Sport Soccer

Tuesday 24 October 2017

From The Stands: Sport-mad Irish have second ball in the air

The tussle between Tyrone and Dublin drew the lowest numbers of viewers in the events chosen for the poll, despite it being free to air on TG4. Photo: Ray McManus / SPORTSFILE
The tussle between Tyrone and Dublin drew the lowest numbers of viewers in the events chosen for the poll, despite it being free to air on TG4. Photo: Ray McManus / SPORTSFILE

John Greene, Marie Crowe, Dermot Gilleece and Seán Ryan

We pride ourselves on being a sports-mad nation. It's a badge of honour, but how sports-mad we are is a matter for debate.

An interesting survey published last week gives us some idea. The survey focussed on one busy weekend of sport last month, and asked 1,000 people if they had watched the Aintree Grand National, the four Heineken Cup quarter-finals, the Allianz Football League match between Dublin and Tyrone and two televised Premier League games involving Liverpool and Arsenal.

The survey was carried out by Sport for Business and Amarach Research. The results are interesting. In total, 56 per cent of the population watched one or more of the events over that weekend.

The Grand National generated the largest audience, with 30 per cent of those questioned having watched some or all of it. The second most popular TV event was Munster v Toulouse (22 per cent), followed by Liverpool against West Ham (16 per cent), both of which were exclusive to Sky Sports, as was the fourth most popular event, Leinster v Toulon (15 per cent). Bottom of the list was Dublin v Tyrone (10 per cent) despite being free to air on TG4.

To give an idea of the impact of technology, a quarter of those surveyed in the 15-24 age group said they would use a second device to either watch or keep updated on a second event while watching their first choice one.

"Irish sports audiences are increasingly moving towards 'second screen' devices to keep in touch with multiple live sports experiences," said Rob Hartnett, CEO of Sport for Business.

"It's a generational switch and the interesting thing is that this is largely happening beneath the age group that are making decisions on how marketing around sport should be undertaken."

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What do a Grand Slam winner, an All-Star hurler, an Olympian, a European weight lifting athlete and an All-Ireland schools soccer medal winner all have in common? Next Thursday they will all be inducted into the Hall of Fame at St Clement's Redemptorist College, Limerick.

Paddy Reid was a member of Ireland's Grand Slam team in 1948, Limerick hurler Mark Foley won two All-Star awards, Tommy Reidy represented America in the 1992 Olympic Games in badminton, Kieran Stout competed in the European senior weight lifting championships while still a school boy and David Costelloe won an All-Ireland schools soccer medal in 1980.

These former athletes will be honoured along with several others including Liam Toland and Brian Begley as St Clement's continues to promote ecumenism in sport

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The deeds and exploits of Paídi ó Sé will no doubt be fondly recalled in Hollystown Golf Club on Friday by his many friends who will be coming from far and wide to celebrate the memory of the much-missed Kerry football legend.

As part of the fundraising endeavours of Coiste Chuimhneachain Phaidi Ui She, the scenic and testing North County Dublin venue will host a golf classic in Paídi's honour, with more than 40 teams taking to the fairways.

The ultimate goal of the Memorial Committee is the commissioning of a life-size bronze sculpture of Paidi to be unveiled in his beloved Ard Bhothair on May 16, 2015.

Whatever about the golf, it is expected Hollystown will ring loud with the laughter, chat and ball-hopping that befit the man who was such a vibrant and colourful presence in his native Kingdom for so many years and who left such an indelible stamp on the history of the GAA.

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Arnold O'Byrne is having a good year. The former CEO of Opel Ireland will have his memoirs, 'Shenanigans: Lifting the hood at General Motors', launched by Gay Byrne in Hodges & Figgis on Thursday, and the club he followed from his time in England, Luton Town, won the Conference title to return to the English League after five years.

O'Byrne is, of course, best remembered for his sponsorship of the FAI in the 1980s and '90s. While it coincided with Irish football's golden era, O'Byrne helped raise the profile of the FAI at a time when it was largely regarded as a figure of fun.

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