The Irish Sport Industry Awards will be decided by a highly experienced 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.

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 was Chair of the judging panel in 2019, 2022 and 2023.

Jill Downey

Chief Sustainability and Sponsorship Officer, Core 

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 the Chair of the Federation of Irish Sport’s Commercial and Communications Committee and she is also a member of the Dublin Chamber of Commerce Council.

Ciarán Medlar

Head of Sports Advisory Unit, BDO Ireland

In 2003, he established the dedicated BDO Sports Advisory Unit which, over the last 20 years, has become the clear industry leader in the sector currently advising more than 90 professional sports clients on their commercial, contractual and financial affairs.BDO was the first Irish professional services firm to have a dedicated Sports Unit. The main sports he is active in are rugby, football, golf and boxing and he works with many of
Ireland’s elite sportspeople including, premiership footballers, professional golfers, international rugby players & Olympic athletes. He contributes regularly to print & broadcast media on sports’ business matters. Separately, he is Chairman of Shamrock Rovers Football Club

Brenda O’Donnell

CEO, Active Disability Ireland
Brenda currently fills the role of CEO in active Disability Ireland and has been with the
organisation for over eight years.

Brenda has always worked and being involved in disability sport and physical activity, creating equal sporting and recreational opportunities for individuals with disabilities. She is a graduate from the Institute of Technology Tralee, (now Munster Technological University) and in 2001 graduated with a BSc in Health, Fitness and Leisure Studies. Through her role Brenda aims to increase the profile of Active Disability Ireland, building on the strong foundations and its vital partnerships across the sport, disability, health and community sectors. She promises to continue the strong connections and relationships that have been established over the years with all of Active Disability Ireland’s funding and supporting partners.

Working closely with all team members within Active Disability Ireland her role will focus on operational effectiveness aligned to the organisations strategy, continued leadership through example under good governance, continued Influencing and challenge of local and national policy and strengthened support of the creation of choice and opportunity through direct
engagement with people with disabilities.

Stephen Bradshaw

Head of Marketing, Close Brothers Motor Finance

With more than two decades experience in marketing, Stephen has collaborated with some of Ireland’s foremost brands and organisations to develop and implement impactful sponsorship campaigns. He has provided consultation to a wide range of sports governing bodies, sporting organisations, and brands within the sports sector. With a unique perspective gained from both agency and client-side roles, Stephen offers a wealth of industry knowledge and expertise.

Hannah Craig

Women in Sport Manager, Sport Ireland

Hannah became Ireland’s first female Olympic finalist in the sport of canoeing at the 2012 London Games. With a 20-year span from first international start line to last and 2 children along the way, Hannah Craig is a fast-thinking resourceful and creative solution-finder with global lived experience. She has a proven capacity to design and project manage innovative programmes with an objective of improving the sporting landscape for all. Hannah has strong leadership skills honed over years as a performance athlete, coach, ambassador, and mentor. Highly effective at imparting successful strategies for sports systems, education, team collaborating and personal achievement. Hannah has a passion for human performance, the great outdoors and positive social change and has recently joined Sport Ireland in a new role as Women in Sport Manager.

Maeve Buckley

Founder and Managing Director at Leading Sport

Maeve has a deep understanding of the European sport industry and the most successful initiatives happening across that landscape, and has worked with iconic teams, organisations and major events such as Ryder Cup, FC Barcelona, Real Madrid, Liverpool FC, Man City, Arsenal and UEFA. Maeve specialises in advisory services and project management to governing bodies and federations, city and national authorities, as well as the development and commercialisation of international sports events. Maeve specialises in women’s sport and performance sport and has worked with FIFA, Sport Ireland and the IRFU amongst others. Maeve is a Board Member of the Federation of Irish Sport and was voted one of the Most Influential Women in Sport in 2014-2019 (sportforbusiness.com). She previously worked in international marketing roles with Orange, Salvatore Ferragamo and Bord Bia, based in Amsterdam, Milan and Madrid. She holds an MBA from the Instituto de Empresa in Madrid and has a BA (Hons) degree from University College Cork, and speaks French, German, Italian and Spanish.

Mary McGuire

Head of Sponsorship at Legacy Communications

Mary McGuire is Head of Sponsorship at Legacy Communications and has worked in the business of sport in both Ireland and Australia. Mary leads the team in Legacy on a range of Sports Sponsorship and wider sports communication strategy across a plethora of sports from athletics, paralympics, rugby, GAA and much more.

Brian Staunton

NGB Support Unit Manager with Sport Ireland

Brian is the NGB Support Unit Manager with Sport Ireland. With over 10 years’ experience in the sports sector, Brian is currently responsible for the management, development and administration of various programmes that support the diverse NGB sector across Ireland. Brian is a graduate from Waterford IT (now South East Technological University) with a degree in Recreation and Sport Management and a Masters in Sport and Exercise Psychology and has previously worked in the Sport Ireland Outdoor and Participation Units, supporting the national network of 29 Local Sports Partnerships.

Catherine Tiernan

Commercial Director of the Olympic Federation of Ireland

Catherine Tiernan is the Commercial Director of the Olympic Federation of Ireland. Catherine previously owned her own mobile phone company creating a nationwide network of 26 telecommunication stores employing 120 staff which were subsequently acquired by O2. In 1996 Catherine won young Businesswoman of the year. She then went on to work in the area of Commercial Sponsorships, National /International contract negotiations and strategic planning. Over 30 years’ experience serving the Corporate sector including working with O2, the GAA, the FAI, the European Tour and IRFU. Catherine is an accredited commercial and civil mediator. Catherine prides herself on always going the extra mile to achieve results for her clients and team.