Katie Taylor crowned Ireland’s most admired sports star

McGregor v Mayweather fight named most memorable Irish sporting moment of year

Katie Taylor has regained the title of Ireland's most admired sports star – knocking Conor McGregor off his perch, his popularity halved compared with this time last year.

Taylor’s WBA lightweight world title was also considered the greatest Irish sporting achievement of 2017, coming in ahead of Galway’s hurling league and championship double, and Dublin’s third All-Ireland football title in a row.

There was some consolation for McGregor, whose boxing showdown with Floyd Mayweather in Las Vegas was considered the most memorable Irish sporting moment of the year (achievement and moment this time clearly differentiated). That took 26 per cent, double the vote of James McClean’s goal against Wales in the World Cup Qualifiers in second (13 per cent) with the final of the Women’s Rugby World Cup third (11 per cent).

The annual Teneo Sports’ Sponsorship Index, now in its eighth year, is designed to gauge general sporting popularity. The poll was carried out among a nationally representative sample of 1,000 adults, aged 18 to 65; a general view of the public, in other words, not a survey of sports fans – hence some slightly bemusing results.


Broad spectrum

There was however a broad spectrum: the most admired most sports star, for example, featured a long list of 35 names, plus an "other" option: Taylor topped that poll with 21 per cent, McGregor getting 8 per cent; the MMA star was number one last year with his 16 per cent, while Taylor previously came out on top in 2013 and 2014. Jonathan Sexton came in third (5 per cent), Joe Canning and Aidan O'Brien both getting 4 per cent.

Soccer remains the nation’s favourite sport on 20 per cent, ahead of Gaelic games (17 per cent) and rugby (15 per cent). However, soccer’s appeal is heavily skewed towards males (32 per cent male, 9 per cent female). Gaelic games come out on top as favourite sport among females at 17 per cent with rugby second at 12 per cent and soccer third at 9 per cent.

Although when it comes to sports participation, walking is considered the most popular (37 per cent), followed by swimming (19 per cent) and running (10 per cent).

"It is always a challenge to rank one amazing sports star in one code against one from another code," said Kelli O'Keeffe, managing director of Teneo Sports, "and to do the same with sporting achievements and international successes against domestic triumphs. Sport is all about opinion and I have no doubt that TV exposure, publicity, hype and media coverage plays a huge part in informing the public."

Looking at 2018, the nation it seems is most looking forward to the All-Ireland Championships (25 per cent), ahead of the Fifa World Cup (23 per cent) and the Six Nations (13 per cent).

What is your favourite sport? (top 5 only)

Soccer 20%

Gaelic games 17%

Rugby 15%

Horse racing 5%

Tennis 5%

Swimming 5%

Which of the following sports stars do you most admire? (top 5 only)

Katie Taylor 21%

Conor McGregor 8%

Jonathan Sexton 5%

Joe Canning 4%

Aidan O’Brien 4%

What was the most memorable Irish sporting moment of 2017? (top 5 only)

Conor McGregor v Floyd Mayweather in Las Vegas 26%

James McClean’s goal v Wales 13%

Women’s Rugby World Cup final 11%

Joe Canning point v Tipperary to win All-Ireland semi-final 10%

Dean's Rock's free v Mayo to win All-Ireland final 8%

What was the greatest Irish sporting achievement of 2017? (top 5 only)

Katie Taylor winning WBA Lightweight world title 16%

Galway’s league and championship double 9%

Dublin footballer’s All-Ireland win 8%

Ireland rugby team’s record win against South Africa 7%

Republic of Ireland win away to Wales 7%

(Research carried out by Teneo Sports and Ignite Research, with quotas imposed across gender, region, age and social class).

Ian O'Riordan

Ian O'Riordan

Ian O'Riordan is an Irish Times sports journalist writing on athletics