Olympic medal hopefuls receive Sport Ireland funding boost

February 26th, 2024 8:30 AM

By Kieran McCarthy

Fintan McCarthy and Paul O'Donovan celebrate their 2023 world title success.

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OLYMPIC champions Paul O’Donovan and Fintan McCarthy’s hopes of defending their crown at the Games in Paris this summer have received a timely funding boost.

The Skibbereen rowers are two of just 33 athletes that have been awarded the top category of Podium funding (€40,000) announced in Sport Ireland’s 2024 International Carding Scheme.

Local rowers – and Rowing Ireland, in general – were amongst the big winners as Sport Ireland revealed its high performance investment for 2024, with €25 million being invested for the final year of the Paris Olympic cycle.

Of the 123 athletes across 16 sports who will benefit from the international carding scheme, five West Cork Olympic hopefuls will receive funding. As well as Olympic men’s lightweight double champions Paul O’Donovan and Fintan McCarthy receiving the top Podium funding, so too will Skibbereen rowers Aoife Casey and Emily Hegarty. Casey has already helped qualify the Irish women’s lightweight double for the Paris Games, while Tokyo bronze medallist Emily Hegarty has her sights set on becoming a back-to-back Olympian.

Sixteen Rowing Ireland athletes will receive Podium funding, and that’s the most of any sport – compare that to three in athletics and four in boxing – which highlights the success of Irish rowers in recent years.

Bantry AC’s Darragh McElhinney will benefit from International funding (€18,000), an increase on the pool funding he received in the 2022 carding scheme. While Bandon Athletic Club’s Phil Healy has lost her individual funding – the Ballineen sprinter received €18k in the 2022 scheme – she will come under the world class pool funding of €60k announced for both Athletics Ireland’s 4x400m women’s and 4x400m mixed relay teams. Also, Cill na Martra boxer Christina Desmond will receive International funding of €18k, too.

‘This record funding announcement for High Performance Sport highlights the strong level of support for Team Ireland as we look ahead to the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Paris this summer. We have seen public investment in High Performance Sport rise from €14m in 2018 to a record €25m this year,’ Minister of State for Sport and Physical Education Thomas Byrne TD said.


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