Girls Play Too: Inspiring Stories of Irish Sportswomen


Jacqui Hurley

First ever compendium of stories for 8-14-year olds about Ireland’s most accomplished sportswomen, from RTÉ sports broadcaster Jacqui Hurley. Vividly illustrated with original drawings by five Irish female artists.

Shortlisted for Children’s Book of the Year (Senior), An Post Irish Book Awards, 2020

Paperback – June 2023

Buy the eBook > ISBN: 9781785374661 Categories: , , ,


Irish sportswomen have been breaking the mould for a very, very long time. In 1956, Maeve Kyle became our first female Olympian, and in 1978 rally driver Rosemary Smith broke the country’s land-speed record! Through the 1990s and 2000s we had world champions in Sonia O’Sullivan, Derval O’Rourke and Olive Loughnane, and more recently, the fantastic Katie Taylor, Kellie Harrington and Annalise Murphy have been among those who have put Irish sportswomen on the map. This book breaks the mould once more, as a first ever compendium of stories for children about our best contemporary sportswomen.

With a fairytale touch, RTÉ’s Jacqui Hurley tells the stories of women who have proved that being a girl is not a barrier to sporting success. Each story is one of overcoming big challenges, and the role models celebrated here are sure to inspire the next generation of Irish sportswomen. Featuring twenty-five dazzling athletes, and with delightful drawings by five wonderful female Irish illustrators, Girls Play Too is a celebration of some of our brightest and best sporting stars, and of all that you can achieve if you try your best and never give up on your dreams.


  1. Katie Taylor (boxing)
  2. Susan Moran (basketball)
  3. Sarah Rowe (GAA/Aussie Rules/soccer)
  4. Katie Mullan (hockey)
  5. Olive Loughnane (athletics)
  6. Cora Staunton (GAA/Aussie Rules)
  7. Jenny Egan (canoeing)
  8. Ciara Mageean (athletics)
  9. Nicci Daly (hockey/motorsport)
  10. Denise O’Sullivan (soccer)
  11. Derval O’Rourke (athletics)
  12. Rena Buckley (GAA)
  13. Leona Maguire (golf)
  14. Ellen Keane (para swimming)
  15. Annalise Murphy (sailing)
  16. Kellie Harrington (boxing)
  17. Joy Neville (rugby)
  18. Rachael Blackmore (racing)
  19. Lindsay Peat (basketball/GAA/rugby)
  20. Katie George Dunleavy (para cycling)
  21. Stephanie Roche (soccer)
  22. Natalya Coyle (modern pentathlon)
  23. Sanita Puspure (rowing)
  24. Fiona Coghlan (rugby)
  25. Briege Corkery (GAA)

About the Author:

Jacqui Hurley is one of Ireland’s leading sports broadcasters. She represented Ireland at basketball and also played camogie for Cork. In 2009, she became the first ever female anchor of Sunday Sport on RTÉ Radio One. She now anchors RTÉ’s rugby coverage on television and The Sunday Game. She has presented all the major sporting events, including the Olympics, World Cups, the Euros and multiple GAA All-Ireland finals. She lives in Dublin with her husband Shane and her children, Luke and Lily.

About the Illustrators:

Sinead Colleran is a teacher, designer and illustrator with a special interest in realistic drawing. This is her first collaboration on a children’s book.

Rachel Corcoran specialises in children’s book illustrations, and is perhaps best-known for her collaborations with bestselling author Judi Curtin.

Jennifer Farley is an illustrator and designer with a focus on children’s books and maps. Shooting for the Stars, her project with Ireland’s first astronaut Norah Pattern, won the Children’s Book of the Year (senior) Irish Book Award in 2018.

Jennifer Murphy is a designer and illustrator, with a specialty in portraiture and caricature. Her work has appeared in national newspapers and she works extensively with sports clubs.

Lauren O’Neill has provided illustrations for a number of bestselling books, including Oh My God, What A Complete Aisling. Blazing a Trail: Irish Women Who Changed The World, which she illustrated for Sarah Webb, won Children’s Book of the Year (senior) Irish Book Award in 2018.

Praise for Girls Play Too

‘An ode to the heroes who “wear football boots, boxing gloves and mouth guards”, Girls Play Too  is a much welcome addition to sports literature with its focus on all the too-often-forgotten female athletes of Ireland … Girls Play Too comes highly recommended to all readers aged 9+ and any school library as a non-fiction addition undoubtedly likely to inspire new hobbies, role models and aspirations in all its readers.’
Children’s Books Ireland

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