The Young Athlete Of The Year is sponsored by WHOOP. WHOOP have sponsored this category since 2021. Young Athlete of the Year nominees include athletes under 23 years old for the duration of 2023. WHOOP believe that every individual has an inner potential that can be enhanced through continuous physiological monitoring. WHOOP is designed to help you realize that very potential.
18-year old Abbie Larkin may be young, but she certainly made her impact felt on the world stage this year.
The teenage footballer signed for new League of Ireland Premier Division side Shamrock Rovers before taking the leap overseas, linking up with Glasgow City in the Scottish Women’s Premier League.
Having just made her senior international debut for Ireland in February 2022, the Dublin woman imprinted herself on the set up immediately, earning herself a call up to the World Cup squad come June.
At the biggest stage at the World CUp, she dazzled in front of the record crowds, functioning as one of the Girls In Green’s brightest attacking threats and galvanised much hope for the future generations in the jersey.
Ellen Casey of Clare earned the prestigious title of Junior Camogie Player of the Year, capping off a remarkable season where her team secured the coveted title at that grade for the first time since 2008.
The Newmarket-on-Fergus centre back formed a formidable partnership with her clubmate Laura McMahon, playing a pivotal role in their team’s success. Beyond her defensive prowess, Casey showcased her versatility by contributing 1-3 in the championship.
Under the guidance of coach John Carmody, Casey not only secured individual honours but also earned a well-deserved spot in the Soaring Star Team of The Year category, a testament to her exceptional contributions to Clare’s historic achievement. Ellen Casey’s impact on the camogie field is undeniable, marking her as a rising star in the sport.
In 2023, Ellen Walshe made a splash.
At the U23 European Swimming Championships, the Templeogue swimmer secured two medals—a gold in the 200-metre individual medley and a silver in the 100-metre butterfly.
This year she was the first of the Irish swimmers to book a spot at the 2024 Paris Olympic Games. She did this after a standout performance in the 200m Individual Medley at the World Aquatics Championships in Fukuoka, where she not only clinched victory but also set a new Irish record with an impressive time of 2:10.92.
As the swimming season wrapped up, Walshe won bronze at the European Short-Course Swimming Championships, surpassing the Irish record she had set in 2021 with an impressive time of 56.67.
Navigating the transition from junior competitions to the higher echelons of youth and adult regattas can be a challenging journey in the world of sailing. However, 21-year-old Eve McMahon has proven herself to be an adept sailor, skillfully navigating these choppy waters.
Representing Howth Yacht Club, McMahon, a multiple junior champion and ILCA-racing Gold Medal winner, successfully made the leap to the ILCA6 U21-Worlds in Morocco in October.
In a stellar performance, she claimed the title, finishing 14 points ahead of her closest competitor. McMahon’s victory has earmarked her as a formidable contender for the 2024 Paris Olympics.
Champion fighter Jodie Browne has undoubtedly carved her path to glory in 2023, achieving a remarkable feat by becoming the first kickboxer to concurrently hold a World Combat Games title, along with both the European and World Championship accolades.
Hailing from Tallaght Martial Arts, Browne made history when she completed this triumvirate of titles at the World Combat Games in Saudi Arabia in November. Her crowning moment came in the final, where she outshone Mexico’s Sanchez Trejo, the present Pan American Champion.
Under the guidance of coach Dave Heffernan, Browne stands out as a fascinating kickboxing prospect with a bright future.
At just 22-years old, Lara Gillespie’s sporting CV would be the envy of any seasoned veteran.
After a difficult year last year fighting illness, 2023 saw Gillespie come back stronger. At the U23 European Championships in July, Gillespie claimed two titles. Gillespie won the Points Race and the multi-race Omnium contest, solidifying her status as a rising star in the world of cycling.
Gillespie also landed a major win at UCI Track Champions League in London in November,winning the elimination race in the final round of the race.
On the grand stage of the T20 World Cup, Irish cricketer Orla Prendergast unleashed her brilliance, dazzling the cricketing world with her all-round prowess. Her incredible opening batting performances, including a memorable half-century against the West Indies, earned her a spot in the official Team of the Tournament.
Prendergast’s impact extended beyond the T20 World Cup, as she stood out in the English domestic circuit. With Cricket Ireland’s blessing, she donned the colours of Western Storm, seamlessly integrating into a star-studded lineup. Her performance in the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy and Charlotte Edwards Cup further cemented her status as a rising star in the world of cricket.
Prendergast is an athlete to keep an eye on – her performances might see her get an Indian Premier League contract soon which is one of the fastest growing leagues in the world of sport.
Rhasidat Adeleke and the words ‘record breaker’ go together. Adeleke broke SEVEN senior records in 2023 which means she now holds the record across SIX Irish records including; the 60 metres indoors, the 200 metres indoors and out, the 300 metres indoors and 400 metres indoors and out.
This included a sub-50 second 400m – the first ever by any Irish woman which she then lowered again to 49.20 when she won the NCAA outdoor title, another first by an Irish sprinter, male or female.
After the hectic NCAA season, Adeleke went on to claim 4th at the World Championships – finishing just half a second from the podium. A real star in the making.
Róisín Ní Riain had a breakout year in 2023, solidifying her position as a rising star in the world of swimming.
At the 2023 World Para Swimming Championships in Manchester, England, Ní Ríain emerged with gold in the 100 metre backstroke. She also clinched a silver medal in the 100 metre butterfly.
Earlier in the year on home soil, Ní Ríain set TWO world records in the 200m backstroke.
Ní Riain’s performances in 2023 earned her the prestigious Performance Para Swimmer of the Year award from Paralympics Ireland.
Sophie O’Sullivan made her mark on the international stage, winning a gold medal in the 1500 metres at the 2023 European Athletics U23 Championships in Finland in July.
To add to her U23 gold, O’Sullivan brilliantly closed our her season in September when she set an Irish U23 3000m record of 8:44.72. This was the third-fastest time ever by an Irish athlete behind Mary Cullen (8:43.74i) and her superstar mother, Sonia O’Sullivan (8:21.64).
A fitting conclusion to a season of incredible highs.