"People only understand two things - time and money"

Bobby Kerr meets Ireland's leading sports agents...

"People only understand two things - time and money"

Brian Lawless/PA Wire/PA Images

"There is a handful, in Ireland, of the top rugby players [who] make any decent sort of money from sponsorships. So the bulk of the work, certainly that I do is on contacts," Niall Woods, managing director of Navy Blue Sports Management told Newstalk's Down to Business.

His company specialises in rugby and has the likes of Isa Nacewa, Garry Ringrose, Jordi Murphy, and Andrew Conway on its books.

He spends a lot more time bogged down in contractual terms and conditions than signing big-money endorsement deals.

Niall was joined by Line Up Sports Media Entertainment director David Mc Hugh, and Galvin Sports Management founder Sinead Galvin to tell Bobby Kerr about the business of representing Ireland's sports stars.

David also focuses on rugby, among other sports, and his clients include Sean O'Brien, Rob Kearney, Andy Lee, and Aidan O'Shea.

He agrees that the 'first five names on the team sheet' will be in the running for commercial deals, while his main task is ensuring that all players receive what they are worth at the end of contract negotiations.

"We all pride ourselves on having a loyal following and community in our stables, but at the end of the day, there are only two things that people understand - time and money. So that is the driver of relationships," he told Newstalk.

Sinead's business has tapped into a market to help Irish athletes to make money through associations with brands, with a special focus on social media.

A number of her clients are Olympians and she spends her days "hustling" to find the right brands for her sports people to work with.

She notes that individual athletes can have an advantage over rugby and GAA team members as they are not constrained by PR officers limiting what they can and can't say in public.

Sinead works with her athletes to boost their all-important reach and engagement stats across their social channels.

"Ultimately brands will look at who is going to give the biggest reach and the biggest engagement," she told Bobby highlighting the fact that her clients are not just pitted against other sports stars as brands look to YouTubers and other 'influencers' to boost their brand awareness.