Today we are naming the first five of the judges who will be determining this year’s Irish Sport Industry Awards.

Nominations are open until April 25th in the six categories that are open to public nomination.

Make a submission here today.

These are for Best Sports Sponsorship; Best Use of Communications; Best Initiative to promote Women in Sport; Best Initiative to Promote Inclusion in Sport; Best National Governing Body of the Year and Best Local Sports Partnership of the Year.

The other four Awards will be chosen by the judging panel from a shortlist drawn up by a Nominations Committee.  These are for Best Sports Business and Best New Sports Business of the Year; the Jimmy Magee Awards for Best Sports Journalist of the Year and the Award for Outstanding Contribution.

The Judges are drawn from across the sports industry and will be chaired by our own Rob Hartnett.



Rob Hartnett, Chair Judging Panel
Founder, CEO Sport for Business

Rob Hartnett is the Founder and CEO of Sport for Business, the collective group linking together Ireland’s sporting organisations with the country’s biggest brands through a blend of daily commentary and analysis, networking and events.

He is a regular contributor on the Business of Sport in mainstream media, a columnist in Business Plus, Chairman of the Dublin City Council Sport and Wellbeing Partnership and a member of the recently created OFI Gender Equality Commission.

Sport for Business was the winner of the Best Emerging Business at the Sport Industry Awards in 2016 and in was Chair of the judging panel in 2019.


Maeve Buckley
Leading Sport

Maeve has had an impact on the sports sponsorship industry over a long period and has worked with iconic teams and major projects such as Ryder Cup, FC Barcelona, Real Madrid, and Liverpool FC. She has a deep understanding of the European and Irish sport industry and works on strategic development with national governing bodies and European/international federations.

Maeve was previously a Board Member of the National Sports Campus and was voted one of the Most Influential Women in Sport. She holds an MBA from the Instituto de Empresa in Madrid and has a BA (Hons) degree from UCC.


Shane McArdle
Coordinator, Dun Laoghaire Rathdown Sports Partnership

A graduate of both DIT Cathal Brugha Street and Smurfit Business School, Shane has been working in the sports and leisure industry for over 23 years in a variety of roles and sectors. His previous roles include those in the fitness industry, leisure consultancy and sports facility management.

Having taken the role of Coordinator in Dun Laoghaire Rathdown Sports Partnership in 2008, he now collaborates with a range of partner organisations to increase participation in sport and physical activity across all age groups and abilities in the County. While a large proportion of his time would be spent in leadership and planning, he is also heavily involved in managing a range of events and initiatives around getting people out and active in whatever form that takes. Shane is also a long-standing Director at Dun Laoghaire Rathdown Volunteer Centre.


Nora Stapleton
Women in Sport Lead, Sport Ireland

Nora has over 15 years of working in sport and is the Women in Sport Lead with Sport Ireland where she oversees the implementation of the Women In Sport Policy. This policy aims to increase female involvement across all areas of sport, from participation to visibility, coaching and officiating to leadership and governance. Prior to this, Nora worked for 6 years as a GAA Games Promotional Officer in Dublin before joining the IRFU in 2013 as the Women’s and Girls Development Manager.

On the field, Nora played Intercounty Gaelic Football for Donegal winning two All-Ireland medals (2003 and 2010). She has national titles in soccer with UCD and competed in the UEFA knockout stages with them three years in a row. In 2017 she retired from International Rugby with 50 caps and participated in three Women’s Rugby World Cups. She was also selected to play on the first-ever Women’s Barbarian team in 2017.


Niamh Daffy
CEO Cara Sport Inclusion Ireland

Having worked in the Disability/Disability Sport sector for over 19 years, Niamh continues to explore ways in which she can lead, advocate and support increased access and awareness for people with disabilities to participate fully in sport and physical activity opportunities throughout Ireland.

As the sole staff member in Cara Sport Inclusion Ireland when it was first established in 2007, Niamh has grown with the organisation and now 15 years later, with a Masters in Disability Sport Leadership, works alongside a wonderful team who together with their partners have developed Cara to become a nationally and internationally recognised lead agency with a focus of putting disability sport and inclusive physical activity at the heart of our nation.


The remaining judges will be revealed over the course of the coming days…