GAA and Katie Taylor top of the pile in annual survey of Ireland’s sporting favourites

Dublin’s six-in-a-row winners are the public’s team of the year, according to a national survey
GAA and Katie Taylor top of the pile in annual survey of Ireland’s sporting favourites

Katie Taylor remains, by far, Ireland's most admired athlete. Photo by Mark Robinson / Matchroom Boxing

Gaelic games have consolidated their place as the nation’s favourite sport, Dublin’s six-in-a-row winners are the public’s team of the year, and Katie Taylor remains, by far, the most admired Irish athlete.

Those results come from the Teneo Sport and Sponsorship Index, a representative survey of 1,000 people, now in its 11th year. The research was carried out between January 14 and 19.

Gaelic games polled the favourite sport among 24% of those surveyed, extending its lead over soccer (14%), which had previously ranked top in the first eight surveys until 2018, and rugby (13%).

When it comes to sports that people “like” but aren’t necessarily their favourite, tennis (18%), golf (15%), athletics (13%), horse racing (13%), and boxing (12%) all poll strongly.

The Dublin senior footballers, tied first with the Irish women’s hockey side last year, take the team of the year prize after winning an unprecedented sixth consecutive All-Ireland. They ranked a mere percentage point above Limerick’s invincible hurlers (23%), with the Leinster Rugby team, unbeaten in the PRO14 in 2020, third on 20%.

Dublin’s ladies footballers also broke into the top-five, on 12%, just ahead of the Dundalk team who qualified for the Europa League group stage.

Katie Taylor hoovered up the votes as most admired athlete (30%), most memorable sporting moment for beating Delfine Persoon in their world-title rematch (32%), and greatest sporting achievement for the same victory (27%).

Taylor has ranked as Ireland’s most admired athlete in six of the last eight years, only knocked off top spot by Paul O’Connell (2015) and Conor McGregor (2016). 

This year, Johnny Sexton (6%) polls closest, with his fellow Ireland half-back Conor Murray, golfers Shane Lowry and Pádraig Harrington, hurler Joe Canning, and cyclist Sam Bennett close behind.

Bennett’s green jersey heroics and sprint victory on the Champs-Élysées at the Tour de France also saw him ranked second for the most memorable sporting moment and greatest achievement.

His Tipperary colleagues, the Premier senior footballers, also polled highly for their first Munster SFC title success in 85 years, outranking Limerick and Dublin’s All-Ireland victories, and Waterford’s semi-final win, in the memories of the public.

The top-five most anticipated sporting events of 2021 are much the same as last year, given the postponement of the Olympics (20%) and Euro 2020, although the latter takes a significant hit, down from 17% to 10%, after Ireland’s failure to qualify.

Combined, all four Gaelic games’ All-Irelands gather 30% of the vote, with the upcoming Six Nations also highly anticipated at 17%.

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