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Derek McGrath

Sport has played a major part in Derek’s career, having played rugby for Ireland in the pre-professional era and later became involved in the running of the professional game as CEO of ERC the organisers of the Heineken Cup which over the period of his involvement became a success story for rugby and professional sport. During his tenure the development of an ambitious strategic direction for the properties provided a clear direction for a multi-cultural family of stakeholders. This vison enabled revenues for TV and Sponsorship rights to multiply which were distributed to all the participating stakeholders.

The Curragh Racecourse is regarded as the headquarters for Irish Racing and is host to all the Classic races which show-case the best of Irish Flat racing. The Curragh formed a new company in 2015 and undertook a complete redevelopment of it’s facilities and Training Grounds supported by private and public funding to produce a truly world-class sporting and events facility. Derek was appointed as the first CEO of the new venture – a structure that was an innovation of it’s own which brought governing body, regulator and private industry interests from the sport into a shared funding of the project. The redevelopment took 3-years, and during this time had the added challenge that demolition and construction took place alongside an all-year round training facility and the changing venue also hosted the staging of 55 race meetings during the redevelopment. In addition to overseeing such a sizeable project, Derek also conducted a transformation of the business to prepare for the opening of the new venue which would provide services and an experience new to visitors to the Curragh.

Derek qualified as a Veterinary Surgeon in University College Dublin and worked both in Ireland and the UK before joining Rhone Poulenc Animal Health (later known as Merial Animal Health) where he held positions in technical services and marketing, before taking up the post of Country Manager for the Merial business in Ireland.

Volunteer work included chairman of a school management board, president of Irish University Rugby Union, and a director at Basketball Ireland. Derek also acts as a visiting fellow with the World Academy of Sport.

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Jonathan Taylor

Partner Bird & Bird

Jonathan Taylor QC is co-head of Bird & Bird's International Sports Group. He is one of the world’s leading sports lawyers, advising governing bodies and rights-holders, event organisers and commercial partners nationally and internationally on cutting-edge commercial, regulatory, and contentious issues across all major sports. He was the chair of WADA's independent Compliance Review Committee from 2016-2020 and of the IBU External Review Commission (2018-2020), and also conducted both the Governance Review and the Bury FC Review for the English Football League in 2019. He appears regularly as an advocate before the Court of Arbitration for Sport and other sports tribunals. He is co-editor of the leading treatise on sports law, Lewis and Taylor, Sport: Law & Practice (Bloomsbury, 4th Edn, 2020).

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Nigel Heneghan

Managing Director Heneghan Strategic Communications

Nigel Heneghan is managing director of Heneghan where he provides strategic communications counsel to a number of leading national and international clients. He is widely recognised within business circles, as one of the country’s foremost corporate communications advisers. He specialises in strategic corporate communications, financial public relations and crisis management. Before joining the agency in 1990 as a founder director, he worked in London and the Middle East. Nigel is a former president of The Public Relations Institute of Ireland and a former Chairman of the Public Relations Consultants Association. He is a Government-appointed member of the Compliance Committee of the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland. He is a Government-appointed Member of the Company of Social Innovation Growth Fund Ireland, which provides cash grants and business supports to  social innovations. He serves on the Board of Community Creations CLG, which operates SpunOut.ie and Crisis Text Line.