16 June 2023; Team two Olympian Jordan Conroy, left and Olympian Shane Ryan during the Team Ireland Make a Difference Golf Day at The K Club in Straffan, Kildare. Photo by David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile 


Team Ireland Make a Difference Golf Tournament Held at K-Club

Fundraiser from event to positively impact athletes

Yesterday, the Olympic Federation of Ireland hosted the second Make a Difference Golf Tournament at the K-Club in Co. Kildare. The aim of the event is to raise money for the Make a Difference Athletes’ Fund, from which athletes are awarded grants to assist them with their specific goals. Last year’s funds contributed to a funding pot of €115,000 that was distributed amongst 33 athletes out of a pot of 79 applicants.


The day-time tournament was a four-ball scramble format, with teams consisting of Olympians, Team Ireland sponsors, partners, corporates, and key stakeholders. Following the competition, the golfers moved to the Palmer North Course dining room, for the evening event which had Olympic Bronze Medallist Rob Heffernan as MC. The event included an auction led by comedian Barry Murphy, with Olympian Eamonn Coghlan integral to the establishment of the initiative.


Last year’s fund contributed significantly to the progress of many athletes in a variety of different ways, with the grants ranging from financing training camps and specialist coaches to accessing additional performance support.


For athletes, the journey to each Olympic Games involves a constant quest for marginal gains across all areas to make sure that no stone is unturned in their pursuit of excellence. However, significant investment is required, both from a time and financial perspective, to reach their goals, from training camps to nutrition and coaching, to travel and competitions. For some elite athletes, the competition season spans almost 12 months, with much of that time spent overseas, training and competing with other athletes and coaches to achieve their best.  


The keynote speaker at the evening event was Tokyo Olympian Jordan Conroy, who spoke about his journey into world-class Rugby Sevens,

“When you start off in sport, you never really know where it will take you. I stumbled into Rugby Sevens, and it has given me so many opportunities. If you told the eighteen-year-old me, lost after finishing the Leaving Cert, that I would be standing here as an Olympian, as a World Series medallist, I would never have believed it. A fund like this is something that makes that jump up into high-performance sport that bit easier for young athletes, whether it is to assist with transport costs, access to facilities, or specialised coaching, every little bit helps. I know that I have benefited enormously from some of the people who helped me along the way.”


Commercial Director with the Olympic Federation of Ireland, Catherine Tiernan added,

“Yesterday’s golf day was a tremendous success on many levels. Not only did all the attendees get to enjoy a day of golf on one of Ireland’s best courses, but we also raised funds that will directly impact athletes. The money that we raised at last year’s event went towards a grant that benefited 33 athletes. We know that the path to being a high-performance athlete comes with a huge financial commitment as well as everything else and that these grants can make a huge difference to athletes, specifically those making a jump into elite level.”


There are some great examples of how athletes availed of their grants, with the amounts ranging from €2500 to €7000. Weightlifter Tham Nguyen used her grant to fund a training camp ahead of the European Championships, as an athlete who juggles a full-time business and motherhood with being a high-performance athlete, access to this time to focus on her sport contributed to a European Bronze medal last month.


Winter Olympian Thomas Maloney Westgaard progressed to the top fifteen at the Beijing Olympics, without his own specific coach, his grant allows him to work more closely with a coach who can individualise a programme for him as he strives towards Milano Cortina 2026.


Badminton players Joshua Magee and Paul Reynolds used their grant to bring a doubles team to Ireland to train with them as they prepared for the European Games. This meant that instead of having to travel to avail of quality competition, they were able to arrange for sparring partners to come to Ireland.


Donations to the Make a Difference Fund can be made HERE.

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