Boston Blues

Fáilte,
The title isn’t just about how I miss my time in Boston. It’s more than that. It tells the short story of the whole reason I was there in the first place. To play Gaelic football for the Shannon Blues of Boston.

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Shannon Blues crest

It was mid June and I had been toying with the prospect of going for a while. It was a year of mixed emotions for me with a lot of ups and downs. Part of me thought getting away for the summer would help but for the most part I was scared that deep down I’m a real home bird and that I’d never be able to do It. The idea of leaving home properly for the first time was daunting. Making the journey across the big pond to the US. Alone. I at times asked myself if I was going crazy. Luckily I had Gaelic football which for many young Irish men is their ticket over to Boston or wider afield, and costs us little to nothing at all. Still, money was not the limiting factor rather it was whether or not I had the courage to go by myself.

On the 20th of June a few hours into the flight I diagnosed myself insane. Another three hours later I had arrived in Logan airport in Boston. Picked up by a man I didn’t know much about and brought to a house full of other young Irish lads at the same chapter in life as myself. A couple of days passed by and I was almost regretting the decision. By the third day, somehow and inexplicably over night the lads I had been staying with and the team that I had joined became my new family. A band of brothers is what we had become and our manager aka “Biscuits” had become a father to us all while we were there. We went about our day enjoying the sun and come night-time there was always a buzz around the city. When it came time to play football we did just that. The quality of football surprised a lot of us first timers that had made the journey over the Atlantic. Even more so the quality of home based players or actual Americans who adopted the sport was truly amazing to see. Although he wasn’t on my team, rubbing shoulders with the likes of Diarmuid Connolly the Dublin five time All Ireland winner; was a bit surreal. I’m sure for those who have been in in America their whole lives it was even more meaningful to have a living legend of the game like him come over and showcase his skills in their own backyard. At the end of the day we were all there to do the same thing. Enjoy our summers and do what we cherished, which was play ball.

I would like to speak for all the lads not just on my team but for all of the Irish lads who traveled to Boston to play football in the summer of 2018. We appreciate and thank everyone who was able to make it happen. We each joined a new family and hopefully we will see them again in the near future.

Some of the Shannon Blues and I

This being my first blog post is really just a quick insight into what I wanted to share with whoever was interested in reading. There is a lot more to tell and an interesting array of topics I could get into in the future. Let me know what you might like to hear about my travels through any of my contact details below. Thanks for reading folks.

Go raibh maith agat.

Connell Lemon is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. He can be found at: Instagram – connell_lemon97 ; Facebook – Connell  Lemon.

Conor Mc Gregor- PRoper Twelve

Conor McGregor – the man, the myth, the legend.  The loud mouth, Crumlin born showman has became famous for his illusive striking, crazy fight predictions and his ability to roast his opponents in press conferences to the point of freezing up when faced with him in the cage. Love him or hate him- his PR campaign works.

Recently McGregor has been making the headlines for all the wrong reasons, for example hurling a dolly at an opponent’s bus window, injuring numerous fighters, invading the cage at another fight promotion and consequently making the general public fear he was losing his mind. It could be argued that this thoughtless and irrational behaviour may have been detrimental to his reputation and public image however perhaps there is a method to his madness, after all does bad publicity really exist? I think that it is high time for the public to appreciate Conor McGregor for the shrewd, calculating businessman and PR genius that he is. Ultimately he is the one with the staggering net worth of $110 million USD meanwhile I struggle to gather up the price of his pay per view fights.

Was this a calculated stunt to promote the biggest UFC fight of all time ???? You decide.

McGregor has utilised his popularity with the millennial generation and used it to his advantage in undertaking a recent business venture whereby he has attempted to get his foot in the door of the Whiskey business. He was a huge talking point in the media recently and he has used this momentum to promote his new product  “Proper Twelve” to the next level in his UFC press conference.  With the fans behind him coming into his fight with Khabib Nurmagomedov,  McGregor took every opportunity to have a bottle of his infamous Proper Twelve glued to his hand in order to make it a household name around the globe.  He then proceeded to taunt Jameson whiskey as he claimed it was “done” and “we only drink Proper Twelve, proper Irish whiskey from a proper Irish man.” This was a huge claim as Jameson is so well established in Ireland yet he had his fans cheering “F*** the Jameson brothers” at the open workouts.  Quite a bold move but he isn’t notorious for being respectable in his approach to marketing.

