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Women In Sport Programme

The Women in Sport Programme was established in 2005 and to date over €19 million has been invested through National Governing Bodies and Local Sports Partnerships.  A key aim of the programme is to have equal participation between males and females in sport. The gender gradient in sports participation has closed from 15.7% to 4.5% since 2007 according to the most recent Irish Sports Monitor (2017)

Through the Women in Sport Programme, many national governing bodies for sport, have developed innovative programmes which target groups of young girls, teenage girls and older adults. The programmes are not solely focused on participation, but also look at the areas of leadership and coaching initiatives. 

Mayo Sport and Recreation Partnership is fully committed to supporting Women in Sport Programmes throughout County Mayo. Mayo Sports Partnership makes an annual application to Sport Ireland for funding for projects under the its ‘Women in Sport’ programme.

Our Women in Sport programmes include:

  • Women’s Mini Marathon
  • Women’s Try a Tri
  • Girls Active
  • It’s for Girls

Along with all our programmes which are inclusive to Women, Couch to 5K, Sofa to Saddle, Community Walking programme, Swim for a Mile.

Women In Sport Programmes

Check out some of our Women In Sport programmes below.

  • Women in Sport Week 2021 -Day 1


    celebrating Day 1 of our #WIS week.

    We want to shine a light on a Wonderful Women’s event: The West of Ireland Women’s Mini Marathon.

    • Take a trip down memory lane with some pictures from previous events.
    • Take a peep and Look forward to our 2021 Virtual event.


  Western People Women’s Mini Marathon 2010 – 2021

    Shining a spotlight

    The West of Ireland Women’s Mini-Marathon, widely regarded as one of the preeminent road races in the region,

    Since its inauguration in 2010, the Mini-Marathon has grown to become one of the biggest events of its kind in the West of Ireland. Over the 10 physical stagiings  of the race, a combined 28,000 participants, including 5000 children, have taken part in the event. The Mini-Marathon has has an estimated value of over €2.5 million to the economy of Castlebar and has raised in excess of €1 million for its charity partners.

    The event is regarded as the foremost event of its kind in the region and has drawn praise since its launch in 2010 for its efforts to promote women’s involvement in sport. #womeninsportIRE

    The Mini-Marathon is open to girls and women of all ages and abilities, who wish to run, jog or walk the 10k route, with Irish Olympian Sonia O’Sullivan among the athletes to regularly take part in the event and has been its ambassador since its launch.


    Last year 2020, The Mall in Castlebar may not have been humming this year with the 11th Western People Women’s Mini Marathon but its spirit was very much kept alive with the staging of a virtual Mayo Day 10K Your Way last Sunday. Organised through Mayo Sports Partnership approximately 1,000 participants from across the region and beyond celebrated the annual event by either doing a full 10K or a tag team 10K, all adhering to HSE guidelines. The vast majority of participants raised much needed funds for local and national charities including Western Care, Mayo Roscommon Hospice, Mayo Mental Health, Cancer Care for Children, Physios COVID19 Campaign and many more. With over 40,000 being raised in total

    It never ceases to amaze me the goodwill and generosity of people when it comes to events like this. On behalf of Mayo Sports Partnership, I would like to congratulate and thank everybody across the Mayo Day weekend who raised funds for many charities while also keeping active” said Cllr Michael Loftus Chairman Mayo Sports Partnership.

    Sports teams, community groups, workplaces etc all used their imagination and creativity to complete the 10K.

    This year May Bank Holiday 2021 we are once again delighted to launch our event for 2021 Western People Women’s Mini Marathon. It may be Virtual this year but the spirit of the event is stronger than ever. Where the diaspora of Mayo Women around the world will be taking part in this year’s “Mayo Day Women’s 10k Your way, your hero, your say”

    Mayo County Council, Mayo Sports Partnership and all the event partners are steadfast in their support of an increased level of participation in sport among girls and women of all ages. The physical, mental and social benefits of taking part in any and all kinds of sports are well-documented and the Mini-Marathon is one of the centrepiece events of the county’s sporting calendar. We look forward to you all joining us once again.

    Keep up to date on how to get involved through our Social Media platforms and our webpage :

  • Women in Sport Week 2021 - Day 2

    Women in Sport

    celebrating Day 2 of our #WIS week.

    Mayo Day Women’s 10k “your way” 2020

    Paula Donnellan Walsh

    To Me =  “Morning run, mayo sun, mammy fun, corona run: “

    8am Sunday morning, sun shining, all asleep, Mayo AC Vest, shorts, no phone, out the back door, ahh poor bliss.

