ireland Final.