As Katie Taylor makes final preparations for her challenge for the WBA World lightweight title in front of an 80,000 crowd in Cardiff next Saturday, she enters the ring with the new crown as Ireland’s Most Admired Sports Personality, according to leading sponsorship Ireland advisors ONSIDE.

Taylor took outright No.1 position in the latest ONSIDE STAR TRACKER 2017 sponsorship research for the first time, as last year’s joint top star Brian O’Driscoll dropped to 3rd position, behind Conor McGregor. 

According to John Trainor, Founder and CEO of ONSIDE: “McGregor’s venture into boxing this summer saw his star rise most significantly in our latest sponsorship research, with some interesting peaks in his fan base found in the Connaught region and among 18-24 year olds.”

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Digging behind individual performances, a three way tie was found by ONSIDE sponsorship in terms of the sports stars that Irish males admire most, with Taylor & McGregor joined by Roy Keane as their top stars.  Meanwhile Paul O’Connell remains the No.1 most admired sports star among the public living in Munster.

Special admiration for sports broadcaster Jimmy Magee, who passed away in September, was recognised by the public in their vote for the sports personality in 6th place on the ONSIDE research list, while Galway All-Ireland Hurling Champion Joe Canning was the one GAA star that made it into the ONSIDE sport Top 10.

John Trainor notes: “7 in 10 of the Irish public could name a sports person they admired most this year, with 56 different sports-related stars winning the Irish public’s hearts and minds.  Rugby players as a collective remain the most admired group, followed by Irish soccer personalities”.

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Outside of sport, The ONSIDE STAR TRACKER 2017 also found that Ryan Tubridy has retained the number one status as the most admired television or radio personality in Ireland for the fourth year in a row, with previous Late Late Show presenters Gay Byrne and Pat Kenny making up the Top 3.  While Tubridy’s No.1 status was evidenced across various segments, Jimmy Magee was ranked No.1 among Irish males in the TV & Radio category.   

Looking beyond traditional media, The ONSIDE STAR TRACKER 2017 also identified Ireland’s most admired social media influencers, with 1 in 5 Irish adults identifying preferred personalities in this emerging area for brands.  Suzanne Jackson (aka SoSueMe), Pippa O’Connor, and James Patrice topped the leaderboard. Trainor points out that: “While James Patrice scored strongest among Irish males, Suzanne Jackson topped the female public vote.  Meanwhile Pippa O’Connor is No.1 for adults in Dublin, Just Jordan is most admired among adults in Munster and James Kavanagh appeals most to the 18-24 year old segment.”

“Stars like Conor McGregor and Katie Taylor, who were central to significant ambassadorial programmes with major brands like Budweiser, Beats and JD Sports in 2017, can elevate their personal and their sponsor’s brands to game-changing new highs through smart deals next year”. Trainor anticipates further growth in the use of personality endorsement in 2018 as new data allows businesses to monetize the earning power that the next generation of sports heroes and media celebrities provide in the cross-over between the experience and knowledge economy.”