Katie Taylor winning gold in the ExCel Arena has been voted Ireland’s most iconic sporting moment of 2012 by a massive 75% of Irish people, according to Pembroke Communications’ 2012 Sports Sentiment Index (SSI)…

The SSI is a comprehensive 1,000 person nationally representative survey that examines the attitudes of Irish people towards sport, their sporting heroes, participation levels, the impact of sport on the Irish psyche and the contribution sport is making to local communities.

Katie Taylor is also far and away Ireland’s most loved sports person, with 53% of people stating she is the greatest current Irish sports star, well ahead of the brilliant Ulster golfer Rory McIlroy (16%) and Ireland and Leinster rugby legend Brian O’Driscoll (13%), the previous poll toppers.

2012 was the year of major international sporting events, so it is no surprise that the exploits of our Olympic and Paralympic athletes in London’s East End dominate the hearts and minds of the Irish public.

The title of “Team of the Year” fell to the Irish Paralympics Team with 38% followed by the successful Irish boxers on 23%, Donegal footballers on 14% and Leinster’s Heineken Cup back to back heroes on 11%. This is a huge achievement for Paralympic sport in this country, which has had to travel a long road to raise awareness of its sport. The exploits of the brilliant Michael McKillop, Mark Rohan and Jason Smyth so close to home has catapulted disability sport to a new level of understanding and respect.


One major noticeable and continuing trend is the growth of participation sports such as cycling, swimming, running and walking.

77% of the population now participate in sport or exercise to keep fit rather than play organised sport (22%) with only 12% of the population taking no part in any form of sport. 40% of Irish people regularly walk, 16% run, 15% cycle and 22% swim. Women (14%) are more likely than men (10%) to do no physical activity at all.

Socio Economic Impact of Sport

With respect to the social and economic impact of sport, 89% believe Irish sporting success has a positive impact on the country’s reputation overseas. 40% believed the Olympics provided the most positive image of Irish sport in 2012 with the Paralympics on 21% and All-Ireland GAA finals on 11%.

Finally, when it came to perceived threats to participation in sport, 29% claimed a lack of future funding would have a detrimental impact with 24% claiming a lack of facilities was an issue. 12% pointed to the cost of taking part in sport as being a barrier to entry while 11% said work-life balance was a contributing factor.

Mick O’Keeffe, managing director of Pembroke Communications said; “Katie Taylor has moved from being a star to super star over the last 12 months and it is no shock she dominates the public’s affection. Over 1.1m people watched her fight in August and she is now firmly the nation’s favourite. 2012 was also a breakthrough year for awareness of disability sport and the Irish Paralympic team’s successes has made them the Team of the Year according to 38% of Irish people.

“The Sports Sentiment Index also proves that Ireland remains a nation of sports lovers and it is encouraging to see participation levels on the increase. People are moving towards sport to keep fit and exercise rather than organised team sports and only 12% of the population takes part in no physical activity at all.

“This survey is one the most comprehensive to date, providing hugely valuable data and insights into Irish sporting preferences and participation in sport.”

About Pembroke Communications:

Founded in Dublin in 1981, Pembroke is one of Ireland’s leading full service public relations agencies. www.pembrokecomms.ie

About the Sports Sentiment Index:

The Sports Sentiment Index was carried out by Pembroke Communications in conjunction with leading research agency Ignite Research. The research was conducted among a nationally representative sample of 1,000 adults aged 18-65, with quotas imposed on gender, region, age and social class.
Research Findings (selected)

Who, in your opinion, is Ireland’s greatest current sports star? (selected)

53% Katie Taylor
16% Rory McIlroy
13% Brian O’Driscoll
5% Henry Shefflin
4% Robbie Keane
3% Tony McCoy
2% John Joe Nevin

What was the best/most memorable/iconic sporting moment of 2012? (selected)

75% Katie Taylor winning gold at London 2012
7% Rory McIlroy winning the US PGA title
6% Michael McKillop being presented with his gold medal by his Mum
3% Joe Canning’s last minute equaliser against Kilkenny in the first All-Ireland Hurling Final
3% Tony McCoy’s win in the Gold Cup
2% Michael Murphy’s opening goal in the All-Ireland Football Final
2% Connacht’s first ever win in the Heineken Cup against Harlequins
1% Sean St Leger scoring for Ireland at the Euros

In your opinion, which of the following deserve the title of Team of the Year 2012? (selected)

38% The Irish Paralympic team winning 16 medals in London 2012
23% The Irish Olympic boxing team winning 4 medals in London 2012
14% Donegal winning Sam Maguire after 20 years
11% Leinster winning back to back Heineken Cup titles
4% Kilkenny senior hurling team retaining their All-Ireland title

What, in your opinion, was the greatest Irish sporting achievement of 2012? (selected)

60% Katie Taylor winning the gold at the London 2012 Games
12% The performance of the Irish Paralympics team in London 2012
6% Donegal footballers winning the Sam Maguire for the first time since 1992
5% Rory McIIroy winning the 2012 US PGA Championship

With respect to participating in sport & physical exercise-which statement(s) best describes you? (Multiple-choice)

46% I don’t play sport but exercise to keep fit and healthy
31% I take part for fun/play sport as recreation
12% I play competitively as part of a team in organized competition
12% I don’t exercise or play any sports
10% I compete in an individual sport

What sort of impact does Irish sporting success have on the country’s reputation overseas?

49% Meaningful impact
28% Significant impact
18% Slight impact
5% No impact
0% Negative impact

What sporting event in 2012 provided the most positive image of Irish sport? (selected)

40% Olympics
21% Paralympics
14% US PGA Championships (Rory McIIroy)
6% European Championships (Soccer)
6% All Ireland Football Final
6% Irish Open Championship (Golf)
5% All Ireland Hurling Final

What are you most looking forward to in 2013? (selected)

22% The 6 Nations Championship
19% The World Cup Qualifying campaign in soccer
15% The Heineken Cup being hosted in Dublin’s Aviva Stadium
12% The All Ireland Football Championship
11% The All Ireland Hurling Championship
8% The Cheltenham Festival
5% The Lions Tour 2013
3% The 2013 Airtricity League