Paraic Duffy

former Director General, GAA

Paraic Duffy was the 18th Director General of the Gaelic Athletic Association and a former chairman of the Monaghan county board. He replaced Liam Mulvihill in February 2008 and was succeeded by Tom Ryan in April 2018. Paraic was the GAA's player welfare officer from 2006, prior to his appointment as Director General on February 1, 2008. In 2006, Duffy was the chairman of the National Audit Committee and worked on the Coaching and Games Development Committee between 2003 and 2006. He also has previously chaired the GAA's Games Administration Committee between 2000 and 2003. During his playing years as a Gaelic footballer, Paraic had played with Castleblayney Faughs and was one of the selectors of the Monaghan senior county side between 1983 and 1987. He was previously a Secondary School Principal at St Macartan's College in County Monaghan.


Keith Kelly, Jumpers for Goal Posts

Keith is 49, married with 3 children and living in Ballybrack, Co Dublin. A bricklayer by trade, he started voluntary work with Suicide or Survive 6 years ago, initially helping out with fundraising events, then volunteering in the office with admin and now facilitating a Mental health program called WRAP. Keith has been hugely committed to his volunteer roles and now also represent Suicide or Survive at functions and events around the country.


Benny Cullen, Sport Ireland

Benny is the Partnerships and Governance Manager in Sport Ireland. Benny and his team work with the Local Sports Partnerships to develop projects and investment streams to tackle inactivity, especially amongst under represented target groups of socio-economic disadvantage, ethnic minorities, people with a disability, women, older adults and young people.  Benny is a qualified Kayaking Coach, Trail Cycle Leader, and Mountaineer as well as an experienced Sport Ireland Coach Educator.  Benny loves being active.  At lunch time you’ll frequently see him running or playing soccer with his colleagues on the sports campus.  At weekends you’ll most likely find him somewhere in the Wicklow mountains kayaking with friends, hiking with family or mountain biking with his wife.


Nina Arwitz, CEO Volunteer Ireland

Nina is CEO of Volunteer Ireland, the national volunteer development organisation, which connects communities through volunteering. She has worked in various roles in the non-for profit sector and seen first hand the  extraordinary impact that  volunteers can have.  Nina sits on the Sport Leadership Group tasked by the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport  with overseeing  delivery of the National Sports  Policy, which includes important actions around  facilitating sport volunteering.  Half of  volunteering in Ireland happens in sport, so she is delighted and honoured to be part  of  this judging panel.


Shane O’Connor, former Olympian & Chair of OFI Athlete Commission

Shane is a Winter Olympian and former Alpine Ski racer. He competed in 2010 Winter Olympics plus 5x World Champs in 1993, 2003, 2005, 2007 & 2009. He has also held various Team Ireland support roles for Winter Olympics in 2014 and 2018. In his day job Shane is responsible for European Technology Risk Management in a proprietary trading firm called Susquehanna International. Shane is an avid sporting volunteer and holds voluntary roles as Chair of the OFI Athlete Commission and OFI exceutive board member; Performance Director for Snowsports Association of Ireland and executive board member; general secretary of an international group, ‘Small Emerging Ski Nations’ and Chair of the Gymnastics Ireland executive board. He is also a member of the DTTAS Sports Leadership Group tasked with developing a strategy to implement the governments National Sports Policy.


Trevor Ringland, former Irish Rugby International

Trevor is a Northern Irish solicitor, former rugby player and politician. From June 2013 to July 2014, he served as Co-Chairman of the NI Conservatives. After attending Larne Grammar School, he read law at Queen's University Belfast. Ringland made 31 competitive appearances for Ireland, scoring nine tries. The majority of his appearances came in the Five Nations & 1987 Rugby World Cup. He also represented Ulster and Ballymena. Ringland is also active with Peace Players International, an organisation devoted to promoting inter-religious unity in Belfast through sport.


DR Maura Farrell, Professor at NUIG

Dr Maura Farrell is currently a full time lecturer in the School of Geography and Archaeology, Chairperson of the School’s Teaching and Learning Committee and Director of the MA in Rural Sustainability within the Discipline of Geography. She is extremely active outside university life, having been appointed to committees and organisations both nationally and internationally. These include an appointment by the Minister for Rural and Community Development to the Monitoring Committee for the Action Plan for Rural Development and by DG-AGRI to an evaluation and reflection group for the LEADER Programme. Maura was also appointed as evaluator by the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine for the European Innovation Partnership for Agriculture.


Mary Nolan Hickey, Volunteer fundraiser, RNLI

Mary is the only woman to have completed every single Dublin Marathon, all 38 of them, one of them in which she was over six months pregnant! She’s also completed the gruelling Marathon des Sables in the Sahara Desert, known as the ‘toughest footrace on earth’, has won the Wicklow Way Ultra, and ran several city marathons including London and Boston.
In 2018 Mary ran around the entire coast of the island of Ireland to raise funds for the RNLI. Over the years, Mary has worked every job under the sun, from sports centres to factories and hotels. When she was 59, she opened her own café in Arklow, Co Wicklow.


Joanne O’Riordan, Journalist and Activist

Joanne O’Riordan studied criminology in UCC and is only one of seven people in the world living with a rare physical disability known as Total Amelia. Joanne first gained attention for skipping school to confront then Taoiseach Enda Kenny about his proposed plan to reduce disability funding during his election. In April 2012, she spoke before the UN and challenged the body to create technology to help disabled people such as herself. She was named Young Person of the Year at the People of the Year awards in 2012. Joanne is an activist for people with disabilities, a motivational speaker and a sports columnist with The Irish Times. She appears in the 2013 documentary No Limbs No Limits.


Jimmy Deenihan, Politician

Jimmy is a former Irish Fine Gael politician who served as Minister of State for the Diaspora from 2014 to 2016, Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht from 2011 to 2014 and Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry from 1994 to 1997. Jimmy served as a senator and then a TD up until his retirement from politics in 2016. Jimmy, a Kerry native, played Gaelic football with Kerry in the 1970s and 1980s. He also played rugby with Garryowen.


Des Fitzgerald Dip Mgt, MBA, FIOD, FIBI, FSII

Appointed Managing Director of EBS d.a.c. in July 2012, Des has 23 years of financial services experience. Prior to joining EBS, his experience in financial services saw him hold positions in the Life and Banking Industry. His Life Assurance experience was gained as an Area Manager for Lifetime and as CEO of Citadel Financial Advice. In banking he held positions as General Manager and CEO of First Active and then a combined role within the RBS Group as Managing Director of the Ulster Bank and First Active retail brands. The rest of his career was spent in IT where he held various positions culminating as Managing Director of ICL Ireland Ltd. From a sporting perspective, Des has been involved in a wide range of sports including GAA, Boxing, Weightlifting and Rugby. He is a former Irish Rugby International and British Lion.


Michelle Dwyer, Director EBS

My name is Michelle Dwyer I’m a director with EBS agency Cahirciveen, Co. Kerry. I’ve been with EBS over 20 years dealing with the day to day running of the business. As a sports enthusiast I’ve successfully participated in various different sports including Basketball, Athletics, Football & Badminton. My current involvement with the community games & local Basketball club means I get to work first hand with the most amazing volunteers also having participated in the Ring of Kerry Cycle on a couple of occasions and numerous running events organised for charity the selflessness of people never ceases to amaze me that’s why I’m both privileged and excited to be part of this team.