New and ‘renewed’ faces at Horse Sport Ireland

Michael Blake pictured on the podium with his team following victory in the 2021 Portuguese Nations Cup in Vilamoura.
Michael Blake pictured on the podium with his team following victory in the 2021 Portuguese Nations Cup in Vilamoura. Blake has signed a contract extension as High-Performance Jumping Director through to 2024. © Vilamoura Equestrian Centre

There have been several personnel changes in recent days at Horse Sport Ireland, with new appointments and departures announced by the governing body.

Dr Linsey Mason
Dr Linsey Mason. © HSI

Following an external recruitment process, Dr Linsey Mason has been appointed as Medical and Anti-Doping Officer for Horse Sport Ireland (HSI).

The anti-doping officer is the main liaison person between HSI and Sport Ireland on all anti-doping issues. Mason holds a Master’s degree in Sports Medicine from Trinity College Dublin, has extensive anti-doping professional training and a special interest in the assessment of sports-related injuries, evidence-based rehabilitation and recovery strategies.

Mason, from Cahir, Co Tipperary, is an active racecourse doctor with the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board and has worked for several years as a doctor on the IHRB panel at point-to-points and racecourses.

Mason has been Chief Medical Officer for Millstreet International Horse Trials since 2018, and has worked as a doctor at the Dublin Horse Show, along with national and international Eventing competitions.

Alison Corbally
Alison Corbally. © HSI

Alison Corbally has left her role as Director of Breeding and Programmes to pursue other career goals. Corbally joined HSI in September 2007 as Education and Training Manager, having previously worked with the Equestrian Federation of Ireland from July 2001.

During her tenure with Horse Sport Ireland, Corbally was promoted to the role of Director of Breeding and Programmes from November 2008 and had responsibility for national breeding and studbook policy, and the development of the HSI Coaching programme in Ireland.

Dr Sonja Egan has been appointed on an interim basis as the head of breeding until the open recruitment process is concluded. Egan has worked with the breeding team since 2019 and holds a PhD from UCD in Equine Biomechanics.

Irish Show Jumping team manager Michael Blake has signed a new contract extension, keeping the Co Clare native in his current role as Irish Show Jumping High-Performance Director throughout the current Olympic cycle into 2024.

His role has been extended to enable a greater involvement with Ireland’s Youth Show Jumping programme, working in collaboration with the team managers of Irish teams from Pony (U16) level up to the Young Rider grade (U21).

Blake took up his position as team manager and Chef d’Equipe towards the end of the 2019 season, having previously held the roles of Senior Jumping Development Manager and Assistant Team Manager to the Irish Senior Show Jumping team.

Michael Blake.
Michael Blake. © HSI

In recent months Blake has overseen the debut of several young riders at Senior Nations Cup level, and also guided Ireland to two memorable Nations Cup victories during 2021 at Vilamoura in Portugal and Drammen in Norway. He was also at the helm when Ireland was runner-up in the 2021 Longines FEI Nations Cup Finals in Barcelona against the world’s best teams.

And on Friday, the first five-star international Grand Prix of the 2022 season went to Ireland after Tipperary’s Shane Breen took out the €150,000 Longines Grand Prix of the United Arab Emirates in Abu Dhabi.

Following an interview process, James Kernan has been reappointed as Youth (U14, U18 and U21) Show Jumping team manager until October 31, 2024.

Kernan has managed numerous Irish youth riders to medal success at European level over the years.

Gary Marshall has been reappointed as Pony (U16) team manager until October, 2024. Marshall has managed the Irish pony team to multiple European medals and Nations Cup victories.

HSI CEO Denis Duggan said the continuation of all three of Show Jumping team managers would give stability to HSI’s High-Performance Programmes.

“They have all in the past provided strong leadership at the top level of the sport and their experience and commitment will be hugely important for what promises to be an exciting season ahead.”

The three team managers for Ireland’s Youth Eventing High-Performance Programme up to October 31, 2024, have also been announced.

Sue Shortt has been reappointed as U21 (Young Rider) and U25 team manager.

Dag Albert and Sue Shortt
Dag Albert and Sue Shortt. © HSI

Shortt has held the position of High-Performance Team Manager for Ireland’s Under 21 (Young Rider) Eventing team since 2019. A native of Kildare, Shortt has represented Ireland in Eventing at Under 18, Under 21 and Senior level including the Athens and Sydney Olympic Games and the World Equestrian Games in Jerez, Spain.

In 2021, Shortt was team manager of the Irish Young Rider (U21) Eventing team that won the silver medal at the FEI European Eventing Championships in Segersjö, Sweden.

Dag Albert has been reappointed as U18 (Junior) team manager.

Swedish-born Albert was first appointed to the position of High-Performance Team Manager for Ireland’s Under 18 (Junior) Eventing team in 2019.

Albert is one of Sweden’s most experienced eventing riders, represented his country at European and World Championships along with the Olympic Games at Atlanta in 1996 and Beijing in 2008. Albert managed the Irish Junior (U18) team to a sixth place finish at the 2021 European Championships in Segersjö, Sweden.

Jane Kinsella
Jane Kinsella. © HSI
Jane Kinsella has been appointed as HSI’s Pony (U16) team manager.

A native of Kildare and now living in Meath, Kinsella has a PhD in Parasitology, a QQI level 6 in training, delivery and evaluation. Kinsella is a HSI Level 2 coach, and represented Ireland in Eventing at European Championship level. She was awarded the HSI Development Coach of the year title in 2017.

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