New and notable appointments at Sage, Irish Venture Capital Association, and Horseware Ireland

By Business & Finance
01 July 2021
Pictured: Avril McArdle, Marketing Director for Ireland, Sage

This week sees new and notable appointments at Sage, Irish Venture Capital Association, and Horseware Ireland

Avril McArdle, Marketing Director for Ireland,

Sage, the global market leader for technology and business software solutions, has announced the appointment of Avril McArdle as Marketing Director in Ireland. Previously the Senior Marketing Manager at Sage for Ireland and the UK, Avril moved to Glanbia in 2016 where she held the position of Head of Marketing – Direct Consumer Channels, for almost 4 years.

As Marketing Director for Sage, Avril will support the ambitious growth objectives of the Irish arm of the company, a key location in Sage’s global network. She will also assume responsibility for further strengthening the Sage brand as the market leader for business software solutions, driving growth in the cloud space through digital marketing, and supporting small businesses, accountants, and Sage partners through the company’s advocacy and partner programmes.

Welcoming the appointment, Barry Murphy, Managing Director at Sage Ireland, said; “I am delighted that Avril has rejoined the Sage Ireland team in the role of Marketing Director. Avril will be a key player in implementing Sage’s ambitious growth plans for the years ahead, a plan in which she and the Marketing team will play a central role in the delivery of its success.”

Avril holds a BA in Marketing from TU Dublin and an MA from Trinity College Dublin.

Nicola McClafferty, Chairperson,
Irish Venture Capital Association

Nicola McClafferty, Chairperson, Irish Venture Capital Association

Nicola McClafferty, partner, Draper Esprit, has been elected chairperson of the Irish Venture Capital Association. She is the second consecutive woman to be elected to the role, replacing Gillian Buckley, investment manager with the Western Development Commission (WDC), who has completed her term of office.

Nicola has been both an entrepreneur and investor. She worked in venture capital in London before cofounding and heading up online retailer, Covetique, later sold to ASOS plc.

She joined Draper Esprit in 2017 and in April 2020 was appointed partner. As well as focusing on consumer and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) investment across Europe, she heads up the Draper Esprit office in Dublin. Nicola sits on the boards of portfolio companies including Manna, Lyst, Pollen, Roomex and Sweepr.

Commenting on her election to chair the IVCA she said, “While Ireland’s focus in the past has been on creating the environment to attract FDI investment, global pressures make it increasingly important that we look to policies that will boost local entrepreneurship and accelerate the development of the indigenous Irish tech sector.”

From Dublin, Nicola McClafferty is a graduate of UCD.

The Irish Venture Capital Association ( is the representative organisation for venture capital and private equity firms in Ireland.

DCU research finds that between 2003 and 2018 in excess of 2,500 Irish SMEs have raised venture capital and private equity of €5bn.

Shane Meharg & Louis O’Neill, CCO and CFO, respectively,
Horseware Ireland

Horseware Ireland, the global and market leading producer of branded equestrian and pet products including rugs, clothing, therapies and accessories, has made two key senior management appointments from the branded sports apparel and financial services sectors.

Former EMEA Commercial Director of Under Armour, Shane Meharg, has joined Horseware as Chief Commercial Officer; while Louis O’Neill, most recently head of EY’s M&A team in Ireland, has joined Horseware as Chief Financial Officer.  The appointments, announced by Horseware Ireland CEO Mark Saunders, will be instrumental in driving international growth, also following from a recent majority investment in the firm by London based private equity firm Lonsdale Capital Partners, which has strong Irish links.

Horseware Ireland employs over 500 people globally, with annual revenues in excess of €40m and facilities that are wholly and directly owned and managed by the company in Ireland, the USA, China and Cambodia. The group is currently in a programme to accelerate growth and further expand its market presence worldwide. 

Mark Saunders, CEO of Horseware Ireland said, “I welcome Shane Meharg and Louis O’Neill to our senior management team. Both are highly skilled and experienced executives in areas of essential strategic importance to Horseware Ireland where they will contribute to our continuing growth and our further development in key markets including Europe, North America and Asia.

“Shane brings immense commercial acumen on a multi-market basis and Louis will drive our investment strategies and governance as we target further global expansion. I’m delighted to welcome each of them to Horseware Ireland. Both will contribute strongly to our ongoing progress where everything we do is centred on making life better for horse and rider, working closely with our industry and trade partners and customers throughout the world.”

Shane Meharg is a specialist in the EMEA sporting market across all elements of sales, distribution, competition, market entry and growth opportunity. He has most recently worked in consultancy across the sector, prior to which he was EMEA Commercial Director of Under Armour for over six years to 2019 and held several senior marketing and sales roles with Nike Europe across the Action Sports, Running and Footwear categories.  He was also previously Country Manager of Nike Ireland. He holds a BA Degree from the University of Ulster.

Louis O’Neill has joined Horseware Ireland from EY where he has been head of the M&A team in Ireland since 2018.  Prior to this he held the role of CFO to a group of growing entrepreneurial businesses. He began his career at BDO Ireland in 1992 ultimately becoming a Partner, leading the corporate finance practice and serving on the firm’s senior leadership team. He is a chartered accountant with a Masters of Accounting and BComm degrees from UCD and NUI Galway. In his career to date he has supported entrepreneurial companies in scaling their businesses, raising capital and realising value, across hundreds of transactions in multiple industry sectors.