Connacht’s Beibhinn Parson’s has been named the Guinness Irish Rugby Writers Women’s Player of The Year for the 2019/2020 season.
The Ballinasloe native starred in Ireland’s Six Nations victories over Scotland and Wales before the coronavirus pandemic forced the curtailment of the tournament.
The 18-year-old’s achievement is especially impressive, given she balanced representing Connacht and Ireland with studying for the Leaving Certificate examination.
Connacht women’s U18 coach Fraser Gow said Parson’s -- who he coached at that level -- award came as no surprise to him, given her dedication to her sport and natural athletic abilities.
“It was an amazing achievement for someone so young,” the Glaswegian said.
“The performances that she put in and the tries that she scored meant she was absolutely deserving of that award.
“You could tell immediately the talent she had, in terms of her speed and acceleration and how she can switch the gears so quickly and in terms of her evasion and awareness of exploiting space.
“I think Beibhinn has the absolute spot-on attitude. She wants to improve and she wants to get better every day. This recognition that she has got is another step forward for her, but she has the motivation and drive and she wants to do more. She wants to be part of a winning Ireland squad and to help that squad and help Ireland get to the World Cup.
“She knows herself that you have to put the hard work in and be dedicated to your craft. If you’re not -- even if you have the talent -- you won’t go on to achieve these things and get the recognition.”
Meanwhile, Wendy Hickey -- women’s rugby development officer at Connacht Rugby -- praised the role played by Ballinasloe RFC in the Irish international’s development, highlighting the importance of the club game in the province.
“The coaches in Ballinasloe RFC deserve recognition for helping her get to where she is now,” Hickey said.
“Every coach from mini to youth rugby had their part to play in her achievement. It all starts with club rugby.”