The race for Olympic qualification hots up this weekend as the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series rolls into Hong Kong for a historic double header event.

For the first time in the Hong Kong Sevens’ 46-year history, the top 12 Women’s nations, including invitational team Hong Kong China, will join the Men’s Series for a thrilling three-day competition in front of an expected crowd of more than 100,000 fans over the weekend.

The Ireland Men’s and Women’s Sevens squads, sponsored by TritonLake, are bidding to book their tickets for Paris 2024 through this year’s World Series, with the top four teams in the overall standings securing qualification for the Games.

The Ireland Men are currently sitting in eighth place after seven rounds of the 2022/23 campaign, most recently performing strongly at the Canada Sevens in Vancouver earlier this month.

James Topping’s side will hope to bring that momentum into Hong Kong this weekend, from the pool stages which kick off on Friday through to the tournament’s deciding games on Sunday.

There are just 11 points between eighth-place Ireland and Fiji, who currently sit fourth, and with four legs of the Men’s Series left to play – Hong Kong, Singapore, Toulouse and London – there is still a lot to play for in the weeks ahead.

Ireland have been paired with South Africa, Kenya and New Zealand in Pool D for the Cathay/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens, with Topping naming a strong 13-player travelling squad, captained by Harry McNulty.

The Ireland Women, meanwhile, have a first ever Olympic qualification within their sights as they prepare for the final two legs of the Women’s Series.

The Lucy Mulhall-led team are currently sitting in fifth position, but with Olympic hosts France occupying fourth place, Ireland would secure their place at the 2024 Games as things stand.

They head to Hong Kong knowing two more strong performances at the Hong Kong Stadium and in Toulouse in May would put them in a good position to achieve their ultimate ambition.

The girls in green are currently 10 points ahead of Fiji, whom they face in pool action in Hong Kong along with Australia and Brazil.

In a coaching update, the IRFU can confirm that Aiden McNulty has left the position of Ireland Women’s Sevens head coach. Allan Temple-Jones has been appointed to the role ahead of this weekend’s tournament in Hong Kong.

McNulty has taken up the position of Provincial Talent Coach at Munster Rugby.

Temple-Jones was previously Head of Athletic Performance for the Ireland Sevens programme from 2017 to 2021 and returns having spent the last two seasons with the Cell C Sharks in South Africa. He will take charge of his first tournament this weekend.

You can watch both Ireland Sevens teams in action on the World Rugby Sevens Series website and app.

IRELAND MEN’S SEVENS Squad (Cathay/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens, Hong Kong Stadium, Friday, March 31-Sunday, April 2, 2023):

Jordan Conroy (Buccaneers RFC)

Sean Cribbin (Suttonians RFC)

Fergus Jemphrey (Ballynahinch RFC)

Jack Kelly (Dublin University FC)

Hugo Lennox (Skerries RFC)

Matt McDonald (IQ Rugby)

Liam McNamara (IQ Rugby)

Harry McNulty (UCD RFC) (capt)

Chay Mullins (Galway Corinthians RFC/Connacht/IQ Rugby)

Dylan O’Grady (UCD RFC)

Mark Roche (Lansdowne FC)

Tom Roche (Lansdowne FC)

Andrew Smith (Clontarf FC/Leinster)

IRELAND WOMEN’S SEVENS Squad (Cathay/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens, Hong Kong Stadium, Friday, March 31-Sunday, April 2, 2023):

Kathy Baker (Blackrock College RFC)
Claire Boles (Railway Union RFC)
Megan Burns (Blackrock College RFC)
Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe (Railway Union RFC)
Stacey Flood (Railway Union RFC)
Katie Heffernan (Railway Union RFC)
Eve Higgins (Railway Union RFC)
Erin King (Old Belvedere RFC)
Vicky Elmes Kinlan (Wicklow RFC)
Emily Lane (Blackrock College RFC)
Kate Farrell McCabe (Suttonians RFC)
Lucy Mulhall (Wicklow RFC) (capt)
Béibhinn Parsons (Blackrock College RFC)

IRELAND SEVENS Schedule – Cathay/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens:

Friday, March 31 –

Saturday, April 1 –

Sunday, April 2 –

This week we released the first of three videos in a series looking at stories behind some of our Team Ireland Tokyo Olympic medals.

'Blood, Sweat and Tears' tells the story of the Women's Four who stormed to an Olympic Bronze medal on the Sea Forest Waterway on a blistering hot day at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic regatta. The four rowers revisit some of the work that went into the historic moment where they became the first Irish female rowers to win an Olympic medal, the first medal in an open class, and the first big boat to make a podium.

Blood, Sweat and Tears

When we talk about grit and determination, it can be summed up nicely in the previously untold story behind the title, blood, gore, stitches and an unwavering commitment to the task at hand.

It's opened young people's eyes, there's no limits to Irish rowing, it's growing so much. I'd like to think it's quite inspiring - the sky's the limit.

Emily Hegarty, Stroke of the Irish Women's Four - Olympic Bronze Medallist.


