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
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