Never mind the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Award, Rory McIlroy's double major winning season has been clobbered to the canvas by Katie Taylor's latest win and tackled into touch by the Irish rugby team's Six Nations triumph in a new poll of the greatest Irish sporting achievements of 2014.
Surprisingly, golf is not ranked among the nation's Top-5 favourite sports either, losing out to soccer, Gaelic games, rugby, tennis and swimming when only one answer could be chosen.
Taylor’s fifth straight world championship gold medal is Greatest Irish Sporting Achievement of 2014 according to the PSG Sponsorship Sport Sentiment Index 2014 (‘SSI’), the results of which were released today.
The SSI is a comprehensive 1,000 person nationally representative survey with quotas imposed on gender, region, age and social class. The research was carried out by PSG Sponsorship and Ignite Research and examines Irish people’s attitudes towards sport, their sporting heroes, levels of participation, the impact of sport on the Irish psyche and the contribution sport is making to local communities.
According to PSG Sponsorship's Joanne O'Sullivan: "Overall, golf actually came out quite well in the SSI this year.
"When we asked participants to select from a list of sports which ones there were "interested in / like", golf was on 28% (up 9% from last year).
"In the "what is your favourite sport category", where people could only select one answer, golf was 7th on 3%. However, in the 55+ group golf is the 4th highest on 7%.
"Also, in terms of participation, overall 11% of respondents selected golf as a sport they participate in. Again, the figure increase as the age profile rises, in the 45 - 54 age group 14% play golf, behind walking (55%) and running (16%). In 55+ age group 19% play golf, second only to walking (61%)."
In November Katie Taylor outpointed Azerbaijan’s Yana Allekseevana in the final of the lightweight division at the AIBA Women’s World Boxing Championship in Jeju, South Korea with 30% of respondents ranked this as the Greatest Irish Sporting Achievement of 2014 ahead of the Irish men’s rugby team winning the Six Nations (18%) and McIlroy’s brilliant season (8%).
Following a clean sweep in the autumn internationals and their Six Nations Championship win, the Irish men’s team has been recognised as the 2014 Team of the Year gaining 38% of the vote. They beat their female counterparts into second place (20%).
The women’s team finished fourth at this year’s Rugby World Cup beating New Zealand along the way. Brian Cody’s Kilkenny senior hurlers took third spot on the list (9%) having claimed yet another All Ireland title.
Despite the high profile successes, rugby is not the country’s favourite sport according to the SSI.
Soccer ranks number one with 24% saying it was their favourite sport. Gaelic Games (including hurling, camogie, football and ladies football) garnered 17% of the vote to take second spot with rugby third on 16%.
Unsurprisingly, after a superb Autumn Series, the Rugby World Cup is the sporting event that is getting the country most excited in the year ahead. 25%responded that it was the event they were most looking forward to in 2015 with the GAA All Ireland Senior Championships second (21%), the Six Nations third (17%) and the ever popular Cheltenham fourth (5%).
Rugby’s popularity is again emphasised by the fact that the two most admired sports-men in Ireland participate in the oval ball game. The recently retired Brian O’Driscoll took 14% of the votes with Paul O’Connell just behind on 12%. However it is Katie Taylor that is Ireland’s Most Admired Sports Star of 2014. 34% of respondents ranked her at number one.
Others included world number one golfer McIlroy on 6%. Robbie Keane was the highest placed soccer player on 6% with Henry Shefflin the highest placed GAA star on 3%. Charismatic UFC star Conor McGregor makes a first appearance in the top 10 with 4%.
Commenting on being chosen as Ireland’s Most Admired Sports Star by the 2014 SSI, Katie Taylor said; “I'm so proud and honoured to even be recognised amongst such great Irish sporting talent like Paul O’Connell, Rory McIlroy, Brian O’Driscoll and Robbie Keane who are all great stars in their own right. It is always humbling to be recognised by Irish people and great for all women who play sport”.