Continue reading “Conor Mc Gregor- PRoper Twelve”

Public Relations and the GAA – The Relationship

Public Relations and the GAA – The Relationship

Although I may not be a fitness fanatic nor play any sports (I once did, trust me), I am a huge follower of the GAA, both in my local club and county. In most recent years it has come to my attention the tremendous effects and benefits Public Relations has had on GAA and it is of course something I feel is worth mentioning. For those who do not know, GAA is an Irish Sporting Association consisting of Gaelic Football, Hurling and Handball, all at amateur level. That’s right, it is not a professional paid sport. Why you ask? Because of the strong Irish heritage that dates back hundreds of years and simply doing it for the love of it.

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From social media to traditional advertising to brand marketing, it has undoubtedly opened up so many doors for both young talented players and organisations. With many sporting social media sites such as Joe.ie, Ulster GAA and Humans of the GAA, not only do they acknowledge young affluent GAA players, but it also creates brand awareness and revenue for that particular site as they put up analysis of games as well as stats and top scorers – it is of course the best of both worlds. Popular, renowned players are seen as god-like figures in this part of the world and someone most sporting nuts aspire to be, which is why many businesses seize the opportunity to liaise with such players to help promote their merchandises whether it may on Facebook, Instagram or good old fashioned advertising. This can be anything from Puma football boots to Murphy’s gloves. We all want the next best thing our sporting heroes have so it is certainly a great way of promoting the company as well as boosting sales. Moreover, seeing TV adverts such as Lidl sponsoring ladies football to Electric Ireland constructing their TV advert on the GAA Minor Championships, it highlights that the our beloved GAA is in the heart of every home in Ireland and Northern Ireland.

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With GAA becoming not only huge in Ireland itself, it has broken into the US as well as many other prosperous countries including Australia and Dubai which is of course pumping not only extortionate money into the organisation but letting other cultures become aware of the sport! Not to mention, with many people getting sponsorships from across the water in places such as Canada, it goes without saying, that with GAA enthusiasm on the rise, it sure does open up a whole new window of opportunities for eager young people with Public Relations playing a huge part in this expansion.

Irish people take pride in their own people especially when it comes to playing the sport and it is fair to say we do all we can to ensure their talents and commitments do not go unnoticed! With many extravagant and formal awards nights including the Teamtalk Awards and the Irish News All Star Awards, Public Relations is at the centre of every function, big or small. It is enough to inflate anyone’s ego but is of course a fundamental way of highlighting the important place GAA holds in our community and that hard work really does play off. With special guests including sporting legend AP McCoy at this year’s Irish News All Star Awards, it is enough to get any typical PR agent jumping out of their boots!

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Public Relations and its close knit relationship with the GAA has had many positive successes in the past when it comes to raising money for campaigns or charities making it a go-to when looking for a strategy that is simple yet effective! One that stands out from the rest in my opinion is the most recent charity match hosted in Galway in September. The Galway team of 2017 (winners of the Hurling All-Ireland Championship) competed against the Galway team of 1988. The charity match was put together in an attempt to raise funds for the family of the recently deceased Tony Keady, who was named hurler of the year as Galway claimed the 1988 All Ireland Title. Not only is GAA a fun loving amateur sport, it is about helping a fellow comrade when you can and exploiting your skills to do so. This of course gained the attention from the media with many news reporters and journalists making their way to the scene as well as many press releases and social media sites giving it some attention!

What I love most about the GAA is that the amateur sport has been imbedded in us since toddlers and helps bring each and every community closer together. It is not played for money or fame, but for the love of it. It is your local plumber, primary school teacher, your uncle or dad, and that’s what makes it all the more special!

Shannon Grogan is a final year BSc in Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found on LinkedIn on https://www.linkedin.com/in/shannon-grogan-09712510b/ 

FOOTBALL VS PUBLIC RELATIONS Volume 1: Part II

FOOTBALL VS PUBLIC RELATIONS

Volume 1: Part II

 

Public Relations within Soccer

Hi everyone, welcome back. If you read my last blog post you would know that I looked at the similarities between football and public relations. If you haven’t saw it yet, feel free to go check it out. Today I’m sticking with the football theme but I want to look and see what PR exists in football today.

 

Now, if we look at footballers we can’t deny that they have been blessed with remarkable talent. Fortunately for them they are able to make a living (a really good living) from displaying this talent. But where would they be without their fans? If they didn’t have the support of millions behind them then the footballing industry as we know it would not be as popular as it is today and it certainly wouldn’t be making as much money as it does. This is why I feel that it is important for the sport to give back to us. The fans. What is football without its supporters?