    What a morning, what a place; the west of Ireland countryside. To the left the lough; the swans, the sound, to the right; the mountains, the beauty, the view, straight ahead; the bog, o but its outside my 2km, ok so its corona run.  

    Hardly a sinner about except the farmer on his bike and the kid’s pet lamb I can still here bleating in the background. The west sleeps soundly; where else would you want to be. Two swans fly overhead going home I imagine, I fly along my route as that’s how I feel, free, not a care in the world as my mind is at ease while out here, this is mindfulness at its best. You see we in Mayo (and in the West) growing up had it all, running free in the fields or on the road, no phones, no speedy traffic. We had the land, the animals, and heaps of time. Hers’s the thing our kids have all that too we just need time and set them free, now we have it let’s make the most of it and make a promise to make more of it. Do we need to be going in the future? We really have it all right here, right now.

    Mindfulness, gratitude, tulips, snowdrops, new roads, new flowers, birds, trees; life is simple, peaceful, quiet, beautiful.

    11.5 miles within 2km corona route, a Mayo woman on Mayo Day running for Mayo/ Roscommon Hospice, in my proud Mayo Ac gear. Looking forward to seeing hubby and the kids and starting the day, no rushing back out the door to kid’s football…. then Soccer…..then Big boys match….

    I might to run the bog Tuesday, it’s within my 5km radius or I might stick to my corona run. You know this corona run craic could go on for a while…..

    Happy days my Mayo Friends and here’s to running for Mayo again really soon…..

    Paula Donnellan Walsh, Contae Mhaigh Eo, "Plain of the yew trees", where else would you want to be! (May 3rd 2020)



  • Women in Sport Week 2021 - Day 3

    Celebrating Day 3 of Women in Sport Week

    Inspirational Mayo Women on Wednesday - Marian Mc Hugh

    A county council roads engineer who went from couch to 5K, is now combining her job with a love of running and walking after embarking on a life-changing journey back to fitness.

    As well as currently project managing the €250million N5 Westport to Turlough road project, Marian McHugh (58), a senior executive engineer at the National Roads Office at Mayo County Council, also oversaw work on the N59 Westport to Mulranny road, which incorporated work on the Great Western Greenway, from Westport to Achill.

    Previously annoyed about having to break into a run, Marian couldn’t wait to get her running shoes onto the Greenway.

    The mother of three adult children, who lives in Cong with her husband Ray, married shortly after finishing third-level and started a family. “Life took over then and exercise was not on my agenda,” said Marian. “By the time the kids had grown up and left, I felt there was nothing to get me out of the house. I was putting on the pounds.  I had an awful lot of weight on. I was tired, I could walk, but I couldn’t run.

    Read more about Marian HERE


    Inspirational Mayo Women - Louise Killeen 

    “My life is not the same as it was before, but it is better”

    A breast cancer survivor who founded a dragon boat club to provide an exercise outlet for other recovering women, says her experience ultimately changed her life for the better.

    Visitors to Lough Lannagh, on the edge of Castlebar, Co Mayo, can watch members of the Gráine Mhaol Dragon Boat Club paddling their 42-foot, 20-person boats with a drummer setting a pace on the bow.

    The paddling action helps prevent and alleviate the symptoms of lymphedema, a condition caused by removal or damage to lymph nodes as a part of cancer treatment.

    Club founder and lymphedema sufferer Louise Killeen (52) tells a compelling story of illness and the role of physical activity in her recovery. “I wanted to get it going because I could see it was needed. Everyone I asked to get involved was very keen to help,” said Louise.

    Read more about Louise HERE

  • Women in Sport Week 2021 - Day 4

    Women in Sport Stats 2020

  • Women in Sport Week 2021 - Day 5

    Today’s Women in Sport personality is Ann Sweeney, FAI Soccer Referee 


    Based in Castlebar originally from Currane, Achill 

    Whilst sitting at my desk in work some 10 years ago, I heard a female referee Paula Brady being interviewed on the Ray D’Arcy show talking about being a referee, so I decided there and then that’s something I’d love to do.  I always love watching any sport and Match of the Day was one of my favourite programmes so it made sense to me to act on it!. 

    I enquired with a person who was very involved in soccer and he told me who to contact.  As it turned out a referees course was starting the following week and I was reffing my first match within a month so it all took off from very quickly once I started!. 

    I started off reffing underage boy /girls matches for the first 3 / 4 to year up to under 17 years of age to gain vital experience.  The kids were all excited to see a female ref taking charge of their game lol!. 

    A few years later I got to meet the referee Paula Brady who inspired me to take up the whistle and got to say thank her so that was lovely as it’s nice to acknowledge those who have helped me along the ways!.  

