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Marketing but golf stars creeping up

Ireland and Leinster rugby star Brian O'Driscoll has emerged for the second year running as Ireland's most admired sports star in the national survey by Onside Sponsorship marketing consultants.

But it is Ireland's golfers who collectively achieved strongest year-on-year growth for the admiration of the Irish public.

BOD was identified by one in four Irish people as the sports personality they most admire, with a three-fold increase in his score in as many years.

Interestingly, ahead of this weekend's clash between Leinster and Munster at the Aviva Stadium, O'Driscoll's admiration levels now see him as the most popular rugby player in Munster.

Sponsorship deals involving stars such as Tiger Woods, Wayne Rooney and David Beckham may have come under major scrutiny because of various scandals, but O'Driscoll's brand image is being handled well, including his media appearances and endorsements.

With the Ryder Cup being played at Celtic Manor in Wales, starting on Friday, the growth in golf's popularity is reflected in high marks for Padraig Harrington, Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell. Boxer Katie Taylor is ranked as the one to watch in the year ahead.

An Owens DDB report on sports participation in Ireland shows that 2.4 million people claim to 'do' some sport at least once a week.

GAA is the most popular membership sport. Rugby has a strong Dublin bias and golf is particularly popular among the professions.