It is a mark of the historic nature of Dublin’s five in a row that they have finally made it to the top of the charts in the annual Teneo Sport and Sponsorship Index conducted to gauge public sentiment looking back on 2019 and forward into 2020.
The Dublin footballers have hovered in fourth and fifth place throughout their reign, playing second fiddle to the Irish Men’s Rugby Team that have been voted Team of the Year in each of the last four years.
This year though they surged in respect across the country securing 25 per cent of the vote among 1,000 respondents in a nationally representative survey.
The Irish Women’s Hockey team came in a close second on the same rounded percentage with their Olympic qualification drama playing out just before the pollsters went to work in the last ten days of November.
Katie Taylor’s enduring appeal among Ireland’s public was evidenced by her emerging as the winner of the most admired athlete for the third year in a row, securing 25 per cent of the votes.
Conor McGregor who won out in 2016 and was second in 2017 was nowhere near the top six again this year.
Shane Lowry came in second on 10 per cent, with three Rugby players, Jonathan Sexton, Peter O’Mahoney and Rory Best all making the Top Six alongside Gary and Paul O’Donovan.
Teneo will be sharing deep-dive analysis of the findings in relation to the public’s sporting affections and thoughts on sponsorship at the Sport for business Sporting Year Ahead in January. They will be joined by key figures within the sporting and sponsorship stories that will dominate 2020.
Lowry did come out on top in the Most Memorable Moment of the Year poll with his walk up the 18th fairway at Royal Portrush selected by 30 per cent just ahead of Katie Taylor’s win to become a two-weight World Champion with 29 per cent.
Róisín Upton’s dramatic winning sudden-death penalty against Canada to send Ireland’s women’s hockey team to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics in third place on 9 per cent.
Gaelic Games holds on to its status as Ireland’s Favourite Sport for the second year on the bounce, having moved to the top of the charts for the first time ever in 2018.
Soccer had been the nation’s number one for eight years in succession from 2010 when the TSSI research was first carried out.
Gaelic Games (football, ladies, hurling and camogie) won 19 per cent support, just ahead of soccer (men’s and women’s) on 18 per cent, with rugby, (men’s and women’s), third on 13 per cent.
Swimming is on five per cent, a two percentage point jump in 12 months, and remains fourth while golf also picks up a percentage point to sit on 4 per cent, though dropping one place to fifth.
When it comes to sport that people “like”, but that isn’t necessarily their favourite sport, tennis with 19 per cent, golf on 18 per cent, athletics with 18 per cent and horse racing with 12 per cent all polled strongly.
The Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games is the sporting event the Irish public is most looking forward to next year with 22 per cent of votes, with Euro 2020 in second place on 17 per cent despite four games in the tournament being held at Dublin’s Aviva Stadium.
Rugby’s Guinness Six Nations is the next most anticipated event on 14 per cent with the All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship on 12 per cent and the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship on 9 per cent rounding out the top five.
“Wrapping up a rollercoaster year for Irish sport, the findings from Teneo Sport and Sponsorship Index confirm the central role and contribution that sport, our sports teams and athletes play in our culture and society,” said Rob Pearson, Director, Teneo Ireland.
“After four years of rugby dominance, a GAA side climbs back to the head of the Team of the Year category for the first time in six years, where they share the top spot. GAA sides typically struggle in nationally representative bodies of research but the Dublin’s footballers’ history-making five-in-a-row was recognised across the country as they were voted Team of the Year alongside Ireland’s women’s hockey team, who also made history by qualifying for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.”
“This isn’t the first time that a GAA team or a women’s team has topped the poll; in fact, in 2013 Clare’s All-Ireland winning hurlers and Ireland’s Grand Slam-winning women’s rugby team also shared the accolade.”
“Shane Lowry’s history-making Major win moves him into the realms of Irish sporting superstars and was voted the most memorable sporting moment of the year.”
“Katie Taylor’s popularity with the general public knows no bounds; every way you cut the data she is Ireland’s most admired sports star for the third year running. Katie’s continued excellence in the ring coupled with the Ireland women’s hockey side’s dramatic 2020 Olympic qualification and a record-breaking Ladies All Ireland Football and Camogie finals attendance numbers made for another very strong year for women’s sport.”
“As a nation, we are drawn to the global stage and 2020 is no different with Tokyo 2020 being the sports event that the nation is most looking forward. With qualification not guaranteed Euro 2020 sits in second place in the most looked forward to list followed by the annual Six Nations and ever-popular All Ireland Championships.”