FROM our first ever Olympic finalists in 2016 to first Olympic medallists five years later, Ireland’s female rowers are on a remarkable trajectory right now and still rising exponentially.

Lightweight double Sinead Lynch and Claire Lambe made the brilliant breakthrough to a Olympic final in Rio and the women’s four of Aifric Keogh, Eimear Lambe, Emily Hegarty and Fiona Murtagh went one better, producing a sensational finish to win that historic and joyous bronze medal in Tokyo.

There is also evidence of serious depth now in Rowing Ireland’s elite base in Iniscarra where 50% of the 30 carded athletes who train there together are female.

Two golds and two bronzes put Ireland seventh on the medal table at last year’s World Championships, a remarkable result ahead of major rowing powers like Germany, New Zealand, China, Australia and the United States.

Three of those medals were won by Irish women.

Katie O’Brien became the PR2 single sculls World Champion. As that event is not in the Paralympics, she is targeting the double scull with Steven McGowan to fulfil that dream and has moved to Cork to train fulltime.

Aoife Casey, left, and Margaret Cremen of Ireland. Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile

Margaret Cremen and Aoife Casey, who finished eighth in Tokyo in 2021, won world bronze in the women’s lightweight double, knocking out the Olympic champions (Italy) in their heat and beating the Olympic silver medallists (France) in the final.

And the brand new partnership of Sanita Puspure and Zoe Hyde, just four months after they first joined forces, also won bronze in the double scull.

Rowing Ireland’s elite females are an extremely tightly knit group who all push each other to the limits in training and proudly post collectively, on social media, under the title of ‘Big Strong Gorls’.

But how has this remarkable growth come about and how much symbiosis is in it?

21 July 2021; Rowing Ireland high performance director Antonio Maurogiovanni during training at the Sea Forest Waterway ahead of the start of the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

When Antonio Maurogiovanni became Rowing Ireland’s High Performance Director six years ago only Puspure, a two-time World and European champion in single sculls, was reaching these heights.

“When I arrived in 2016-2017 there was just one woman; Sanita. There was a lack of belief in Ireland that we could have senior and heavyweight women.

“It was almost like a tradition or a historical concept in the bones of the Irish rowers that they felt ‘no, we’re small, we can’t be heavyweight!’ and this was in male and female (mindsets),” he adds.

“I tried to break through that because I believe rowers are everywhere in the world. You just need to find them and create the right centralised programme and momentum for them.”

Success has undoubtedly helped drive collective standards and ambitions.

“The other girls see girls making finals and winning medals. There is that role model and snowball effect then - more girls want to be part of that.

“It has had a payback to the lightweights too because now they compete internally with the heavyweights, so we have a better lightweight programme with two crews (male and female) winning medals, where it was only the men in the past.”

Expanding the women’s programme was also timely as there are ongoing moves to remove lightweight rowing from the Olympic Games programme.

That was rejected for Paris 2024 but looks likely to happen before Los Angeles 2028 so developing more heavyweights is also future-proofing Ireland’s medal aspirations.

An Irish women’s eight was even entered in last year’s European Championships (it didn’t compete due to illness) but Maurogiovanni stresses that the big boat is not a priority.

“We don’t have a rowing population like Italy or Australia or Holland or the US, it’s very small and we don’t have any eight tradition. The women’s eight was more because the girls themselves wanted to do that,” he reveals.

“They enjoy going into the big boat together, it’s more about fun and development and learning a different speed but it’s not a target boat. The single, the doubles, the pair and the fours, these are our targets.”

This year is a one vital one as the World Championships (Belgrade, September 3-10) also offer the first chance for Olympic qualification.

Maurogiovanni stresses that no one in high performance can ever rest on their laurels and points out that success also comes with a cost.

“Does winning give the women psychological momentum? Absolutely yes! But, on the other side, it also gives pressure.

“One thing is to go in as an underdog but now everyone knows Ireland is on the rowing map. That puts pressure on the athletes and the coaches, on everyone in our high performance team.

“This is also ‘high performance’ sport,” he sagely points out.

“Everyone at this level has had medals on their neck in the past and has to deal with that pressure so we all have to learn to deal with that now.”

Clíona Foley in conversation with Antonio Maurogiovanni



As athletes pass the halfway mark in the shortest Olympic cycle in history, the Olympic Federation of Ireland today launched the first film in a mini docuseries reflecting on some of the Olympic medal moments from Tokyo 2020, a timely reminder of the work our sports and coaches and athletes put in less than 500 days before Paris 2024. ‘Blood, Sweat and Tears’ remembers the story behind the Olympic Bronze Medal-winning race of the Women’s Four, filmed in their high-performance centre at the National Rowing Centre in Cork.

On 28 July 2021, Team Ireland rowers Emily Hegarty, Fiona Murtagh, Eimear Lambe and Aifric Keogh made history when they became the first female rowers to win an Olympic medal, finishing third in the finals of the Women’s Four. It was the first time that Irish rowers won a medal in the open class of rowing, just one Olympic cycle after the O’Donovan brothers won their silver medal in Rio 2016.

