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Three in a row – Katie Taylor remains Ireland’s most admired sports star

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Katie Taylor may have been pipped to the RTE Sports Person of the Year award by Shane Lowry on Saturday gone and beaten by the golfer by just 1% in Ireland’s most Memorable Sporting Moment of the Year.

Yet no one came close to knocking the Irish boxer off her perch as Ireland’s most admired sports star.

Taylor remains Ireland’s Most Admired Sports Star for the third year in succession with 25% of votes in the Teneo Sport and Sponsorship Index (TSSI) 2019, which were released today.

The Bray fighter finished well ahead of Shane Lowry on 10% with Jonathan Sexton in third on 6%.

Taylor makes it a three in-a-row of wins in Ireland’s most Admired Sport Star category, holding on to the title she took in 2017 and 2018. In fact, it’s the fifth time in seven years that she has topped this particular poll, the only other winners in that time are the now-retired former Ireland rugby captain Paul O’Connell in 2015 and MMA fighter Conor McGregor in 2016. McGregor took 16% of votes three years ago but interestingly his support collapsed to just 2% in 2019.

Taylor is a clear winner with a quarter of the votes, well ahead of second placed Shane Lowry on 10% and her popularity with the general public remains enduring.

Irish rugby didn’t hit the highs of 2018, yet this didn’t stop Jonathan Sexton coming third on 6%, with Munster captain Peter O’Mahony and recently retired Ireland skipper Rory Best sharing joint fourth on 5% alongside rowing brothers Gary and Paul O’Donovan. Dublin’s Stephen Cluxton is the highest ranked GAA player on 3%.

Taylor also came close to collecting the Most Memorable Sports Moment of the Year award, only to lose out by a single percent to Lowry.

Lowry pipped Taylor as his first Major win was backed by 30% of respondents, with the Bray boxer on 29% for her achievement of becoming a two-weight world champion.

These were by far and away Ireland’s greatest sporting achievements according to the general public, with 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%. Two hurling moments round out the top five – Wexford winning a rare Leinster title (6%) and Tipperary’s Séamus Callanan’s vital goal in the All-Ireland final win over Kilkenny (5%).

The TSSI is a comprehensive 1,000 person nationally representative survey with quotas imposed across gender, region, age and social class. The research was carried out by Teneo’s Sports and Sponsorship team and iReach and examines the Irish general public’s attitudes towards sport and their sporting heroes. This is the view of the general public and not a survey of sports fans. It is the tenth year of the TSSI and the research was carried out between November 19th and November 29th.

Interestingly boxing doesn’t appear in the list of people’s favourite sport.

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% support, just ahead of soccer (men and women’s) on 18%, with rugby, (men’s and women’s), third on 13%.

Swimming is on 5%, a two percentage point jump in 12 months, and remains fourth while golf also picks up a percent to sit on 4%, though drops one place to fifth.

When it comes to sport that people “like”, but that isn’t necessarily their favourite sport, tennis (19%) golf (18%), athletics (18%) and horse racing (12%) all poll strongly.

Rob Pearson, Director, Teneo Ireland said of the survey “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.

“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 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 6 Nations and ever-popular All Ireland Championships.”


Jonny Stapleton

Irish-boxing.com contributor for 15 years and editor for the past decade. Have been covering boxing for over 16 years and writing about sports for a living for over 20 years. Former Assistant Sports editor for the Gazette News Paper Group and former Tallaght Voice Sports Editor. Have had work published in publications around the world when working as a freelance journalist. Also co-founder of Junior Sports Media and Leinster Rugby PRO of the Year winner. email: editoririshboxing@gmail.com