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O’Neill’s bemoans impact of shorter GAA season on replica jersey sales

Media regulator’s new hires, Tirlán recruits McConalogue’s adviser, insolvency weekend away

The contraction of the All Ireland senior championships, with the football final being played on July 30th, is bad news for O’Neill’s, the sportswear brand synonymous with the GAA. Sales of replica county jerseys are down by 4 to 5 per cent this year, following a 20 per cent decline in 2022.

“We have lost seven to eight weeks of selling in August and September due to the earlier All Irelands,” says James Towell, the company’s financial controller. “So we are down 25 per cent from the peak of 2019.”

Another drawback of cramming the championships into a few months is that there’s just a fortnight between the quarter finals and the semi-finals, and between the semis and the final. “With the shorter gaps between games, there’s less sense of anticipation,” Towell says. “With three or four weeks between semi-final and final, people really get excited.”

And buy more replica jerseys.


When a surprise team emerges, such as Monaghan in this year’s football championships, the short break between games can leave O’Neill’s workforce of 1,000 struggling, even though all their manufacturing is done in Ireland. “Sometimes we don’t have time to make enough jerseys to meet the demand,” Towell says.

Energy prices have also been a drag on the business, with bills doubling last year. O’Neill’s knitting factory is in Strabane, while the greige fabric is dyed and finished in Dublin, a process that needs high heat from gas. “Energy prices have come back down in the South somewhat, but remain at the same level in the North,” Towell says. “Overall, energy costs are still over 50 per cent above 2021 levels.”

O’Neill’s is thriving in other markets, especially Australia, where it has partnered with Penrith Panthers in rugby league and Brumbies in rugby union, and also in the UK, where it has two rugby league teams and recently signed up with Bristol City, which is in the English Football League Championship.

“Our top two selling replicas are Dublin, who did the double in the men’s and ladies’ football this year, and Penrith Panthers, who won the National Rugby League grand final for a record third time in a row a few weeks ago,” says Towell. “We are expecting a surge in sales in the run-up to Christmas, particularly with the new Dublin jersey.”

But who will replace AIG as the sponsor’s name on that jersey? Tomás Quinn, the commercial and marketing director at Dublin GAA, told me: “Our agreement with AIG is still in place until the end of October, so we won’t be announcing anything until after that.”

Media regulator’s new hires

“People are quite keen to come and work with us,” Jeremy Godfrey, executive chair of Coimisiún na Meán, said recently. Indeed they are: the media regulator has snapped up staff from RTÉ, the Oireachtas media committee and media minister Catherine Martin’s office. The most recent recruit is Tanya Warren, who has been hired by Coimisiún na Meán as its director of policy. Warren has been a special adviser to Catherine Martin since September 2020, with responsibility for policy, and was earning a salary of €103,358.

She will be joining Sinead Crowley, the former RTÉ journalist who is director of media development at the regulator. Another of its recent hires is Calum Fabb, who had been a policy adviser to the Oireachtas media committee and is now, according to his LinkedIn page, contributing to the development of regulatory policy for online safety.

The commission’s recruitment campaign continues. It was launched last March with 40 staff, but now has over 70, and “we hope to reach 160 early next year”, Godfrey has said. “We think we need to be bigger than that, and have had positive signals [from government] that we will be allowed to do that.” Currently advertising roles in its senior management layer, the regulator has had “a quite overwhelming response”, he added. With RTÉ and other media organisations shrinking, the Coimisiún will no doubt continue to be overwhelmed.

Tirlán recruits McConalogue’s adviser

Apart from Catherine Martin, another minister losing their special adviser is Charlie McConalogue at Agriculture House. Darran Brennan, a solicitor from Donegal who had a role in programme management for the minister, is leaving for Tirlán, the dairy co-operative formerly known as Glanbia Ireland. He will be head of governmental affairs, a new role under its ESG team led by Lisa Koep.

McRedmond signs three-year contract

Not going anywhere is David McRedmond, who has now signed a three-year contract extension as chief executive of An Post. A company spokesman said it was with the “same terms as his initial contract”. An Post is allowing McRedmond to continue as chairman of Eir, the telecoms company. He was first appointed there in 2018 for a term of three years, which was also extended, and Eir says the current contract is in place until 2024.

The upside of insolvency

The annual congress of Insol Europe, a group of professionals who specialise in bankruptcy and insolvency, doesn’t sound like a fun weekend, even in Amsterdam. Except when the Irish are in charge. The outgoing president of the European association is Barry Cahir, a partner at Beauchamps in Dublin, while Enda Lowry, managing director at Teneo, and Carmel King, a director at Grant Thornton, were among the organisers of last weekend’s get-together.

The schedule included a speech giving a “fascinating insight” into the bankruptcy of Rembrandt, followed by a “cyber game session”, which one delegate described as “eye-opening”. The insolvency experts were then encouraged to “let their hair down at our gala drinks reception and dinner”, but not let it down too much because next morning, at 7.20am, delegates gathered at the hotel reception for a 5km run around Amsterdam.

The weekend was rounded off with a boat trip on the canals. Gemma Freeman, a partner at Dentons, posted: “Well done to all who managed the stellar networking while navigating the (100s of) bridges.” Just imagine the newspaper headlines if the insolvency experts had not stayed afloat.

O’Brien encourages women in abusive relationships to seek help

Digicel founder Denis O’Brien has encouraged women in abusive relationships to seek help. The businessman was speaking at a thanksgiving service in Kingston, Jamaica, for Heather Moyston, a Digicel manager who was the victim of a murder-suicide. Last August she was shot dead by her husband, who then killed himself.

“We now know that Heather suffered in her private life in an abusive relationship,” O’Brien told the congregation. “And I am sorry if this offends some people by me saying this but, in Heather’s memory, I hope that other women will come forward and seek the help that is available to them.”

O’Brien also announced that, in recognition of Heather Moyston’s dedication to the Digicel Foundation, where she was group administration manager, it would refurbish a secondary school in Portland in her memory.

In an email to all Digicel staff after the tragedy, O’Brien said any female employee in a similar situation to Heather Moyston should know the company would help them in any way possible, “including relocation to a temporary home, access to counselling and legal advice, and covering legal bills”. Digicel set up a confidential email address – – where staff could ask for assistance.

“No one can turn away from this issue; I value highly and have too much respect for all my female colleagues,” O’Brien’s email said. “Unfortunately, Heather was the victim of a violent domestic relationship. [Neither] she, nor anyone else, should be embarrassed by this.”