Demonstrating the steely determination and resilience that exists in all Olympic athletes, the women’s Olympic journey was not without drama. This film documents the journey of the four athletes from lockdown through to sealing their Olympic qualification a mere two months prior to the Games, and to the historic Olympic final.

At the Olympic regatta, the crew were faced with an additional challenge, with Murtagh slicing her arm on the fin of the boat days before the final, requiring eight stitches on her arm. Facing a decision on whether she would be fit to race, there was no doubt in Murtagh’s mind about how it would unfold,

“I said, my Olympics debut is this weekend, I need to go on the water. I raced the heat and the final with the stitches. So blood, sweat and tears went into that final.”

In 2017, a strategic move from Rowing Ireland under the guidance of Performance Director Antonio Maurogiovanni, to a focus on the open or heavyweight boats was the catalyst to establishing Irish rowing as not only one of the most successful sports in Ireland but placing Ireland as a powerhouse in world rowing. As Irish rowers move ever closer to the first Olympic qualifying regatta for Paris 2024 this September, the success of the women’s four in Tokyo 2020 has had a positive knock-on effect on the system.

Maurogiovanni saw the opportunity within the Irish community to build a strong team of competitive women in the open class, saying,

“When I arrived in 2016-2017 there was just one woman; Sanita (Puspure). There was a lack of belief in Ireland that we could have senior and heavyweight women. It was almost like a tradition or a historical concept in the bones of the Irish rowers that they felt ‘no, we’re small, we can’t be heavyweight!’. This was in the male and female mindsets. I tried to break through that because I believe rowers are everywhere in the world. You just need to find them and create the right centralised programme and momentum for them.”

Highlighting that success breeds success, the Rowing Ireland high-performance programme is going from strength-to-strength, as they move towards the World Championships in Belgrade, 3 – 10 September. This regatta is the main opportunity for the Irish team to qualify boats for next year’s Olympic Games in Paris, a Games which will see Team Ireland celebrating 100 years of Olympic competition.

This is the first of three films that will mark some of the moments behind Team Ireland’s Tokyo 2020 medallists.

Women's Four with PD Antonio Maurogiovanni and Coach Giuseppe de Vita - photo courtesy of Sportsfile

Ireland’s Top Swimmers Chase International Qualifications

29th March 2023

Swim Ireland’s Irish Open Swimming Championships start on Saturday (1st April) at the Sport Ireland National Aquatic Centre in Dublin. The 5-day event will see almost five hundred swimmers from seventy clubs compete for national titles in thirty-four individual events and for places on seven Irish National Teams, including a home European Under 23 Championships in August.

The Open will be the final opportunity for swimmers to post consideration times for this summer’s international events including the World Championships in Fukuoka, Japan, World Para Swimming Championships in Manchester, United Kingdom, European U23 Championships, European Junior Championships in Belgrade, Serbia, European Youth Olympic Festival in Maribor, Slovenia, Commonwealth Youth Games in Trinidad and Tobago and the European Junior Open Water Championships and LEN Open Water Cups.

Tokyo Olympians and Paralympians competing at the Open will be highlight points for the meet, with recent European record breakers Daniel Wiffen and Róisín NíRíain leading the way in this respect. Wiffen and Mona McSharry have a foot in the door already when it comes to selection for the World Championships based on their performances at the 2022 Commonwealth Games and European Championships respectively. Olympians Danielle Hill, Darragh Greene, Ellen Walshe and Finn McGeever will also compete, while Shane Ryan returns to racing after a period out of action. The Championships in Japan will offer a first opportunity for Irish swimmers to post an Olympic Qualification Time (OQT) for Paris 2024. Paralympic medallists Ellen Keane and Nicole Turner, NíRíain and Barry McClements are all already under consideration for the World Para Swimming Championships in Manchester in August having met the minimum qualification standards.

Speaking ahead of the event, Swim Ireland National Performance Director Jon Rudd commented, “Time flies as always in Performance sport, and with only a few days to go until the Irish Open Championships begins, excitement is mounting, particularly at the prospect of so many National Team places up for grabs this summer. The World Championships in July is the first of three opportunities for our athletes to qualify for the 2024 Olympic Games, so a secured place on this team has additional value on this occasion. The stage is set, the athletes are ready, and we have five terrific days in Dublin to look forward to!”

Press releases will be issued daily.

- END –

International Swimming Events Summer 2023

2023 World Aquatics Championships (50m) in Fukuoka, Japan, July 23rd – 30th 

Pre-selected swimmers - Mona McSharry, Daniel Wiffen.

