The Irish Sport Industry Awards, in association with Clubforce will be decided by a highly experienced 10-person panel of industry experts. The panel will be chaired by Rob Hartnett, Founder and CEO of Sport for Business and comprise members of the sports sector from media, business, PR and local and national representative bodies.

For more details on the judging panel see below.

Rob Hartnett, Chair Judging Panel

Founder, CEO Sport for Business

Rob Hartnett is the Founder and CEO at 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 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, 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 Laohaire 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 in Dun Laoghaire Rathdown Volunteer Centre.

Nora Stapleton

Women in Sport Lead, Sport Ireland

Nora has over 15 years 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 knock out 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.

Ian Mallon

Sports Writer, The Pitch, Irish Examiner
Ian Mallon is writer of The Pitch, a new sports business column with the Irish Examiner and irishexaminer.com. He is also a contributor to a number of media organisations including Mailsport (Daily Mail UK) and the Irish Independent. Ian is a former Head of Content and Head of News with INM (Mediahuis Ireland) and a former (interim) editor of the Irish Independent. He has worked with a number of sporting federations, most recently as a strategy consultant with UEFA, across the organisation’s strategic business framework – GROW – and supported the in the production and development of UEFA’s overall business plan – Football Federations of the Future. He also worked as communications director with the Football Association of Ireland, working closely with media and commercial partners. Ian Mallon directed communications for the Rep of Ireland men’s team and management at EURO 2016 in France, and during the side’s FIFA World Cup 2018 qualification campaign. He is also a consultant and advisor to a number of clients in the area of sports business and communications strategy.

Jill Downey

Managing Director, Core Sponsorship
Jill is a director of Core, Ireland’s largest marketing communications company and set up its Sponsorship Practice as a specialist consultancy specialising in sponsorship strategy, valuation, measurement and return on investment for both sponsors and rights holders. Core Sponsorship work with many brands active in sport, including AIB and the GAA, SSE Airtricity and FAI, and Sky Ireland and the WNT. They also consult with both Tallaght Stadium and Dalymount Park in relation to their commercial rights and with all four rugby Provinces, Munster, Leinster, Connacht and Ulster to provide ongoing sponsorship performance metrics. Jill leads Core’s Diversity & Inclusion strategy and Core has recently been awarded Gold accreditation of Investors in Diversity, from the Irish Centre for Diversity, being only the 6th company in Ireland to achieve this standard. Jill is also a member of the Dublin Chamber of Commerce Council.

Warren Healy

Founder of Clubforce
Warren Healy founded Clubforce in Carna in Connemara in 2009. The software began its life as a pet technology project, a fundraising tool for Irish Diaspora to send money to their clubs back home. Over the years Warren has built Clubforce into an impressive technology business and network of clubs, sports associations, governing bodies as well as sport and technology leaders both in Ireland and Internationally. He has partnered with organisations like Connacht Rugby, Sport For Business, Federation of Irish Sport, more recently STATSports and Output Sports and created a technical integration with both the FAI and the GAA platforms. Warren led his team to raise €2.5 million in funding in February 2021 as well as receiving Enterprise Ireland backing for International expansion. Warren now assumes the role of Chief Product Officer at Clubforce where is he keenly focused on developing an all-in-one innovative solution for NGBs.

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.

Kevin Moore

Managing Director, Legacy Communications

Kevin is Managing Director of Legacy and has helped develop Legacy into an award-winning agency. With over 20 years’ communications experience, Kevin has helped brands deliver cutting-edge campaigns across almost all key industries and sectors.

As well as his role in developing Legacy from a company, culture and team perspective, he has led many successful campaigns for brands such Volkswagen, Glenisk, Littlewoods Ireland, Westport House, Laya Healthcare and Energia.

Specialising in brand and communications strategy, Kevin provides great counsel to brands of all sizes to help shape campaigns that go beyond awareness and create demand.