Meet the Judges

Conn McCluskey

CEO, Ireland Active

Conn McCluskey is the CEO of Ireland Active, the national association for the leisure, health and fitness sector in Ireland. Conn took up the role with Ireland Active having spent 4 years with the Federation of Irish Sport working policy, programmes and business development with the National Governing Bodies of Sport and Local Sports Partnerships as Business Services Officer. A qualified architect, Conn also holds a Masters in Sport in Exercise Management from UCD.

Paul Byrne

Director, BodyByrne and President, NABBA

Paul has been working in Fitness for over 28 years as a Trainer and Gym owner. He is rated one of the best in Ireland and is the founder and Director of BodyByrne, whose clients go from band members and actors, to Olympic athletes. Paul has won numerous physique classes in Ireland, Northern Ireland and UK, and as well as being a six-time Irish Karate Champion. Paul is also the President of NABBA Ireland (National Amateur Body Building Association) and President of the World Fitness Federation Ireland. He is a regular judge at the Mr Universe and other world competitions and fitness contests.

Roger Sweeney

Marketing Manager & Deputy CEO, Irish Water Safety

Roger’s work partners with government agencies, corporate bodies, NGOs, local authorities and community groups nationwide to change skills, attitudes, and behaviours at our aquatic environments so that they are enjoyed with confidence and safety. He holds an MSc in Innovation Management in the Public Service and sits on the Marine Safety Working Group, which represents statutory bodies, search & rescue organisations and other users of our aquatic environments.

Niamh Foley

Lecturer, Athlone Institute of Technology

Niamh is a Lecturer in Athlone Institute of Technology on all of their Sports Management Programmes. Prior to this, she spent a number of years as a Leisure Facility Manager. She maintains an active interest in the industry and is both an NCEF and an RLSS tutor. She also conducts Leisure facility audits and is a member of a number of industry committees. Niamh holds both an MBA Sports Management, and a Bachelor of Business (Hons) in Recreation & Sports Management.

Darragh Cunningham

Chairman of the High Performance Selection Panel for Swim Ireland

Darragh Cunningham has 16 years experience as a manger in Irish sport in the private, public and high performance sectors. After spending 6 years in the Soccer industry, Darragh moved to Dublin City Council in 2008 as a Leisure Services Manager managing 10 different sport and leisure facilities in his time. In 2017 Darragh took a 1 year career break to become CEO of Pentathlon Ireland returning a successful bid for a World Championship event, breaking a world record for mass participation in the sport and managing the competition season which saw 4 gold medal wins for Ireland.
Darragh has since returned to DCC and is currently the Chairman of the High Performance selection Panel for Swim Ireland and is also a sports management consultant.

Brenda O’Donnell

Inclusive Sport and Fitness Coordinator at CARA

Brenda is a graduate from the Institute of Technology Tralee. In 2001 she graduated with a BSc in Health, Fitness and Leisure Studies. Brenda currently fills the role of Inclusive Sport and Fitness Coordinator at CARA. Previous to this, Brenda was the Director of Sport for Cerebral Palsy Sport Ireland, fulfilling this role for over 9 years. Since Her graduation from Tralee in 2001, Brenda has always worked and being involved in the area of disability sport creating equal sporting and recreational opportunities for individuals with disabilities. Brenda’s role within the fitness and leisure sector provides support and education to fitness professionals, managers and frontline instructors to enable them to look at providing an inclusive environment for people with disabilities.

Matt English

CEO Special Olympics Ireland

Matt is a member of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants, graduating from Waterford Institute of Technology and London Business College of Accountancy. He began his career working for British Petroleum, and then moved on to more senior positions in a number of US Multinational Companies including; Comdisco, EDS and Modus Link.
Matt was Chief Financial Officer for the 2003 Special Olympics World Summer Games held in Dublin and Belfast. Since 2008, Matt returned to the Special Olympics movement as Chief Executive Officer.

Andy Reed

Director of Saje Impact, the Sports Think Tank and Loughborough University Institute for Sport Business

Andy has served as the Parliamentary Private Secretary to Sports Ministers and adviser to various Ministers and Sports bodies during his time in Westminster. He was Chair of the Sport and Recreation Alliance from 2010 to 2016 and he sits on the Boards of Special Olympics GB, British Basketball League Foundation and Sports Chaplaincy UK. He is a Member of the RFU Rugby World Cup Legacy Group. In 2011 he established with other colleagues, the independent Sports Think Tank to enable the sports sector to have its own policy. In 2012 Andy was awarded the OBE for services to Sport and the Community in Leicestershire. His company SajeImpact has helped a variety of sports bodies and brands to communicate their messages to policy makers.

Paula Prunty

Operations & Planning Manager for the Ladies Gaelic Football Association

In 2003, Paula was recruited by the Ladies Gaelic Football Association, initially as Technical Officer, and subsequently as National Games Development Manager .
Paula was responsible for driving the development of the Association including the roll out of two of the Association’s most successful initiatives: Gaelic4Girls which has recruited in excess of 20,000 players, and Gaelic4Mothers&Others, which is a recreational game played by over 8,000 women across all 32 counties.
Since Paula’s promotion to the role of Operations & Planning Manager in January 2018, Paula has been instrumental in raising the attendance figures of the TG4 All-Ireland Ladies Football Finals in Croke Park, which hit a record breaking 50,141 this year, making it the biggest female sporting event in the world. Paula’s vast experience extends beyond our indigenous game and is a known leader in the governance of sport.

Emmet Ryan

Editor & Journalist

Emmet Ryan is Connected Editor at the Sunday Business Post and has been covering the tech sector since before flip phones were cool. In 2014 he received the alumni award at the Irish Business Journalist Awards and won the Interview of the Year category at the same awards in 2015. He hosts the popular Connected podcast and is also a beer columnist. A veteran of 8 marathons, Emmet walked 500 miles from Malin to Mizen in 2009.

Krishna De

Content Marketing, Social Media, Live Stream Strategist and Professional Speaker

Krishna De is an award winning digital marketing and social media speaker and mentor and her expertise in leveraging digital marketing and social media is featured in several highly acclaimed books. Krishna has worked in with clients across the globe including leaders of FTSE 100 companies, public sector agencies, professional services firms, non-profits and the media guiding them on how to integrate social media communications to support their business strategy.

Oisín Manning

Key Account Manager, IRE Commercial, Glanbia Performance Nutrition

Oisín has been working in sports nutrition for 9 years. He has worked in gym, retail and is now with Glanbia Performance Nutrition. Oisín has been part of the GPN commercial team for over three years growing the Nutramino brand. He has worked with specialty, gyms, health stores and in the convenience sector through his work with GPN.