Selected divers: Clare Cryan, Ciara McGing, Jake Passmore

2023 World Para Swimming Championships in Manchester, United Kingdom, July 31st – August 6th 

Minimum Qualification Standard met: Ellen Keane, Nicole Turner, Róisín NíRíain, Barry McClements

2023 LEN European U23 Swimming Championships in Dublin, Ireland, August 11th – 13th

2023 LEN European Junior Championships in Belgrade, Serbia, July 4th – 9th

2023 EOC European Youth Olympic Festival in Maribor, Slovenia, July 23rd – 29th

2023 Commonwealth Youth Games in Trinidad and Tobago, August 1st – 11th

2023 LEN European Junior Open Water Championships and LEN Open Water Cups

For accreditation for this event please e-mail


Following an overwhelming response in applications to the Make a Difference athlete fund that was announced by the OFI Athletes’ Commission earlier this year, the Olympic Federation of Ireland has channelled an additional €50,000 directly to athletes. Athletes across sixteen sports were awarded a total amount of €115,000 to support their performance. The proceeds of the fund were partially raised by the Make a Difference Golf Day that took place in October 2022.

Athletes targeting both the Summer Olympics in Paris 2024 and the Winter Olympics in Milano Cortina 2026 will benefit from the fund which will support applications detailing projects from training camps to specialist coaches.

Chair of the Olympic Federation of Ireland Athletes’ Commission, Shane O’Connor welcomed the increased amount saying,

“There are a huge number of athletes across a huge number of sports vying for Olympic qualification across the sports. The quality and depth of applications received were very impressive and highlighted that a little extra support to the athletes can really make a huge difference. We are happy as an Athletes' Commission to be able to support this fund, with the backing of the Olympic Federation of Ireland, and the Make a Difference golf fundraiser.”

Team Ireland Chef de Mission for Paris 2024 and 2012 Olympian, Gavin Noble, added,

“I know first-hand the huge personal commitment it takes from an athlete to succeed, both emotionally and financially. The strength and depth of applications that were received demonstrated how supporting tangible projects can make a huge difference in the athletes’ lives, and ultimately their performance. We are very happy to support a range of initiatives, from additional specialist coaching to supporting an individual coach’s travel to events or to fund the addition of a training partner to add depth to a training environment. We are looking forward to showcasing some of these stories in the coming months."


SportAthlete nameAmount
BoxingGráinne Walsh7000
AthleticsKate O'Connor6000
RowingGary O'Donovan5000
SwimmingDaniel Wiffen5000
BadmintonJoshua Magee & Paul Reynolds5000
AthleticsRoisin Flanagan4000
AthleticsSophie Becker4000
RowingDaire Lynch4000
RowingRonan Byrne4000
AthleticsDavid Kenny3000
AthleticsKate Veale3000
AthleticsMolly Scott3000
AthleticsNadia Power3000
CyclingRyan Henderson3000
SailingFinn Lynch3000
SailingRobert Dickson & Sean Waddilove3000
SailingSeafra Guilfoyle & Johnny Durcan3000
Shooting/Clay TargetAoife Gormally3000
SurfingGearoid McDaid3000
SwimmingDarragh Greene3000
SwimmingEllen Walshe3000
SwimmingNathan Wiffen3000
TriathlonJames Edgar3000
TriathlonRussell White3000
WeightliftingTham Nguyen3000
SwimmingMax McCusker1000


SportAthlete nameAmount
SnowsportsThomas Maloney Westgaard7000
Bobsleigh/SkeletonBrendan Doyle3000
LugeElsa Desmond3000
Ice SkatingLiam O'Brien3000
SnowsportsEabha McKenna3000
SnowsportsCormac Comerford3000

Why did you start coaching, what was your avenue into your coaching journey, did someone encourage you in the early days?

At the age of Ten, two events affected my life forever. In 1988 my sporting journey began. I watched in wonder the Seoul Olympics, particularly the Steeplechase. And the Rás Tailteann (RAS - International Cycling Race held in Ireland) passed by my primary school. For me, that was an amazing feeling, the whoosh of the peloton, I got goose bumps,  I held that feeling in my soul for almost 20 years, until I got the opportunity to race bikes.

I immediately started running with the Tullamore Harriers. In track and cross-country, we were quite successful at a national level. My running was interrupted due to several family relocations.

Four years later I had the chance to run again. A highlight was team gold in the Senior Schools cross country. The dream was an athletics scholarship, which I made happen and headed to the USA in 2000. The highlight was running into 5th at NCAA Nationals, and 12th at the Oregon Invitational in the Steeplechase.  I survived the USA scholarship, but if being honest I was totally burnt out from the training over load & lack of support.

Fast forward seven years and that wonder of the RAS was explored. I had won the National Women’s League in my first year on the bike. In 2010, I tested and was invited to join the Irish Paracycling Squad as a sighted tandem pilot with stoker Catherine Walsh. 2012 was very successful for us, we became World Track Champions in the February then in August at the London Paralympic Games we won Silver on the Track (Ireland's first ever Track Cycling Olympic Medal) and bronze in the Road Time Trial. During that time I was still wining road, time-trial, and cyclocross races, the latter I won five national titles in a row.

Cycling Track, 2012 Paralympic Games, Velodrome, London, England 2/9/2012 Women's Individual B Pursuit Final Ireland's Catherine Walsh and her pilot Francine Meehan Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Greg Smith

As part our journey in 2010 we won the world Para Duathlon Championships. Para Triathlon was being introduced to Rio 2016. We were approach to seek qualification for this event. Catherine and I were well established on the bike and we both had a running background. We threw ourselves into the qualification process and thankfully secured a slot. We finished a 8th in Rio, we gave a good account of ourselves we hoped to help put the sport on the map in Ireland.  That is my sporting history, I don’t want the knowledge and experience to go to waste, whether it's fit for sport or for life. I want to give back to the sport, pay it forward, so that’s why I coach.

