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IRISH SPORTS COUNCIL Sportswoman Award for April Dora Gorman

IRISH SPORTS COUNCIL Sportswoman Award for April Dora Gorman

Following their daughter’s sporting career these past few years has ensured many a memorable moment for the parents of Dora Gorman. Nothing, though, quite matched last month’s adventure when, thanks to that excitable volcano in Iceland, they had to take a 40-hour coach trip from Kiev to Amsterdam, and from there make their way home to Barna, Co Galway.
Margaret Gorman, grateful for the offer of a lift from a group of similarly stranded Dutch horticulturalists, opted to look on the positive side of the experience – they did, after all, get to see a fair chunk of northern Europe. And they had embarked on their marathon journey in the highest of spirits having witnessed their daughter captain the Irish under-17 football team to a place in the last four of the European Championship.
It was the first time an Irish women’s side, at any level, had qualified for the finals of a major football championship, that four-team tournament to be played in Switzerland next month.
The campaign began for Noel King’s side back in October when they were one of 40 nations seeking a place in the second qualifying round. Drawn with Denmark, Turkey and Slovenia in a group played over five days in Slovenia, Ireland won all three of their matches without conceding a goal, their defeat of the Danes especially impressive – Denmark are sixth in Europe in the senior rankings, 12 places above Ireland.
In April’s second qualifying round, played in the Crimea, Ireland were in a group with hosts Ukraine, Poland and Sweden, the second ranked nation in Europe and fourth in the world. They beat Ukraine 3-1 but a draw with Poland left them needing to beat the Swedes to go through, a prospect that seemed unlikely when they went a goal down after two minutes. Second-half goals, though, from Wexford’s Rianna Jarrett and Dubliner Megan Campbell sealed an outstanding victory.
In six qualifying matches, then, three against higher ranked opposition, Ireland remained unbeaten, their “reward” a semi-final next month against the leading team in Europe, Germany. Holland and Spain meet in the second semi-final.
Gorman, who played every minute of the six games, produced a performance in midfield against Sweden that King described as “immense”, but she was one of several players who excelled through the campaign, making it impossible to single anyone out. As captain, though, she collects our Sportswoman of the Month award for April on behalf of the entire squad.
Her sporting story, though, doesn’t quite end there. While her parents were journeying across northern Europe last month Gorman and her team-mates were held up in Istanbul on their way home from Ukraine. Her travels last weekend were, mercifully, less complicated, Saturday seeing her in action for Galway at Parnell Park in the National League Gaelic football final defeat to Cork, Sunday taking her back to Dangan for a hockey match with Greenfields. Truly, at just 17 the fifth-year Taylor’s Hill student possesses a sporting CV like few others.
For her performances with Greenfields, Connacht and Ireland at underage level Gorman is one of four nominees for the Irish Under-18 Hockey Player of the Year award. The ceremony takes place on May 29th in Dublin, the day before Gorman lines out for Salthill Devon in the quarter-finals of the FAI Senior Challenge Cup. If Galway or Salthill Knocknacarra need the former Connacht Young Player of the Year’s Gaelic football services that weekend too she’ll most probably be available. Dora Gorman, it seems, has as much energy as that Icelandic volcano.

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