Sport for Business, in partnership with Liberty Insurance, has begun the publication of our annual list of the 50 Most Influential Women in Irish 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.
In an era of sport where broadcast rights command fees previously un heard of, and from broadcast giants across new media that did not exist ten years ago, the impact of the media on how sport is funded, consumed and imagined is second to none.
Dee Forbes became Director general of RTÉ in 2016 and has embarked on the most comprehensive review of what the broadcaster is, how it sees itself as part of Irish society and how we see it.
Sport is part of that review. Some of the old certainties are breaking down. TV3 won the right to broadcast the last Rugby World Cup, eir Sport has the rights to the 2019 edition. TV3 has also won away the rights to broadcast the Six Nations from next season, and in partnership with a new deal for British horse racing, was the channel through which the Cheltenham Festival and the Aintree grand National were seen in Ireland in recent weeks.
But RTÉ is still the network that delivers the most eyeballs and the sharpest cut through. Its combination of TV, Radio and online is attuned already to the different ways that new audiences are consuming content.
RTÉ’s wresting back exclusive radio rights and a long term package of TV and digital rights with the GAA for the next five years is underpinned by the ongoing partnership in terms of OTT streaming of games to overseas territories through the ground breaking GAAGo.
Dee Forbes knows and understand the importance of sport. She was a senior executive in Discovery when they signed a €1.3 Billion deal to bring Olympics coverage away from the European Broadcasting Union. She is a passionate fan of Munster Rugby and has been involved on the commercial board for that organisation.
Sport through individuals like Ryle Nugent and Cliona O’Leary will need to ‘Stand up and Fight’ to make sure of its importance within the new future that Forbes is creating at RTÉ. But if it does it will be given a fair hearing.
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