Women in Sport 2017 – Dr Una May

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.

Dr Una May

May is the highest ranking executive within Sport Ireland with a role that covers two of the areas where sport is facing major challenges and grasping significant opportunities . As Director of Participation and Ethics it falls to her to take responsibility for the maintenance of a clean approach to sport and also to ensure as many people as possible are participating in sport in all its forms.

She is central in the latter role to the wider reach of sport and activity into the health and education areas of Irish society where the impact of sport on everyday lives can be most keenly felt.

She is also on the front line of anti-doping and leading Ireland to the fore of European activity in clamping down on cheating.

The scale of that challenge is immense and the recent publication of the 2016 Anti Doping Report alongside a survey of athletes into their knowledge and perception of doping shows there is still a long way to go.

May is also conscious of the role of money and business in developing sport.

Speaking to Sport for Business last year in the wake of Russian doping allegations May showed a good appreciation of the complexities of business, reputation and integrity.

“A company’s brand is everything. Any sensible (or sensitive) brand needs to be conscious at all times of the risks to reputation and customer trust when an inappropriate association is established.”

“Some companies appear to be less concerned about this than others and perhaps the scale and worldwide reach of a brand allows for some relaxation of the need to demonstrate the highest level of integrity, not just within their own governance and practices but within their partnerships.”

“However, on the whole, brands need to protect themselves against the reputational damage caused by being seen to be associated with poor practice.”

In what remains a male dominated world of sports administration May has been an effective example that skill and competence are defined by an individual, not by their gender.

Mary Davis, Special Olympics

Sonia O’Sullivan, Olympian

Sinead Galvin, Galvin Sports Management

Evanne Ní Chuillin, Joanne Cantwell and Jacqui Hurley, RTÉ

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

Similar Articles