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Davitt Honoured With Drogheda Independent Award

Davitt Honoured With Drogheda Independent Award

A number of Ireland’s 2013 Women’s Grand Slam stars have been honoured by their local regions since last year’s Championship clean sweep. The latest of them is centre Grace Davitt who, last Saturday, won the Drogheda Independent Sports Star of the Year award for 2013.

Grace Davitt sported the broadest of smiles and a black eye as she stepped forward to accept the Drogheda Independent Sport Star of the Year award on Saturday night.

The tough-as-teak 31-year-old centre from Stamullen, who was part of last year’s famous Grand Slam-winning squad, took a heavy knock during Cooke’s defeat to Railway Union in the Women’s All-League Division 2 final in Naas that afternoon

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But, as ever, Grace carried on regardless – just as she has been doing on the rugby pitch for more than a decade.

It is that kind of dedication, courage and commitment which has helped her reach the pinnacle in the Women’s game, with her 50th Ireland cap coming against Italy at the Aviva Stadium only a few weeks ago.

Commenting on her award win, she said: “My first award for Sport Star of the Month was 2005 when I got my first cap, nine years ago now. Time flies when you’re having fun!

“Back then we weren’t winning too many games, but to actually win the overall award after winning the Grand Slam is unbelievable.

“I want to say thank you so much to the Drogheda Independent for supporting Women’s rugby and putting us on the map to increase the profile of Women’s rugby.”

In their incredible run to the Grand Slam, Ireland beat defending champions England for the first time ever and then overcame a highly-fancied French side, before squeezing past Italy in atrocious conditions in Milan to spark huge celebrations and guarantee a great welcome back at Dublin Airport.

The 2014 Women’s Six Nations concluded a few weeks ago, with Ireland in third place after losing narrowly away from home to England (at Twickenham) and France, but Grace hinted that Ireland’s focus for this year has been more on the forthcoming Women’s World Cup which is being hosted by France in August.

“After winning the Grand Slam, this year our big thing was the World Cup and we didn’t really want to peak for the Six Nations which is a bit of a shame after winning it last year.

“We’re hoping to up a level now from our previous World Cups when we were eighth and seventh and if we finished in the top six we would be delighted.

“We’re playing New Zealand which is a first for us. They’ve won the last three World Cups and if I get the opportunity to play New Zealand in 15s it would be just amazing.”

Grace put a brave face on Saturday afternoon’s events when her club Cooke, from Belfast, lost their league decider against Railway Union.

“We were hoping to get up to Division 1 if we had beaten Railway Union, but unfortunately their youth and fitness took over in the last 20 minutes and they ran out winners,” she explained.

“In the second ruck of the game I got an arm across the face which was fine, but the next thing a knee landed on my cheekbone.

“I’m very surprised my eye hasn’t closed which I’m glad about, and I tried to cover it up as best I could with makeup.

“I said this is Murphy’s Law – the first awards in a long time and I haven’t had a black eye in about two years!

“It was a bit rushed to get ready, but it’s worthwhile for an awards like this. I really wanted to get there.”

And while her job as a maintenance technician sees her based in Belfast, Grace has not forgotten about her roots at Boyne RFC where she first picked up a rugby ball.

“Sadly, Boyne’s senior Women’s team, which a few years ago was among the top sides in Ireland, disbanded – but that might be about to change.

“They have a great youth structure in Boyne RFC and I was down there last summer and did some training sessions with the youth girls.

“They were playing some games against Ardee and local teams like that and I’ve seen them a couple of times and I know they’ve played at half-time in the RDS.

“It’s definitely a team that’s up and coming and there are girls interested, and so hopefully they can increase that to senior level,” she added.