Sport Ireland Winners, Losers and Hope

Sport is all about winners and losers. You cannot have one without another on the field of play and it felt that way in the corridors of power yesterday on a day when Sport Ireland revealed it’s grant allocation to 58 National Governing Bodies, the money being made available to athletes as individuals and a comprehensive review of the performance of the 14 sports who were represented at the Rio Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Underpinning the announcements though was the stark reality that this is a funding announcement for 2017 taking place in the fourth month of the year, and that the sum of money available to those National Governing bodies is almost to the cent the same as was there in the last post Olympic year of 2013.

There is no doubt that Sport Ireland’s leadership team is acutely aware of the challenges this presents. There is also no lacking of a willingness to fight for change from the Minister Patrick O’Donovan.

Indeed he has charged Sport Ireland with coming to him with workable proposals for a multi annual funding programme based on the best practice in place in other countries around the world.

John Treacy picked up the baton saying it would be with him within weeks and then the race will be on to get this into Government thinking for the next budget cycle.


There is plenty of precedent for the security and confidence that a multi year approach engenders and it is hoped that when we gather again for the spending plans in 2018 that there will be a better way.

It’s not that this is needed to forge ahead, it’s essential to stay in the game at all.

“Corporate Ireland needs to get behind investment in high performance sport and commercial models should be explored to make sports less fully reliant on state funding.”

We will look in detail at the Rio Review over the coming days, highlighting the recommendations put forward in facilitated discussion with sports from boxing to golf, cycling to horse sport and rowing and sailing to pentathlon.

The last three of those sports were among the winners from yesterday’s funding announcement. Sailing gets an additional €100,000 to support its high performance programme, moving it up to second place overall in the HP funding league table with a pot of €735,000 with which to build on Annalise Murphy’s medal win.

Rowing does even better, rising €125,000 to a figure of €525,000 for it’s high performance programme and getting a 30% increase in it’s Women in Sport funding as well.

Pentathlon Ireland gets an extra €30,000, nudging it above €250,000 to develop talent while Athletics, Swimming and Gymnastics are rewarded for their Olympic performance targets being met or exceeded with other rises.

Money Game

The losers in the money game for this year are boxing which is trimmed from €900,000 to €700,000, Rugby which is counting the cost of the Seven’s teams not qualifying for Rio and falling from €275,000 to €220,000 and triathlon Ireland which while excelling at the organisation level is suffering from a lower than hoped for pipeline of talent coming through.

Cycling Ireland remains on the same level for the programme but has raised the number of individuals getting funding to 14 and the sum going to them to €325,000.

16 athletes have been awarded the top level of €40,000 funding to enable them to develop with the prospect of achieving a podium finish at the highest level.

This breaks down to nine men and seven women, in keeping with the gender neutral approach to funding on ability that is particularly appropriate in 2017.

Rob Heffernan and Thomas Barr from athletics are at the top level, as are Joe Ward in Boxing, Colin Lynch, Eoghan Clifford, Katie George Dunlevy and Eve McCrystal or whoever her pilot might be for the year ahead in para cycling; Jason Smyth, Michael McKillop, Noelle Lenihan, Niamh McCarthy, Orla Barry and Ellen Keane from Paralympic athletics and swimming; Sanita Puspure, Gary and Paul O’Donovan from Rowing and Annalise Murphy from Sailing.

If you were to look for the Gold, Silver and Bronze to emerge over the next four years, that is where Sport Ireland suggests you turn your gaze.

In terms of the core funding it is as you were for 55 of the sporting bodies.  Basketball Ireland get’s an additional €10,000 towards the European Championships in August while Motor Cycle Ireland is awaiting an audit before its allocation can be signed off.

We will look in detail at the Rio Review recommendations over the coming days, starting tomorrow with Boxing but one overall recommendation stood out for us yesterday.

Corporate Ireland

“Corporate Ireland needs to get behind investment in high performance sport and commercial models should be explored to make sports less fully reliant on state funding.”

That is exactly what we will be exploring at Partners ’17 at the National Sports campus on Wednesday morning, April 26th.  Learn more and make sure you are there when sport and business get to know each other better.

Secure your place today at Partners ’17.  Only limited places remain.

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