In 2018 I started Coaching in Cycling: achievements to date would be coaching a C3 female Paracyclist, from beginner to the elite squad and she competed in Tokyo 2020. In 2019  I was coaching two youth girls one went on to take bronze in the National Road Race Championships, the other was top Irish finisher at Summer European Youth Olympic Festival (EYOF). In 2021 I took on a club cyclist with a visual impairment to see if she would like to explore moving to competitive cycling. I used my coaching and piloting skills to ensure she got the necessary experience. She secured a road Medal at the World Championships in Canada 2022. She has transferred to the elite squad and hopes to secure a place in Paris 2024.

What is your ambition in coaching, and what is it that you love about it? Describe a moment that sums up what you love about what you do?

I love identifying an athlete and working through a process and seeing them flourish. My ethos as a coach is to provide opportunity to athletes to become their best self in a balanced, consistent and educated way.

I hope to continue to develop well rounded elite athletes for cycling and triathlon, but if I felt an athlete is better suited to another Olympic discipline then encourage that, because an athletes pinnacle is so short and precious. Or for those who don’t succeed at elite level they would continue to be fit for life. I would encourage everyone to take their lived experience beyond the finish line, pass the baton.

How did the course go? Describe some of the main activities you did?

The opportunity to do the Level 2 World Cycling Centre arose. I approached the OFI who supported me obtaining funding through the Olympic Solidarity Scholarship. I completed the course in February this year. The course covered the Olympic disciplines of Track cycling, Mountain Bike, Road cycling and  BMX, four very different disciplines that demand high levels of technical skill, tenacity and excellent physiology. The participants on the course were from all around the World; Israel, China, Taiwan, Namibia, Kenya, Trinidad and Rwanda. We all shared our different experience and knowledge, but a common goal. The course included becoming a and Mechanics Level one and Bike Fit & National Technical Classifier for Paracycling.

Three Irish divers have been announced to represent Ireland at the upcoming World Aquatics Championships, an opportunity at qualification for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.

European finalists Clare Cryan and Ciara McGing and World Junior medallist Jake Passmore will represent Ireland at the Championships from July 15th – 22nd in Fukuoka, Japan.

Cryan and McGing, have both been selected through their performances at the 2022 European Championships in Rome, where they made finals in their respective events, Cryan on the 3m Springboard and McGing on 10m Platform.

Passmore was selected when he took a silver medal in the 3m Springboard at the London Legacy Open in December 2022.

Cryan will be competing in her third World Championships, her highest ranking coming from the 2019 Championships in Gwangju where she finished 11th overall in the 1m Springboard.

McGing will enter the 10m Platform event for her second World Championships.

18-year-old Passmore will enter the 1m and 3m Springboard events in his first World Championships.

The team will depart in early July stopping in Singapore for a holding camp to help deal with time zone changes before travelling to Fukuoka, Japan for the Championships.

Divers will need to make the Final (top 12) to secure a place for Ireland at the Paris Olympic Games in each of their respective events. Olympic events include the 3m Springboard and 10m Platform.

National Diving Coach Damian Ball commented We are incredibly pleased to have three divers confirmed for the World Championships later this year in Japan. We will relish the opportunity to compete against the very best divers from around the World. Our team is growing in confidence and recent performances suggest that we are on track for a positive summer of international events. The 2023 World Aquatic Championships will be one of a series of events we are targeting in our preparations and endeavours to qualify for the Paris Olympic Games.’

Why did you start coaching, what was your avenue into your coaching journey, did someone encourage you in the early days?

I started coaching as part of my role as a Development Officer within Triathlon Ireland - initially with the schools programme, Triheroes but as my confidence and skill set progressed I became more actively involved in coaching within clubs for both juniors and seniors, as part of New2Tri programmes, skills development for athletes and coaches, and up to High Performance.

Prior to my role in Triathlon Ireland, I was a recreational triathlete - I had (and still have) a huge passion for triathlon and being able to give back in a coaching capacity, particularly to help athletes achieve their potential brings me a huge sense of fulfilment.

I embraced the Triathlon Ireland/World Triathlon Coaching Pathway, initially completing the Trileader course in 2015, followed by World Triathlon Level 1 course in 2019, and recently completing my World Triathlon Level 2 course. Not only did these courses provide me a vast amount of knowledge, it was also an opportunity to learn from the other coaches on these courses. In addition to these courses, I have also completed various CPD modules within the World Triathlon Education and Knowledge Hub such as Physiology of Triathlon - Youth and Juniors, anti-doping courses, and safeguarding courses.

I have received great encouragement from my colleagues within Triathlon Ireland - they have always  believed in me & my desire to coach and put me forward for various coaching programs such as the WISH program (Women in Sport High Performance Pathway).