Speaking on behalf of the 2014 Team of the Year, Michael Kearney, Ireland Team Manager, said; “2014 was a fantastic year for Irish rugby. The support of Ireland fans at the Aviva Stadium over the course of the last twelve months has been immense and as the group head into a challenging and very busy 2015 we hope that we can continue to improve and produce performances that fans can get excited about.”
Michael O’Keeffe, Chief Executive of PSG Communications said; “Katie Taylor is undoubtedly the Irish nations’ favourite sports star and her ongoing success has cemented her place in the public’s affections. To see more people rank her as Ireland’s Most Admired Sports Star than Brian O’Driscoll, Paul O’Connell and Rory Milroy combined shows exactly how highly regarded she is.
“2014 has also seen the emergence of stars from what would previously have been seen as minority sports; for example Conor McGregor. The Notorious has made a huge impression on the UFC and obviously his all action and fast talking style has had an impact on the public consciousness.
“Just one GAA personality makes the Top 10 of most admired sports stars and given he won a record breaking tenth All Ireland senior medal in 2014 that is unsurprisingly, Henry Shefflin.
“The Irish men’s rugby team is the Team of the Year by some distance and the country is obviously excited for the 2015 World Cup after a brilliant 2014. In Joe Schmidt’s first full year in charge they have been crowned Six Nations champions and beat South Africa and Australia in the autumn.
“It was encouraging to see the womens’ rugby team and Cork ladies footballers’ poll so highly in the research which possibly illustrates a greater appreciation of female sports teams amongst the general population.”
The Sports Sentiment Index was carried out by PSG Sponsorship in conjunction with leading research agency Ignite Research. The research was carried out among a nationally representative sample of 1,000 adults aged 18 to 65, with quotas imposed on gender, region, age and social class.
Selected Research Findings
Which of the following sports stars do you most admire? (top 10 only)
- Katie Taylor 34%
- Brian O’Driscoll 14%
- Paul O'Connell 12%
- Robbie Keane 6%
- Rory McIlroy 6%
- Conor McGregor 4%
- AP McCoy 4%
- Jonathan Sexton 4%
- Henry Shefflin 3%
- Ruby Walsh 3%
Which of the following deserve the title of Team of the Year 2014? (top 5 only)
- Irish Men’s rugby team 38%
- Irish Women’s Rugby Team 20%
- Kilkenny senior hurling team 9%
- Kerry senior football team 7%
- Cork Ladies Football Team 7%
What are you most looking forward to in 2015? (top 5 only)
- The Rugby World Cup 25%
- GAA All Ireland Senior Championships 21%
- The Six Nations 17%
- The Cheltenham Festival 5%
- The Irish Open 3%
- The Airtricity League 3%
What, in your opinion, was the greatest Irish sporting achievement of 2014? (top 5 only)
- Katie Taylor winning her fifth World Championship gold medal in a row 30%
- The Irish Rugby team winning the Six Nations 18%
- Rory McIlroy winning two majors and reaching number one in the world 8%
- Stephanie Roche being nominated for the FIFA Goal of the Year 7%
- The Irish Rugby team going undefeated in the Autumn Series 6%
What is your favourite sport? (top 5 only)
- Soccer 24%
- Gaelic Sports 17%
- Rugby 16%
- Tennis 5%
- Swimming 5%
What was the iconic Irish sporting moment of 2014?
- Katie Taylor winning her fifth world title 20%
- Brian O’Driscoll’s last game for Ireland 15%
- Ireland holding on to win the 6 nations in France 14%
- The Irish Women’s rugby team beating New Zealand in the Rugby World Cup 7%
- John O’Shea’s injury time equaliser against Germany 6%
Please tick the statement that most applies to you?
- I don’t play organised sport but exercise to keep fit and healthy 54%
- I don’t exercise or play any sports 21%
- I take part in / play sport for fun / recreational purposes 17%
- I play organised sport (i.e. in a competition / league) 8%