RTÉ Sport hosted a special event this morning for those within the sporting, media and marketing sectors as a celebration of the summer past and a look ahead to the autumn and winter future.

Introduced by Director General Dee Forbes who spoke of “the treasured place in our hearts and minds held by local and national sport,” it was a reminder of the importance of having the ability to turn on and see great sporting achievement and to be inspired.

We were treated to a number of wonderful montage videos which, if rights allow, we will bring to you in the coming days.

They painted in vivid colour the wins and losses from Tokyo to Tralee and Croke Park to Wembley, the tears of joy and frustration shed by Kellie Harrington and Sarah Healy.

Jacqui Hurley interviewed Rachael Blackmore, Nicole Turner, Aifric Keogh and Donal Lenihan about what they had enjoyed and what they were looking forward to.

We also heard from Group Head of Sport Declan McBennett who gave us the numbers on how sport had reached us and touched us over the summer.

“We witnessed possibly the greatest half of hurling ever produced, we watched as Killian Mbappe felt the weight of expectation on his shoulders as the eyes of the world watched on when football went home but home to Rome, we turned into experts on each Olympic discipline as suddenly we all knew or felt we knew that there was a little over-rotation on the triple summersault with pike and we simply marvelled at the exploits of those involved on every level with the Paralympics.”

“Rarely if ever have we seen such honesty of effort and raw emotion as so many sought to overcome, conquer and dismiss disabilities that would see many of us crumble. And all of that effort, and all of that sacrifice, did not go unnoticed by our audience. Paralympics coverage on RTÉ2 ( &+1) had a total reach of 1.52 million. Sport on RTÉ Television overall reached over 3.5 million people in the summer of 2021.”

In Awe of na Mná

“One startling yet inspiring narrative emerged throughout the summer – “In awe of na mná”, the sporting women of Ireland told the rest of us to step up or step aside in their pursuit of everything that they now sought, demanded and deserved. In no particular order, Leona Maguire, Katie George Dunleavy, Eve McCrystal, Nicole Turner, Rachael Blackmore, Kellie Harrington, Katie Taylor, Ellen Keane, Aifric and her three colleagues in the rowing and many many more stepped forth into parades rings and podiums and took their rightful place as champions, winners and warriors. We truly salute you all.”

“It is in no way to take away from the exploits of our male rowers or boxers, from Jason Smyth or Declan Hannon or Padraig Hampsey and their teammates but this has truly being a remarkable year for Irish sportswomen.”

“Kellie’s gold medal peaked at 193k with a 78% share of girls aged 4-14, who could not have been anything other than inspired.
The 3 main news bulletins on that day had a total reach of 949 thousand people.”

“Sports coverage is not just about the level of the audience, but also the legacy it leaves behind. And the greater level of engagement, and sense of inclusion of women, both on-air, behind the scenes, and watching at home is to be greatly welcomed.”

“GAA Championship across codes reached 2.66 million people during the summer of 2021. The audience for the All Ireland Hurling Final between Limerick and Cork with 774,000 viewers and 70.5 per cent share was 56 per cent male, 44% female.”

“The audience profile split for Mayo v Dublin was 50 per cent male, 50 per cent female.”

Pride of Place

“This summer has shown the pride in pride of place – our Olympic medals stretched across the four proud provinces of Ireland, Ballyconnell in Co Cavan reverberated in US golfing circles, Killenaule gained international recognition as the place whereby the best female jockey simply became the best jockey, Skibbereen became the rowing capital of what they like to call the real capital and Portland Row became the epicentre of everything good about the summer as gold shone brightly from inner-city Dublin. Even covid could not quell the Irish summer of sport.”

“2.6 million people were reached on RTÉ2 ( &+1) during coverage of the Olympics.”

“That’s not just about excellence, it’s about the pride of seeing your country represented on the global stage, the best of who we are, our potential, our ambition.”

“And yet the beauty of sport is that the wheels keep turning and just as we have the heroes and heroines of 2021 to date there are more stories to be told and chapters to be written. Will Beibhinn Parsons add her name to that illustrious roll call of women who lit up the Irish sporting landscape, can the hockey team make another world cup, what is to be for Stephen Kenny and what of the provinces as they scrum down with the best South Africa, Italy, Wales and Scotland have to offer.”

“To those of you in coaching, administration and management who join us today, may I on behalf of RTE Sport and RTE as an entity in itself, at the heart of Irish life, express our genuine and heartfelt gratitude to you for working with us to bring so many special moments to air on television radio and digital. The moments we witness are years in the planning and the execution. They do not happen by accident, they are subject to the rigours of training and injuries and preparation, physical and mental and they are the culmination of thousands of hours of work as well as the blood sweat and tears.”

“For those tears but also for the many many smiles and sense of joy that you all brought us this summer we are truly grateful and we can only hope and pray for many more over the next 100 days that will draw down the curtain on a truly remarkable sporting year.”


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