Derval O’Rourke has her fingers crossed that Ireland's recent underage athletics medal success helps encourage more girls to take up the sport.

Ireland’s female athletes took five medals at two recent championships to raise hopes of a bright future in track and field.

O’Rourke was in Tampere, Finland for the World Under-20 Athletics Championships where Ireland won silver in both high jump and 4x100m relay.

Just days previously, three gold medals and a silver were brought home from the European Under-18s in Hungary.

"It has been outstanding. I competed at this level many years ago and I didn’t get near a final, let alone a medal so it has been fantastic to see what the young Irish have been able to do," said the former indoor 60m hurdle world champion.

"It really is an incredibly deep standard at world Under-20 level. It’s a big step to go from Under-18 to Under-20 and then on to senior level – we’d always that Under-18 show a bit of talent and Under-20 is really making a statement if you can do well.

"We’ve never really had the talent performing at the same time across a diverse range of events – that’s quite new for us and amazing to see," said O’Rourke, speaking to RTÉ Sport.

At Under-20 level Sommer Leky came second in the high jump while the women’s 4x100m relay squad of Molly Scott, Gina Akpe-Moses, Ciara Neville and Patience Jumbo-Gula also finished second. Rhasidat Adeleke was also part of the relay squad, running in the heats.

Adeleke won Under-18 European gold at 200m and was joined on the top step of the podium by Sarah Healy, who finished first in both 1,500m and 3,000m, with Sophie O’Sullivan claiming 800m silver.

O'Rourke in action at the London 2012 Olympic Games

O’Rouke said: "Athletics is a great sport because there is such a range of events in it.

"In particular, with women in sports, and I know there is a lot of talk about women in sport at the moment, it’s one of the few sports that offers women a genuine global opportunity to get to a really, really high level.

"It’s massive to me, massive to see all these girls out there doing well. I really believe as a sport there are huge opportunities and hopefully people get on board and support these girls now."

O’Rouke got to see the Under-20 wins first hand as she was part of the official commentary team for the IAAF’s – athletics’ world governing body – broadcasts.