The Ireland Women’s squad and management team were honoured with the Sports award at the annual People of the Year Awards in the Citywest Hotel in Dublin on Saturday night.
The annual event, which is in its 39th year, was presented by Gráinne Seoige and broadcast live on RTÉ One Television.
The achievements of the Grand Slam-winning Ireland squad were celebrated on the night, with comedian Brendan O’Carroll and Kerry teenager Donal Walsh, who lost his battle with cancer earlier this year, also recognised with awards.
Others honoured during the ceremony included Fiona Doyle, Concern’s Tom Arnold, Loretta Brennan Glucksman (International Person of the Year), Orla O’Sullivan, Detective Garda Adrian Donohoe, Fabian Lugandu, Joe Prendergast (Joint Young Person of the Year) and Ciarán Finn who received the ‘Dad of the Year’ title in a special category this year.
Guest of honour at the Awards was An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny TD, along with other well-known faces including Kathryn Thomas and Leinster, Ireland and Lions full-back Rob Kearney.
The prestigious Awards provide a unique and special opportunity for the Irish public to honour and celebrate those extraordinary people among us, who do extraordinary things.
This year’s winners have each made a difference to the lives of people around them, from saving lives to fighting for justice in the courts, and pushing boundaries to achieve what was thought to be unattainable.
The event is Ireland’s answer to an honour system and the winners are all nominated by members of the public through a nominations process and finalised by a panel of adjudicators.
The Ireland Women’s squad and management team received a People of the Year award for their skill, passion and dedication in achieving their success, for capturing the hearts of the nation and breaking down the barriers for Women’s sport in Ireland.
Earlier this year the team beat Italy 6-3 in awful conditions to claim their fifth successive international victory of the year, securing their first ever RBS 6 Nations Championship crown and with it the highly coveted Grand Slam.
The Triple Crown, Six Nations title and Grand Slam were the pinnacle of a journey that began as far back as 1993, when the Irish Women’s team formed at their own expense.
With less than 200 female players in Ireland at the time, the team played its first international game against Scotland, resulting in a 10-0 loss.
How things have changed for this unwavering group of players, who through their hard work and passion for the sport, have led the Women’s game to the exceptional point it is at today.
Angela Kerins, Chief Executive, Rehab Group, and Chairperson of the Adjudication Panel, said: “We are delighted to organise the People of the Year Awards for the 39th year, and are honoured to share the stories of this year’s winners with the nation.
“These awards give us the opportunity to honour unsung heroes from communities across the country whose stories and achievements inspire everyone around them.
“With nominations for each winner coming from the people of Ireland, these truly are the ‘People’s Awards’ and reflect all that is good about our society.”
Mairéad Ní Nuadháin, Head of External Relations, RTÉ, said: “RTÉ is proud of its long standing association with Rehab and the People of the Year Awards.
“Huge numbers of viewers tune in every year to see the achievements of Ireland’s everyday heroes being honoured in this way and we are delighted to play our part in seeing generosity and courage of this magnitude brought to the fore.”
The Irish women followed in the footsteps of their male counterparts who picked up a People of the Year award in 2009 following their own historic Grand Slam success that year.
Click here to watch Ireland Women’s captain Fiona Coghlan, head coach Philip Doyle and members of the squad receiving their 2013 People of the Year award live on stage.
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