The award recognises the significant contribution he has made throughout his career, especially in his role as Commercial Director of the GAA and Stadium Director of Croke Park, a role he has filled since 2001.
Born in Newtown Cashel, a small village on the shores of Lough Ree, McKenna has always been proud of his Longford Roots and took particular pleasure in back to back Allianz National League Division Four and Three Football Titles in 2013 and 2014.
His formal education culminated in a degree in Chemical Engineering from UCD from where he joined the Smurfit graduate training programme.
He was appointed Chief Executive Officer of the Smurfit Communications group in 1994 and held that position until he joined the GAA in 2001.
During his tenure as CEO of the Smurfit Communications group, McKenna turned the business from a loss-making publishing company to a highly profitable, industry-leading, communications company.
He was responsible for the launch of a new media division, as well as an award-winning direct marketing joint venture. Over this time the publishing group emerged as Ireland’s leading consumer-publishing house and was ranked in the top 10 contract publishers in Ireland and the UK.
In 2001, he was appointed as the Stadium Director of Croke Park.
The Stadium was still in the midst of its transformation into the magnificent venue it is today. In 2003 he oversaw the Opening Ceremony of the Special Olympic Games and under his stewardship, the venue has hosted U2, The Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen and a host of the world’s biggest music events.
It has produced a strong financial dividend for the Association every year and is recognised as one of the best sporting and concert venues in the world.
In 2012, McKenna’s role was expanded to include national sponsorship, media rights and overall marketing of the GAA.
Commercial revenues under his remit account for over 45 per cent of the GAA’s annual revenues.
In addition to his work with the GAA, McKenna is a Director of Fire Station Artists Studio, a Director of the GAA Museum and on the advisory board of the national Anti-Bullying Council.
He has been a long-time supporter and friend of Sport for Business and the award is a fine recognition for a man who has changed the very nature of how sport and business interact within an Irish context.
Image credit: Morgan Treacy, Inpho.ie