Sporting Numbers Revealed Today

john-treacy-and-patrick-odonovanSport Ireland and Minister of State Patrick O’Donovan will be side by side today launching the latest edition of the Irish Sports Monitor, a bi-annual review of the sports we play and the trends within Irish sport.

It is an important piece of work, surveying nearly 10,000 people over a period of time to account for seasonal differences and what emerges will be pored over by governing bodies, those implementing the National Physical Activity Plan, local authorities and schools.

Read our views on the current war of words between sport and Government

Sport for Business will be there to cover the important points and bring you a detailed review tomorrow.


By way of reference we thought it would be interesting to look back on what was revealed two years ago, the latest rendition of the report…

This is the list of the top ten most popular sporting activities from 2013

  • Exercise 12.2%
  • Swimming 9.4%
  • Running 8.5%
  • Cycling 5.9%
  • Soccer 5.9%
  • Dancing 4.3%
  • GAA 4.0%
  • Golf 3.3%
  • Weights 2.9%
  • Rugby 1.4%

Exercise had increase from 10.9% when the survey was previously completed in 2011 and from 7.3% in the first wave of similar research carried out in 2007.

Swimming had dipped back over the two years between 2011 and 2013 from 9.7% to 9.4% but remained well ahead of the 6.7% it scored in 2007.


Running had been one of the big winners of that last round climbing from 6.1% in 2011 to 8.5% and closing fast on swimming in 2013.

Cycling is another to have shown big growth over the first six years of research, from 2.5% in 2007 to 5.9% in 2013 and this does not include those who are cycling to work as opposed to for sport and fitness.

Team sports had shown more stable growth with gaelic football participation growing slightly in the last report and hurling falling back.


Rugby remained low in terms of participation, especially given the success of the provinces and the national team over the period. There was growth from 1.1% to 1.4% in 2013 but that is still below the 1.5% of the population that played in 2008. It will be interesting to see whether that has changed.

Figures for tag rugby and five a side soccer are included in the respective numbers and that is perfectly valid.

The most worrying decline among the major sports was in golf where participation numbers had fallen from 5.2% in 2007 to 3.3% in 2013. The impact of the recession was fully felt over that period and that’s one sport the will be looking for a bounce back.

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