The stars shone and the conversation crackled last night as the sports sector gathered in Dublin’s Westin Hotel for the revival of the Irish Sport Industry Awards.
It was the largest gathering of friends and colleagues that we have been able to enjoy in over two years and a great call by the Federation of Irish Sport, supported by Clubforce, to make it happen.
Sport is always about teamwork and the effort and energy that went into this evening and the awards were rewarded by the delight of the nominees to be there and the thrill of the winners as they were named.
Having chaired a judging panel that was detailed in its research and strong in its conviction I can vouch for the fact that this was an incredibly strong year of submissions and potential winners.
Everyone that made a shortlist was a winner in what they have done across sport but given that sport is competitive we had to pick winners and it was they who were called to the stage by host Gráinne McElwain last night, in front of special guest Minister of State Jack Chambers and 150 guests from across the leadership of sport and business.
The coveted award for National Governing Body of the Year went to Volleyball Ireland.
The sport has made significant developments in its commitment to increasing participation and diversity in growing the game.
The other shortlisted NGB’s were Vision Sports Ireland, Canoeing Ireland, Special Olympics Ireland, Badminton Ireland and the Irish Sailing Association.
The winner of the Outstanding Contribution to Irish Sport for 2022 is JP McManus whose sporting altruism he has overseen the JP McManus Scholarship Programme, with over 1,500 students gaining college scholarships so far, many of them from sporting backgrounds in order to help them achieve their sporting as well as their academic ambitions.
The Jimmy Magee Sports Journalist of the Year Award was presented to RTÉ Broadcaster and Author Jacqui Hurley for her work in the area of sports broadcasting, and for pioneering the work of getting female athletes getting the respect and recognition they deserve.
The Best Sports Sponsorship of the Year was awarded to SKY Ireland and the FAI for their partnership in support of the Republic of Ireland Women’s National Team. It was the first award of many it will undoubtedly receive and Neal Cummins and Orlagh Ní Chorcorain were there to collect the prize.
They edged out strong opposition from AIG’s Effort is Equal campaign, Energia’s All Ireland League sponsorship, Indeed Ireland’s partnership with Team Ireland at the Tokyo Olympic Games, Gala retails partnership with Special Olympics Ireland and Spar’s with Kellie Harrington.
The Best Sports Business of the Year went to StatSports for the work they have done from their Newry base in building a global brand in sports technology.
Glofox, the Cycle Superstore, Bohemian FC and Lifestyle Sports were also nominated.
The Best New Sports Business of the Year was awarded to Moby Bikes who are transforming the accessibility of sustainable transport through their ebike schemes in Dublin, Athlone and Mullingar with more to come.
Output Sports, Emma Larkin Books and Score Beo were also nominated in this category.
The Best Use of a Communications Platform in Sport was awarded to Niamh Tallon and the team at HerSport edging out the brilliant campaigns that the IRFU ran with TikTok, AIG on Show Your Skills, Gymnastics Ireland and Paralympics Ireland at the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games and the FAI for its No Ref, No Game campaign.
The Local Sports Partnership of the Year went to Sligo ahead of their colleagues in this important space from Clare, Donegal, Laois Longford and the Dublin City Sports and Wellbeing Partnership.
The hotly contested Best Initiative to Promote Women in Sport and Physical Activity was won by Swim Ireland, Lisa Clancy and Sarah O’Shea for their impressive and impactful Women in Sport Leadership Programme.
The others shortlisted for this award were Rowing Ireland’s Women on the Water Programme, Athletics Ireland’s Forerunners Programme, Banbridge Rugby Football Club Development of women and girls’ rugby, the Irish Wheelchair Association 4-year Women in Sport Strategy
and Ladies Gaelic Football Association Learn to Lead Programme.
Finally, the Best Initiative to promote Inclusivity in Sport and Physical Activity was presented, to obvious delight, to the Sanctuary Runners just ahead of initiatives from Basketball Ireland, the FAI, the GAA, Sporting Pride and the Donegal Sports Partnership.
It was great to be back together again and humbling to reward such powerful campaigns and organisations with the recognition they deserve. A night to remember.
Rob Hartnett, Sport for Business