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Olympics

'We have to shame politicians into funding sports' | Olympics review

Ciaran Bradley
Ciaran Bradley

21:31 10 Aug 2021


Journalist Cathal Dennehy joined us to discuss what can be done to improve funding for sport after a golden Olympic showing from Team Ireland.

While top spots may have only been reserved for Fintan McCarthy, Paul O'Donovan and Kellie Harrington, Dennehy was quick to point out another as particularly having over-performed.

Olympics review

"Coming from an athletics background, I'm aware that a performance that doesn't get a medal never gets the attention ever that it deserves. But I think that Mona McSharry, as a 20-year-old, to make an Olympic final is an outstanding achievement.

"I would compare swimming very much with athletics because what they see as a top eight in those sports you could almost see as a top three in boxing or rowing because of how global it is and the depth that's there.

"The numbers that you have to wade through to get into the top eight [is impressive].  Mona McSharry was a junior star - World Junior champion.

"For Mona to have come over the last three years and develop over the last three years into the swimmer that she is, it is just phenomenal.

"Paris is just three years away, there is no reason she can't be thinking medals - but there are obviously many rivers to cross before then."

Sports funding

Dennehy focused attention on those holding the purse strings.

"I've long believed, and other sportspeople would have seen this, that sports funding operates as a reward system. We fund the people who are pretty much good enough for the final two to three steps on that journey, when there are about 20 steps on that journey.

"So much of it is reliant on volunteer coaching and support of parents. I know so many stories of people who would and could have made it if they'd had that financial support when they needed it most. Maybe it was one injury that needed surgery, needing someone to pay their rent for six months or funding a training camp abroad for six weeks to prepare for a qualifying event.

"A lot of those people in that situation in Ireland are not where they need to be. We saw it with Jack Chambers and the balancing of the grants across the GAA, with a brush of a pen there was millions found.

"It is quite clear that that can be found, but it is almost as if they are shamed into doing it. We almost need to shame them into funding them properly for the next Olympic cycle."

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