Working with other colleagues who are coaches is instrumental in my development as a High Performance Coach - they provide a safe space to discuss and develop ideas, a sounding board if I’m uncertain about something, and being a friend guiding me on an continuously evolving journey.

What is your ambition in coaching, and what is it that you love about it? Describe a moment that sums up what you love about what you do.

Regarding my ambition in coaching - having athletes (possibly, now only juniors) at the Olympic Games in LA 2028 or Brisbane 2032! Being part of the Development team within Triathlon Ireland has given me the opportunity to work with some fantastic junior athletes over the last five years, it would be amazing to be a part of their Olympic journey.

One of the stand out moments which sums up what I love about what I do is an event myself and one of my colleagues, Gary, organised with Cork Sports Partnership in Fermoy in Co. Cork. The session was with Rebel Wheelers (Rebel Wheelers is an organisation which facilitates children who are eager to participate in all types of physical activities with an emphasis on sports). Prior to the event, some of the children had never heard of a triathlon, let alone participated in one. Within the safe grounds of Fermoy Leisure Centre and Fermoy Town Park, we organised an aquathon (swim & run) and all involved had an amazing experience, the parents/guardians enjoyed it too, and I did my utmost not to cry as they crossed the finish line with beaming smiles!!

Is there any coach that you admire - why?

I recently had the honour of meeting Liza Burgess and I was blown away by her amazing energy, ethic, and enthusiasm. Liza is a former Welsh women’s rugby union player and captain whose career spanned over three decades, a World Rugby Hall of Famer, and she is currently lead coach for the U20 and U18 (Female Pathway). Liza firmly believes in coaching the person holistically to become a better version of themselves whilst understanding and recognising their vulnerabilities and strengths. Being in Liza’s company, one can only be truly inspired listening to her - she captures the room, people engage with her, and you come away a better person from being in her presence - this is something I can only aspire to be!

How did the course go? Describe some of the main activities you did?

During my time at the WISH residential week I got to meet and work with some very inspiring women - listening to their stories, hearing their challenges, and collaborating to become better coaches. Over the six days of course, we had lots of classroom based sessions around leadership competencies and applying them to our roles as High Performance Coaches. Mixed in with the classroom sessions were practical workshops where we got opportunities to work in small groups with specific goals which helped to create group cohesion.

We had Giselle Mather as a guest speaker who spoke so passionately about her coaching values, coaching philosophy, coaching career and the challenges she faced. We also had  guest speakers from Olympic Solidarity and the International Olympic Committee, World Triathlon, World Sailing, United World Wrestling, and World Rugby to name a few. 


Two Free Entries to be won to celebrate Paris 2024 500 Days To Go

Next Tuesday, the 14th of March, people around the world will be celebrating 500 days to go until the biggest sporting event in the world. The next edition of the summer Olympic Games takes place in Paris from the 26th of July until the 11th of August 2024. To mark the day, the French Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs, and French Embassies around the world will be taking part in the ‘Terre de Jeux 2024’, a virtual relay that happens in each country between 09:00 and 10:00. Each country will be presented with two free entries to the Marathon for All 10km route which will take place in Paris during the Games.

Being in the next time zone to France, the French Embassy in Ireland will be receiving the relay baton from Paris at 09:00 by Olympic Champion Kellie Harrington, Dublin City Council ambassador. During the following hour the Irish leg of the baton relay will see activity taking place in Dublin and right around Ireland.

The Dublin events kick off with a power walk from the French Embassy to Trinity College, followed by skateboarding on Samuel Beckett Bridge, a sport gathering in the Sean Moore Park in Irishtown, which Olympian and broadcaster David Gillick will lead. This will be followed by the passing of the baton to Cape Verde by Paralympic Champion, Ellen Keane at the Poolbeg Lighthouse. During this hour a social media campaign is encouraging sports enthusiasts right around Ireland to share images of themselves running on social media to highlight the Irish involvement.

Next year’s marathon for all event is a unique concept that will attract people globally. Exactly 20,024 people worldwide will participate in the marathon and the 10km event, on the same marathon route as the Olympians during the Paris Olympic Games. With high demand for these entries anticipated, Irish athletes have a golden opportunity next Tuesday to be in with a chance of winning a free entry to the 10km event.


  1. Join the French Embassy in Ireland at the sport gathering with David Gillick in Sean Moore Park in Irishtown in Dublin centre – ENTER HERE.


Speaking about the event, Team Ireland Chef de Mission for Paris 2024, Gavin Noble is encouraging people to get involved in the 500 Days to Go event,  

“Next Tuesday offers a really special opportunity for people to win that entry to the Marathon for All. Paris 2024 have an exciting vision, and after a Games behind closed doors, they are viewing next year’s Olympics as a Games Wide Open. There will be massive demand for these coveted 10km entries, and the 500 Days to Go event offers two easy opportunities for Irish people to get one of two guaranteed Dossards for Ireland.”

