The Irish Sport Industry Awards, in association with Financial Broker 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 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Alma Birbilaite

Marketing Manager, Indeed
Alma is a global marketer with a deep passion for fostering meaningful connections between brands and local communities. She spent the last 6 years working with Indeed’s Global Marketing team, where she spearheaded the award-winning Team Ireland sponsorship programme, developed a sponsorship evaluation platform and implemented an internal sponsorships program in Ireland. Alma is committed to empowering businesses and communities through impactful sponsorship initiatives that generate real-world benefits.

Brenda O’Donnell

Strategic Operations Manager, Active Disability Ireland

Brenda currently fills the role of Strategic Operations Manager in Active Disability Ireland and has been with the organisation for over seven 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.

My role within Active Disability Ireland is to support the development, implementation and positioning of the organizational strategy. Working across all staff members within Active Disability Ireland my role focuses on operational effectiveness, processes, stakeholders, etc. making sure to align with our organisational goals, national and governmental policies and resource allocation.

Patrick Murphy

Managing Director, Branding Sport

With a strong background in advertising and digital marketing, Patrick has specialised in providing creative services to the sports industry for the last 10 years. He has led creative and brand projects for the likes of Rory McIlroy, Leinster Rugby, The European Tour, the FAI, Horse Racing Ireland and Sport Ireland. With this experience, Patrick is also currently advising on a range of sport-related commercial, sponsorship and tourism projects. Patrick is also a Co-Founder at sustainability agency, Impact 3 Zero, and content marketing agency, Nudge. He was previously Ireland Country Manager at digital marketing agency, Tradedoubler, and Marketing Manager at Paddy Power. Patrick is an active participant in local sport as a member of Comeragh Cycling Club, De La Salle GAA Club and Tramore Golf Club.

Aisling Hubbard

Co-ordinator Wicklow Sports & Recreation Partnership at Wicklow County Council

Aisling Hubbard is a native of county Kildare and a graduate of South East Technological University, Waterford. Aisling has been the Coordinator in Wicklow Sports and Recreation Partnership since 2015. Prior to this, she gained a wealth of experience in her development roles with various National Governing Bodies of Sport, namely, the LGFA, Cycling Ireland and Basketball Ireland.

Aisling is also an active coach developer and assessor with Sport Ireland Coaching and the LGFA and a community volunteer. Aisling is passionate about making sustainable, long lasting changes to people’s opportunity to be physically active in a way they enjoy.