The nominees for this year's RTÉ Sports Person of the Year were arguably as strong as ever. While any one of the eight put forward could have had a case, there were two names on the list that stood out from the rest.
Kellie Harrington and Rachael Blackmore had fantastic years in their respective sports. Harrington's Olympic gold medal resonated with the nation while Blackmore defied the odds in becoming a trailblazer in her sport.
The overarching theme throughout the list of nominees was how predominantly female it was. Six of the eight nominees were women who enjoyed a level of success deemed higher than their Irish sporting peers.
When it was all said and done, there could only be one. Rachael Blackmore took home the crown and rightfully so. She's had a monumental year in the saddle for any Irish jockey, male or female.
The Tipperary native was the first female jockey to win the Ruby Walsh trophy for leading jockey at Cheltenham, and she topped it all of with a win in the Champion Hurdle on board of Honeysuckle.
A month later, and she guided another Henry de Bromhead trained horse, Minella Times, to a 6 and a half lengths victory in the Grand National. She became the first female to win the historic race.
A humble Rachael Blackmore is left 'overwhelmed' after landing the RTÉ Sportsperson of the Year award for 2021. pic.twitter.com/SLJHK5dRCk
— RTÉ Sport (@RTEsport) December 18, 2021
"Look, it's incredible. The list of names of people that have won this award in the past. To be even on the list of people tonight. You'd be blown away on the year of sport that was. To be recognised like this it's just phenomenal," Blackmore said.
"It's been an incredible year for women in sport. We've seen over the last two hours with all the footage. Like it's just been incredible. I'm just a bit overwhelmed."
RTÉ's Joanne Cantwell then reassured Blackmore in feeling overwhelmed, making reference to her preference to stay out of the limelight as much as she could.
"I think that's the same across the board with all of us. We're in our sporting bubble and we're doing our job. This is your job I suppose, to get up and speak."
"As athletes and sportspeople, we're just trying to do the best we can in what we're good at. To be picking up awards like this is just incredible."
What does the future hold for Rachael Blackmore? She's recovered from a devastating fall in Killarney in July and seems to be back flying fit on the saddle. She'll only hope for close to a repetition of 2021's achievements.
"Try my best to take it day by day and continue to ride winners," Blackmore said.