Meet The Judges2018-04-25T10:47:32+00:00

Meet Our Judges

It takes one to know one. We’ve invited Ireland’s fitness experts and coaches from an eclectic range of backgrounds to sit on our judging panel. These respected individuals were handpicked for their knowledge,  passion and influence across the health & fitness sector.

Conn McCluskey
Conn McCluskeyCEO, 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
Paul ByrneDirector, 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, whos 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.
Matt English
Matt EnglishCEO, 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.

Michael McGeehin
Michael McGeehinDirector, Sport Ireland Coaching
Michael is a PE Graduate of Thomond College and a Master Tutor with the GAA. He led the Donegal Sports Partnership since its inception in 2001 and left it following the successful completion of its first strategy. During that time, Michael worked closely with a broad range of sports on various initiatives relating to coaching, training and participation. Michael also built up a vast experience of coaching through his involvement with both Gaelic football at club and inter-county level and National League soccer teams around the country.
Emira O'Neill
Emira O'NeillBusiness Services Manager, Federation of Irish Sport
Emira started her journey with the Federation of Irish Sport in December 2015, taking the role of Business Services Manager. As part of her duties, Emira manages the relations, services and communications with the Federation’s member organisations. Her other responsibility lies in business development, to include group purchasing and shared services, facilitating peer networks and supporting the development of the commercial programme.
Emira graduated with an MBS in Business Practice from the Irish Management Institute in Dublin, and also holds a degree as a Physiotherapy Technician.
Roger Sweeney
Roger SweeneyMarketing 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.
Joe O Connor
Joe O ConnorFounder, Nisus Fitness and CoachPACT.com
Over the last 20 years, Joe O Connor has worked in the health & fitness industry as an Instructor, Personal Trainer, Leisure Centre Manager and founded both Nisus Fitness and CoachPACT.com. An IT Tralee lecturer in exercise physiology since 2006 and currently the Head of Athletic Performance for Kerry Football and Limerick Hurling while also working with elite athletes competing at the European, World & Olympic Championships.
Emmet Ryan
Emmet RyanEditor & 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.
Niamh Foley
Niamh FoleyLecturer, 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
Darragh CunninghamChairman 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.
Andy Reed
Andy ReedDirector 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.
Brenda O'Donnell
Brenda O'DonnellInclusive 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.

Michael Harrison
Michael HarrisonChairman of the REPS Ireland Council and board member of Ireland Active
Dr Michael Harrison was a member of the National GP Exercise Referral Steering Group and on the National Exercise Referral Framework Working Group. He is Head of Department of Sport and Exercise Science at Waterford Institute of Technology and formerly programme leader of their Exercise and Health Studies programme. He is the director of the MedEx@WIT chronic exercise-based rehabilitation programme that operates out of the WIT Arena.
Krishna De
Krishna DeContent 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.
Dr Crionna Tobin PhD
Dr Crionna Tobin PhDEducation, Nutrition & Scientific Affairs Manager, Glanbia Performance Nutrition
Glanbia Performance Nutrition’s in house expert sports nutritionist Dr Crionna Tobin is a PhD graduate of Dublin City University in the area of exercise physiology and nutrition, and a registered performance nutritionist. Working with NUTRAMINO and other Glanbia Performance Nutrition brands, Crionna seeks to educate and inspire athletes and fitness professionals on the powerful role nutrition plays in enhancing all aspects of performance.
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