Sport for Business, in partnership with Liberty Insurance, today begins the publication of our annual list of the 50 Most Influential Women in Irish Sport.
For 2017 we are extending the recognition given to women who are taking a lead role in sport by also identifying 50 of the next generation that are coming through, at pace, to make their mark within sport.
This is not about Women’s sport, it is about the influence that women are wielding across all sport. We will identify leaders on and off the field of play. They will include those who are role models in terms of their abilities on and off the field of play. They will come from teams and individual sports, from sponsorship partners, from the media, from the administrative corridors of power and from places where influence may be subtle but no less powerful.
There are those who stand out as obvious candidates and others who you may be meeting for the first time. The one common thread among our two groups of 50 women is that they care about sport and are using their intelligence, insight and powers of innovation to make sport relevant to all.
Age should never be a barrier to ambition and trying something new should never be a step too far.
Jessica Harrington has lived up to both of those maxims throughout her career as a racehorse trainer and has doubled down in 2017 at the age of 70.
She needed one winner at this year’s Cheltenham Festival to become the most successful woman trainer of all time at the ‘World Cup’ of her sport.
She secured that in the biggest race of them all with Sizing John in the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup. It completed a full house of the Champion Hurdle with Jezki (2014) and the Champion Chase with Moscow Flyer (2003 and 2005).
Sizing John was her first time entering a horse in the race so her eye for talent is focused not only on those she think will win but also on those for whom the biggest prizes might be tilting at windmills.
Racing is one of the few sports where men and women compete against each other both in the saddle and in the management of horse as trainers.
Harrington has scaled the ultimate height in the latter having previously represented Ireland as a three day eventer at World Championships and Olympic Games.
Mary Davis, Special Olympics
Sonia O’Sullivan, Olympian
Sinead Galvin, Galvin Sports Management
Louise Kidd, AIG Insurance
Ellen Keane, Paralympian
Siobhan Earley, Gaelic Players Association
Maeve Buckley, Line Up Sports
Suzanne Eade, Horse Racing Ireland
Sinead Heraty, Irish Ladies Golf Union
Sinead Kissane, Journalist at TV3
Irene Gowing and Sorcha Fennell Sheehan, Bord Gais Energy
Jo Donnellan, Sponsorship Manager at Heineken
Elaine Carey, Chief Commercial Officer Three Ireland
Sarah O’Connor, Head of Sport at Wilson Hartnell
Georgina Drumm, President at Athletics Ireland
Sue Ronan, Head of Women’s Football at FAI
Fiona Hampton, Head of Sales and Marketing at Ulster Rugby
Karen Campion, Head of Business Partnerships at FAI
Miriam Malone, CEO at Paralympics Ireland
Cliona Foley, Journalist
Cliona O’Leary, Head of TV Sport at RTÉ
Edel McCarthy, Sponsorship Manager Electric Ireland
Lisa Browne, Head of Marketing Electric Ireland
Sarah O’Shea, Honorary General Secretary at Olympic Council of Ireland
Helen O’Rourke, CEO at Ladies Gaelic Football Association
Kelli O’Keefe, Teneo PSG
Jennifer Gleeson, Sponsorship Manager at Diageo
Mary O’Connor, CEO Federation of Irish Sport
Carol McMahon, Ulster Bank
Deirdre Ashe, Liberty Insurance
Sian Gray, Head of Marketing at Lidl
Roisin Glynn, Social media Manager at AIB
Michelle Tanner, Head of Sport at Trinity College
Gemma Bell, Sponsorship Manager at Bank of Ireland
Tracey Kennedy, Chair Cork County GAA Board
Katie Taylor, World Champion Boxer
Joy Neville, Referee
Niamh O’Donoghue, FAI Board Member
Joan O’Flynn, CEO Camogie Association
Lindsay Peat, Rugby Player
Annalise Murphy, Olympian Sailor
Dee Forbes, Director General at RTÉ
Emma Byrne, Footballer
Fiona Coghlan, Grand Slam Rugby Winning Captain
Dr Una May, Head of Participation at Sport Ireland
Anne O’Leary, CEO of Vodafone
Cora Staunton, Ladies Gaelic Footballer
Sarah Keane, President Olympic Council of Ireland
Jessica Harrington, racehorse trainer and Irish Times Sportswoman of 2017