Gallery: Cork boxer Christina Desmond is honoured as The Echo Sportswoman of the Year 

Gallery: Cork boxer Christina Desmond is honoured as The Echo Sportswoman of the Year 
Majella Gallagher, managing director of the Irish Exminer and The Echo, presenting the Sportswoman of the Year Award to Irish International boxer Christina Desmond, at the Echo Women in Sport Awards gala luncheon, at the Cork Airport Hotel. Also included are Aaron Mansworth, Trigon Hotels managing director, Councillor Derry Canty, deputising for the Lord Mayor of Cork, Jessie Barr, special guest and Diarmuid Vaughan, Cork Airport Hotel general manager. Picture: David Keane.

THE cream of the crop in women's sport on Leeside was recognised at The Echo Women in Sport Awards at the Cork Airport Hotel on Friday afternoon.

Boxer Christina Desmond picked up the showpiece accolade, as the 13th Echo Sportswoman of the Year after an outstanding year.

The Echo Sportswoman of the year Christina Desmond with Chriosteóir Desmond and Margaret Buckley at the Cork Airport Hotel. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
The Echo Sportswoman of the year Christina Desmond with Chriosteóir Desmond and Margaret Buckley at the Cork Airport Hotel. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

“I’m overwhelmed, it is a great honour,” said the native of Cill na Martra, who was a previous recipient of the award.

“There are loads of talented athletes inside there and they are top class, excelling at their own event and in their own sports. Looking through, I did not expect to get it.

“2019 was a very good year. I wasn’t in the sport really in 2018, so to come back to have a year like that was excellent and this award now tops it all off.” 

The past 12 months have shown the level which this gifted boxer can operate at.

Vancs O'Connor, Sheila Cotter and Nicola Murphy. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Vancs O'Connor, Sheila Cotter and Nicola Murphy. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

Desmond proved she can compete at the highest level, illustrated by her display at last October’s AIBA World Boxing Championships in Russia and the next target it qualifying for the Olympics.

"I'm not putting any pressure on myself," she revealed. "I'm fifth in the world at the moment and you have to be in the top six to go to the Olympics so hopefully I can keep that up."

Marie, Catriona, Peg and Dan Casey. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Marie, Catriona, Peg and Dan Casey. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

The Outstanding Achievement award was given to talented rower in Sanita Puspure. The Ballincollig-resident excellent last year, winning her second successive World Championship gold medal in the single sculls.

Claire Lambe, Tara Hanlon, Sanita Puspure, Emily Hegarty and Airic Keogh all representing rowing at the Cork Airport hotel. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Claire Lambe, Tara Hanlon, Sanita Puspure, Emily Hegarty and Airic Keogh all representing rowing at the Cork Airport hotel. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

The 38-year-old also qualified for the Tokyo Olympics by way of her semi-final victory at the Worlds in Ottensheim.

The Olympics will be the next target for Puspure and she will hope the hard work pays off later this summer.

Meanwhile, there was a deserved standing ovation for Sheila Golden, who is referred to very often indeed as the 'mammy of Cork camogie', as she picked up the Hall Of Fame award.

Christina Desmond, Sheila Golden and Sanita Puspure. Hotel. Picture: David Keane.
Christina Desmond, Sheila Golden and Sanita Puspure. Hotel. Picture: David Keane.

The event also contained an engaging and informative discussion with Irish Olympian Jessie Barr, who chatted on stage with Echo Sports Editor John McHale about the issue of mental health in sport.

The sister of 2020 Olympic hopeful Thomas, she is also an accredited Sport & Performance Psychologist.

Maurice Gubbins, editor of The Echo, hailed all 12 nominees as a credit to their families, schools and communities.

Maurice Gubbins, editor The Echo; Majella Gallagher managing director, The Echo/Irish Examiner; Cllr Derry Canty, deputising for the Lord Mayor and Éamonn Murphy, deputy sports editor The Echo. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Maurice Gubbins, editor The Echo; Majella Gallagher managing director, The Echo/Irish Examiner; Cllr Derry Canty, deputising for the Lord Mayor and Éamonn Murphy, deputy sports editor The Echo. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

He also marked the importance of women’s sport and honoured those present as “some of the finest Irish sports people of this or any generation”.

“It’s our goal to be able to be able to support athletes, but it’s also extremely important to support female athletes.” added, Diarmuid Vaughan, General Manager of the Cork Airport Hotel.

Diarmuid Vaughan, Cork Airport Hotel; Chief Supt Barry McPolin; John Cleary and Conor Healy, CEO Cork Chamber. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Diarmuid Vaughan, Cork Airport Hotel; Chief Supt Barry McPolin; John Cleary and Conor Healy, CEO Cork Chamber. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

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