 

Barclays did exactly that. If you aren’t a big supporter of football then all you need to know is Barclays sponsors the Premier League, and the Premier League is the top division in England and one of the most popular leagues in the world. The new footballing seasons kick off in the middle of August and Barclay’s thought this would be the perfect opportunity to thank the fans which is why they launched this campaign on the 16th of August. Just days before the new season started. They released a 90 second video titled “Thank you” which was aimed at the fans. The video consisted of looking at different fans of different ages who supported a variety of teams in the league. It followed their journey to the match and during the match and finished it off with “To follow is to love. To the millions of fans who make the Barclay’s Premier League what it is, we say thank you.” This is the perfect message. The way the say it is the fans who make the league what it is and not the players shows their appreciation and is pretty much saying without us, they wouldn’t be able to have their dream job. This video was distributed worldwide and it hit 200 different countries reaching hundreds of millions of people. With this video they are also promoting competitions to win tickets and they have paired with the hashtag “#YouAreFootball”.

 

I feel like the reasoning behind this has been based behind some negative issues especially with FIFA. At the time they had been under the spotlight in terms of corruption and although they now have sacked their president who was responsible, I still feel like that reputation has been damaged and not mended completely. This campaign, in my opinion, was Barclay’s way of building trust and showing that they are not the same as FIFA. I feel that maybe FIFA should take a page out of Barclays book and try something to rebuild their relationship with the fans.

 

However, this is where I’m going to leave off today. Stay tuned for future posts and I hope you have a very nice day.

 

Joseph McAuley is a final year BSc in Communication, Advertising and Marketing student at Ulster University. He can be found on Twitter: @JosephMcAuley96 / Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/joseph.mcauley.3 

Football Fanatic

Not many things will get me up early on a cold wet and windy Sunday morning in January but football is the one thing that will.

I have been playing Gaelic football since I can remember for my local club St Marys Burren.

My family has always been involved with our local club from playing to supporting. From a young age I have always been interested in sport from swimming to Irish dancing to netball to gymnastics but football has been the one sport that I have always had a passion for and enjoyed playing.

I would encourage anyone to join a football team or to take up a sport or even re-join one as the benefits are life long and worth every session training in the cold and wet!!

 Four key life benefits that playing sport brings:

  • Working as a teamCF20It goes without saying that working as part of a team is key when playing football and most team sports for that matter. This is a quality that is rhymed off at many job interviews but playing football instils the skills working and communicating within a team and how your strengths can be part of something greater and work with others to achieve a common goal.

 

  • Exercise mental and physical health

An obvious one but training 2- 3 nights a week with a match at the weekend does bring your physical fitness levels up and there is no better feeling than feeling fit – all the shuttle run sprints are worth it come championship in the summer.

An aspect that is often over looked is mental health. Sport plays an incredible role on the state of your mental health. The positive effects playing sport has is often forgotten or down played, anytime I am feeling overwhelmed or stressed with work or university as soon as I put on my football boots I become focused and determined to do well in training it helps take my mind off whatever is making my feel stressed or anxious and helps me realise that there are other things going on in life and not to get bogged down on the negative aspects.

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  • Social Aspect:

One of the best things about playing football and sport in general is the friendships you make along the way. I have been playing football with some of these girls since primary school!

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The craic that you manage to have even when you doing hill sprints up the side of the Mourne Mountains just shows how strong the bond with your team mates can be. It is something that shouldn’t be undervalued the friendships you make with people in your local club and parish, some of the best nights out our nights with my team mates whether it be our annual dinner dance or club fundraising nights.

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  • Being part of something bigger

The GAA is a fantastic organisation to be part of. With a GAA club set up in most countries around the world it is a large organisation that still has the feel of a grassroots organisation with the local clubs the heart and soul of the GAA. My club St Marys Burren motto is “Ar Aghaidh le Cheile” which means forward together. This motto is something that is strongly practised within the club and whilst playing as part of our team. Playing support has instilled a sense of commitment and belonging to something bigger.

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My advice (although slightly bias)  for anyone reading this is to consider taking up a sport, it is never too late or for those who have fallen away to consider re-joining you cannot put into words the advantages that sport brings to your life so why not get stuck in!!

Caoimhe Fitzpatrick is a Final Year BSc in Communication, Advertising and Marketing student at University of Ulster. She can be found on Twitter: @caoimhef_95 / LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/caoimhe-fitzpatrick-0b8682110/