14th annual Echo Women in Sport awards celebrate Leeside’s finest

Sanita Puspure and Carmel Calnan have been picked as annual winners
14th annual Echo Women in Sport awards celebrate Leeside’s finest

Ireland's Lizzie Lee is a former Echo Women in Sport winner. Picture: INPHO/Morgan Treacy

THE 14th annual Echo Women in Sport awards are a chance for us to highlight the sustained brilliance and unwavering passion of athletes in Rebel county.

Rower Sanita Puspure was selected by our judges as The Echo Women in Sport Awards 2020 Sportswoman of the Year.

The Echo Women in Sport Awards 2020 Hall of Fame selection is Carmel Calnan.

The most recent ceremony was held at the Cork Airport Hotel and was a memorable and colourful celebration of female sport in Cork, as was the case at each event since the first in early 2008.

Unfortunately, the ongoing Covid restrictions mean a formal function isn’t possible, but today we’ve profiled a selection of Corkonians who made their mark on 2020: sprinter Phil Healy, dual county winner Fiona Keating, soccer maestro Denise O’Sullivan, and Saoirse Noonan, who played All-Ireland finals in ladies football and soccer.

Others who grabbed headlines last year include Maxine O’Sullivan, who rode It Came to Pass to a shock victory at the Cheltenham Festival, camogie aces Orla Cronin and Amy O’Connor, rugby internationals Leah Lyons and Anna Caplice, Cork City rising star Éabha O’Mahony and athlete Louise Shanahan.

Future Proof and Maxine O'Sullivan win the Breast Cancer Ireland (Ladies) Handicap. Picture: Healy Racing 
Future Proof and Maxine O'Sullivan win the Breast Cancer Ireland (Ladies) Handicap. Picture: Healy Racing 

The very popular scheme has been in operation since 2007, and former Echo journalists Alison Donnelly and Mary White were at the forefront of its early success.

John McHale, sports editor of The Echo, explained it was hugely important to acknowledge the 2020 sporting season even if it’s not possible to hold the traditional function.

“The best sports people in Cork are often the best in Ireland and sometimes the world and that’s very much the case with Sanita.

This is her second time as our Sportswoman of the Year in three years and she’s not finished yet.

“Not only has she collected numerous individual accolades, but she also helped increase the profile and popularity of her sport.

“Even in a year when competitions and even training were shut down for long spells, the judges had a number of candidates and that tells a lot about the strength of women’s sport in Cork.

“Our Hall of Fame recipient deserves the highest praise as well. Carmel Calnan has committed a lifetime of service to Clonakilty ladies football club, as one of its founding members.

“She’s an unsung hero getting the spotlight. Which has always been at the heart of these awards.”

Maurice Gubbins, editor of The Echo, hailed sports women at every level for their incredible efforts across the past 12 months in the face of severe restrictions.

“They are a credit to their families, schools, clubs and communities and it was very important to us to celebrate that commitment and passion with The Echo Women in Sport awards.

“Sanita Puspure is a role model in Cork and beyond for her consistency as a rower. She has delivered year after year and hopefully, the Olympics will offer her another chance to show her undoubted class on the water.”

Sanita Puspure celebrates with her gold medal at the European Rowing Championships in Lucerne.
Sanita Puspure celebrates with her gold medal at the European Rowing Championships in Lucerne.

Sanita is the second person to land the main prize twice, emulating boxer Christina Desmond.

The other previous winners were basketballer Jessica Scannell, GAA icons Briege Corkery, Rena Buckley, and Juliet Murphy, Olympians Derval O’Rourke, Olive Loughnane and Lizzie Lee, Paralympian Orla Barry, soccer star Denise O’Sullivan, and soccer international and ladies footballer Saoirse Noonan.

Sportswoman of the Year winners...

2007: Jessica Scannell

2008: Briege Corkery

2009: Olive Loughnane

2010: Derval O’Rourke

2011: Juliet Murphy

2012: Orla Barry

2013: Christina Desmond

2014: Denise O’Sullivan

2015: Lizzie Lee

2016: Rena Buckley

2017: Saoirse Noonan

2018: Sanita Puspure

2019: Christina Desmond

2020: Sanita Puspure

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