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.
That was some week that Emma Byrne put down. She is the most decorated Irish footballer in the history of the game with 127 caps for her country, twice voted Players Player of the Year by her peers in the English club game, an eleven time League title winner and with a EUFA Women’s Champions’ League Medal to add to the collection.
Her professional career spans nearly 20 years years and today she will take to the field as captain once more of the Republic of Ireland Women’s Senior Team.
All of that alone would merit a place on this list but in the wake of the stand for the right of the Women’s team to fair treatment from the FAI, her influence has moved up a significant amount.
As team captain she was to the fore in the call for better treatment that captured national and worldwide attention last week. Having enjoyed such an illustrious career she was probably the player least in need of the match payments and kit but that was immaterial.
Hers was the voice calling out the unfairness of the initial decision three years ago to remove the match payment, her career continued so perhaps that gave her the courage to lead the team off the field again and into the storm of publicity that ultimately helped to win the right result.
Her playing career has entered a new phase, leaving Arsenal in December and starting with Brighton and Hove Albion with a new coaching responsibility as well.
Byrnes is a regular pundit on Eurosport coverage of the Women’s game and studying for a career in media when she does hang up her boots.
Everything she has done in her career to date suggests that she will be a winner in that too.
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