    After that I started reffing men’s junior matches in the Mayo League and I’m told I made history doing so as no other female referee achieved this before.  I then was appointed to ref the McDonnell Cup final which I was delighted with it being my first big men’s final. 

    I found the players both male and female treated me with respect but I always say respect works both ways, as I would also respect them.  My fellow referees in our Mayo Branch ISRS have all being so supportive to me and always offering their valuable experience. 

    To be involved in referring within your county is amazing but to get to referee an international match a UEFA Women’s Under 16 Development tournament held in Mayo in 2017 between the Republic of Ireland Denmark was just such a great feeling so it proves if you put in the effort things do happen for you. 

    Following that I also ran the line for 3 men’s U16 Development Tournament involving the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, Faroe Islands and Kosovo which was also great to be involved at international level once again. 

    I got invited to the ladies national Gaynor Cup competition in UL, Limerick and was appointed to referee the Jeremey Dee Cup at both U16 and U14 ages which was also a great experience. 

    I have being assistant referee in the Super league in Mayo now for the last few years which is fast pace and exciting to watch. 

    I am also involved in being assistant referee for several Women’s National League games held all around the country from Galway to Wexford so that keeps me busy being on the road, women’s football is really taking off!. 

    Now having gained such experience last year I was appointed assistant referee in both a Connaught Men’s Final and also a men’s FAI National quarterfinal which was amazing to be involved in. 

    The pinnacle of my reffing career came just last December having being appointed assistant referee to the FAI Women’s Senior Cup Final in Tallaght Stadium, this was something I could only ever dream about but now amazingly has come true and so my journey continues 

  • Western People Women’s Mini Marathon

    Since its inauguration in 2010, the Mini-Marathon has grown to become one of the biggest events of its kind in the West of Ireland. Over the past ten years a combined 27,000 participants, including almost 5000 children, have taken part in the event. The Western People Women’s Mini Marathon has had an estimated value of over €2.5 million to the economy of Castlebar and has raised in excess of €1 million for its charity partners.

    The Mini-Marathon is open to girls and women of all ages and abilities, who wish to run, jog or walk the 10k route.

    Both Mayo County Council and the Mayo Sports Partnership are steadfast in their support of an increased level of participation in sport among girls and women of all ages. The physical, mental and social benefits of taking part in any and all kinds of sports are well-documented and the Mini-Marathon is one of the centre piece events of the county’s sporting calendar.

    As we enter a new decade and continue our celebration of 20x20 Women in Sport, we felt it only fitting that we give our event a bit of a makeover.  A fresh new look for a new decade!

    • Still the biggest women only 10KM event of its kind in the West of Ireland.
    • Still taking place on the Sunday of the May Bank Holiday – 3rd May 2020.
    • But will now host some exciting new changes, including ….New lead partner, new look, new route, new personalities, prizes and much more….

    For full information on the event click on the official web page link:

    Follow on Twitter and Facebook or Contact Mayo Sports Partnership at 094-9064360 or email

  • Women Over 40 Campaign 'Its My Time'

    Nov 2022

    Sport Ireland launches new campaign encouraging women over 40 to increase Physical Activity levels.

    Key findings:

    • Nearly half of all Irish women (49%) over the age of 40 do not prioritise physical exercise
    • Only 28% of women over 40 believe they meet the World Health Organisation’s recommended exercise guidelines of 30 minutes of exercise 5 days a week
    • The leading barriers to exercise are being too tired (64%), a lack of time (41%), a preference to do other things (36%) and injury or disability (31%)

    Sport Ireland, in partnership with Healthy Ireland, launched “It’s My Time”, a new campaign that aims to encourage women over 40 to increase activity levels through exercise and sport.

    See full campain details HERE

  • Women’s Try A Triathlon

    Women’s Try a Triathlon 2020 took place on March 22nd – Mother’s Day with over 65 Women partaking in the event. It consisted of a 300m swim in Lough Lannagh Swimming Pool, a 15k cycle on the Newport Road and a 4k run around Lough Lannagh.

    How it came to fruition?

    In November 2018 Mayo Sports Partnership came together with Triathlon Ireland to organise a Women’s Try a Tri for Mayo in 2019.

    With 4 established clubs in Mayo and another in the process of being registered with Triathlon Ireland, it was decided that all 5 clubs would be involved in the programme.

    After discussion with the clubs a programme was drawn up where the 3 main clubs in Mayo, Castlebar, Ballina and Westport would host the training for an eight-week period with two sessions delivered by Triathlon Ireland in Castlebar as this was the event location and the more central point for all clubs to travel to.

    The training programme was launched in Castlebar Library in partnership with Healthy Ireland at your Library.

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