H. E. Mr. Vincent Guérend, Ambassador of France to Ireland said,

“We are looking forward to celebrating 500 days to go next Tuesday, along with our colleagues in French Embassies around the world. France is more than ever Ireland’s closest EU neighbour as we will be receiving the baton from Paris. We invite people to join our Irish events on the morning of the 14th of March. Paris 2024 will be an Olympics to remember, and we know it will be an extra special one for the Irish people, as the 100th anniversary of the first time they competed in the Games as Team Ireland.”

For all the details on how to take part and be in with an opportunity of entering the draw to get one of the two free entries to the 10km marathon for all event in Paris, visit THIS WEBSITE.

Liam O'Brien (24) is all set to close out the season this weekend (10-12 March) as he represents Ireland at the KB Financial Group ISU World Short Track Speed Skating Championships in Seoul, South Korea.

The Irish skater will be among a field of over 80 athletes from 34 countries racing for top honours in the men's category. The World Short Track Championships were first held back in 1976. Ireland has been represented at every edition held since 2017.

O'Brien will begin the championships in the early hours of the morning Irish time on Friday, 10 March with the qualifications rounds of the 500, 1000 and 1500 metres distances. Subsequent rounds, quarterfinals, semifinals and finals will take place on Saturday, 11 March and Sunday, 12 March.

This will be the third consecutive appearance at Worlds for O'Brien.

"I hope to represent Ireland strongly and progress into the main event on Saturday and Sunday."

As O'Brien trains in South Korea, he will not have to adjust too much in terms of the environment.

"It feels a little different with Worlds being held only an hour away from my training base. I hope to build on my performance throughout the season."

The KB Financial Group ISU World Short Track Speed Skating Championships will be broadcast online on the ISU YouTube channel. Geographical restrictions may apply. The results of the championships can be followed on the event results page and on social media via the #ShortTrackSkating hashtag.

Event Schedule (IST)

Friday, 10 March

00:30 Men 1500m Quarterfinals

02:11 Men 500m Preliminaries

03:21 Men 500m Heats

04:39 Men 1000m Preliminaries

06:05 Men 1000m Heats

Saturday, 11 March

01:04 Men 1500m Repechage Quarterfinals

01:47 Men 1500m Repechage Semifinals

02:26 Men 500m Repechage Quarterfinals

03:08 Men 500m Repechage Semifinals

05:20 Men 1500m Semifinals

06:09 Men 1500m Finals

06:54 Men 500m Quarterfinals

07:32 Men 500m Semifinals

08:06 Men 500m Finals

Sunday, 12 March

02:15 Men 1000m Repechage Quarterfinals

03:00 Men 1000m Repechage Semifinals

05:19 Men 1000m Quarterfinals

06:00 Men 1000m Semifinals

06:36 Men 1000m Finals

To celebrate International Women’s Day 2023, and Gender Equality Month, the Olympic Federation of Ireland has today announced a series of profiles of some of Ireland’s high-performance female coaches, who have been blazing a trail in Irish Olympic sport. The series kicks off today with interviews with two well-known names in Irish sport, Lisa Jacob (Hockey Ireland Performance Director) and Noelle Morrissey (Athletics Ireland Olympic Coach).

Whilst the Olympic movement is increasingly moving towards gender parity across many arenas, from the athletes on the field of play to the constitution of boards and committees, there exists a significant imbalance in high-performance coaching. In Tokyo 2020 only 8% of coaches representing Team Ireland at the Games were female. This is a statistic that is echoed across the world; 10% of the coaches overall accredited at the Winter Olympics in Beijing were female, and 13% of the coaches at the Summer Olympics were women.

To address this issue, over the coming weeks the Olympic Federation of Ireland is embarking on an independent study to explore some of the challenges that face female coaches and leaders within the high-performance system. The study will combine several methods of research including quantitative, qualitative, desktop and focus groups, and will be run in conjunction with the OFI Gender Equality Commission.

Speaking about her own experience in high-performance sport, Performance Director with Hockey Ireland, Jacob said,

“In high-performance sport, the conversation is not usually about gender, but about whether you’re good enough for the job. The problem often is that women just don’t believe they’re good enough to get involved.”

lisa jacob, hockey

The IOC has also rolled out several initiatives, including the Women in Sport High-Performance Pathway Programme (WISH), which is funded by Olympic Solidarity. This is a joint initiative between Olympic Solidarity and a number of International Federations, bringing together outstanding high-performance coaches from around the world and providing a unique opportunity and environment for learning that will support women high-performance coaches to further develop and progress in their career path. Over the past few months, four Irish coaches have taken part in this programme, and they will be profiled over the coming days.

Morrissey participated in the programme, and describes her step into the high-performance field,

“I didn’t have the confidence initially to do it but, when it transpired that I had such a good relationship with my athletes, I had to upgrade my coaching skills to match them.”

Noelle Morrissey, athletics

The following coaches participated in the WISH pathway programme with IOC;

Throughout March, amplifying the IOC focus on high-performance coaches, the Olympic Federation of Ireland will be profiling some of the top female coaches and leaders in Irish Olympic sport in a move to shine a light on coaching as a profession, and the need to address this imbalance.

The series can be viewed on our social media channels Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.

NOELLE Morrissey and Lisa Jacob have lots in common.

Not only were they both high achieving Irish internationals in athletics and hockey respectively but they retain endless ambition for other women in sport. They both now work in High Performance sport - one fulltime, one a volunteer - but lamentably,  also have one more thing in common now – they are a distinct minority.

Jacob, the High Performance Director of Hockey Ireland since last Autumn, is one of less than a handful of female HPDs in Irish sport. As a coach Morrissey is a similar rarity, even in a sport as integrated and equal as track and field. She’s just coached Sarah Lavin to a third ‘major’ final in 12 months at the recent European Indoor Championships in Istanbul but noted that, of the 32 entrants in Lavin’s 60m hurdles event, only two had a female coach. “You see a lot of women (working) in international (athletics’) teams but not coaching. Female coaches are definitely a minority,” she notes.

The percentage of female coaches across all sports at Tokyo 2020 improved marginally but was still only 13% so a lot of work is needed to bring more women to the coaching and leadership tables.

Why does such a dramatic gender imbalance in coaching and governance continue?

Neither has encountered any obvious or unconscious bias. Jacob, who coached a top men’s club team in Ireland as well as Irish underage women’s teams, says players, especially, don’t care what gender their coach is once you help them achieve their goals.

“People might say stupid things to you sometimes but I think you get that as a woman in general, not because you’re a female coach,” Morrissey observes.“ I’ve been called a ‘feisty little woman’ and heard ‘Oh, you’re the coach?’ but those things don’t bother me.

“I’ve never been made to feel I don’t belong. Athletics is very equal so I never saw people as men or women, just saw them as athletes and there’s so much mutual respect between all of our athletes.”

Noelle Morrissey
Noelle Morrissey coaching Sarah Lavin

So why not more female coaches then?

Both feel motherhood and the guilt that women often feel when away from their children is a genuine factor.

Morrissey has three children. Her youngest is now 23 and it is only in the last seven years that she’s felt able to give the huge time commitment that volunteering in high performance sport demands.

“I was away for 10 days in January for warm weather training, away for another week two weeks ago, then five days for Istanbul and I’m going to be away for 10 days in April, on top of other competitions. I’m self-employed and if I wasn’t and didn’t have such great family support I certainly couldn’t do this.

“When I got a chance to coach at the World Student Games in 2017 I couldn’t go because of work but my family said ‘no, you will go! We’ll do the work for you.’ You really need enormous support around you.”

“If you have kids and a fulltime job and a family, the time involved makes it hard for women,” Jacob says.

“People will say: ‘But men do it? Why the difference?’ I can’t speak for men but I know personally,  that now that we have a six-month old son I find it more difficult to leave him to coach. You’re balancing time with your team versus time with your child. That’s not easy.”

Both also feel that women fail to recognise their strengths and the contribution they could make as coaches and say their relative lack of confidence (compared to men) often gets in their own way.

“I think you only get confidence by taking action and moving into something that might make you uncomfortable, to see ‘can I?’ Even for my current job I did an interim period to see if my skills matched up to it,” Jacob says.

“But seriously you really have to get yourself educated. Do all the courses, find a mentor, find good S&C and physios and build a great team around you. You need to have confidence to do that but doing that also gives you such confidence.”

Both agree that mentoring is vital for women to progress but Jacob feels “you can’t just parachute a mentor on someone. You have to be very considered about the fit and the mentee needs to have some input.” She also draws a major distinction between education and development.

“A big thing for us in Hockey Ireland now is coach development. Lots of sports offer multi-levelled coaching badges available either nationally or internationally."

Morrissey freely admits to suffering from imposter syndrome when Lavin, whom she’d coached to a European Junior silver medal, moved into the senior ranks. She genuinely expected to hand her on to a more experienced international coach at that stage.

“I didn’t have the confidence initially to do it but, when it  transpired that I had such a good relationship with my athletes, I had to upgrade my coaching skills to match them.” She turned up in Thames Valley AC in England, asking a coach she didn’t know, to ‘give me all your knowledge.’
“And he still mentors me!” she laughs.

“But there’s a big difference between education and development. When it comes to High Performance especially it’s the scope for development that you provide to people that will create change.
“In HP sport the conversation is not usually about gender but about whether you’re good enough for the job. The problem often is that women just don’t believe they’re good enough to get involved,” Jacob notes.

“You can’t romanticise it. HP sport is a tough business and there is a big leap to working from national level to international level, just as there is when you’re an athlete. “In Hockey Ireland we’re looking at new ways to induct more women to it, to find schedules and formats that work better for them. I’d love to see more women making that leap.”

Morrissey recently benefitted from taking part in the WISH Programme – the ‘Women in Sport High Performance Pathway’ – which the IOC has established at the University of Hertfordshire and to which international federations and national Olympic committees nominate candidates.

“We were all nuts about our sport and all make huge sacrifices for it. To find a group of women who were all of the same mind, all having the same challenges and the same guilt hanging around us but also  who had so much confidence and potential and support for each other, was just amazing. I’d already say I’ve made friends for life from it.”






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