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Galway native behind huge sports website

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It started as an amateur internet sports blog written to pass time in college, and had fewer viewers than your average junior C club hurling match played in November.

But it has swelled into a successful, professional sports website, which receives thousands of hits a day, and has attracted advertising from the ‘big boys’ such as betting giant Paddy Power.

The London-based website, www.thesportreview.com, was developed by Galway man Kieran Beckles and his business partner, West Londoner, Martin Caparrotta.

From humble beginnings back in 2009, the duo wrote sports reports and comment pieces on a blog, which at best attracted a few hundred ‘hits’.

The lads broke the psychologically important 1,000-hits with their first ‘big’ story – the signing of Andrei Arshavin for Arsenal – and it has grown exponentially since.

That gave them an indication of the potential a sports site had. And when they started to dedicate their time full-time to the project, in 2012, the popularity of it exploded.

“We were getting 30,000 or 40,000 unique users a month. It was around the time of Wimbledon and the London Olympics. Again with the World Cup this year we’ve continued to grow and we currently have between 800,000 and one million unique users a month,” says Kieran, who was born in London but lived in Claddagh for years, the home of his mother.

Kieran (25), who won national and international titles while rowing with St Joseph’s ‘The Bish’, is an NUI Galway Legal Science and Italian graduate.

It was while on an Erasmus year studying in Bologna where Kieran and Martin met. They played five-a-side soccer together, watched the Premier League together and had a general interest in sport.

They combined their love of sport, an interest in journalism, with Martin’s knowledge of website design.

It started as a blog, “just to pass the time in college really,” says Kieran. “We were only doing four or five articles a day. But we gradually started growing it to where we are now,” he says.

The website business depends heavily on traffic – unless a certain amount of ‘eyes’ are directed to the site, and unless the ‘hits’ don’t keep coming, advertisers won’t part with their money.

Kieran admits that aspect of it is “pretty depressing at times” if the site isn’t reaching its daily targets for hits. But, they know their audience, and “we commit so many hours to it that we know how to get the users and to generate the traffic.”

Tapping into a global audience, hungry for sports news and constant updates on sports, through search engine Google is the fastest way to divert traffic; while the website has also had articles linked to popular websites such as the BBC, which also attracts new users and traffic.

At the moment, the website has a team of freelance and agency writers who contribute to the site, including students.

But as the website expands, Kieran says they are anxious to hire a team of full-time paid-for writers.

“The plan is to continue to grow the site. We’re on course to have our best ever month this August. We always wanted to work for ourselves but our social lives have taken a bit of a back seat. In the longer term the plan is to grow a team of writers.

“We’ve found it is the comment pieces and the player ratings, rather than the match reports, that do well. We want to attract more advertisers. We built it up slowly over the years and we just want to continue to let it grow,” adds Kieran.

CITY TRIBUNE

Council rows back on ‘reduced delays’ projections for Kirwan junction

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Motorists have described it as ‘a disaster’ and a former mayor has said the project gave very poor value for money, but Galway City Council have this week asked the public to be patient with the revamped Kirwan junction, close to the Menlo Park Hotel.

Since the four-arm signalled junction opened early last week, motorists have complained of traffic queues stretching back to the Quincentenary Bridge and Corrib Park.

And now the Council has rowed back on its consultants’ claims that the junction would increase capacity by 15% and reduce waiting times by 25%.

Former mayor and local taxi driver, Cllr Frank Fahy, told the Galway City Tribune that given the negative impact of the junction on traffic, the €5 million spent on the project represented ‘very poor value’ as regards taxpayers’ money.

“I will admit that the junction is now safer for pedestrians in that they can hit a button to give them a safe crossing, but since it opened there have some very serious traffic tailbacks,” said Cllr Fahy.

However, City Council Acting Director of Services for Transport, Uinsinn Finn, told the Galway City Tribune that the new junction needed time to ‘bed in’ with a familiarisation process.

“The main objectives of this project were to make far safer for pedestrians and cyclists to negotiate, as well as making it safer for motorists too, without impacting [negatively] on the traffic flow,” said Mr Finn.

He added that since it opened – and over the coming few weeks – data on all aspects of how the junction was functioning would be compiled which could involve changes to light sequencing, lanes and peak traffic flows.

One motorist who contacted this newspaper said that the daily “nightmare” journey from the Barna Road to the Headford Road during the morning peak traffic time had added up to 40 minutes to his journey time.

“The two lanes are regularly gridlocked from the junction, back the N6, over the Quincentenary Bridge and back to Corrib Park.

“In the mornings, it’s now easier to go down Taylor’s Hill and into town, past Eyre Square and up Bohermore to get down to the Headford Road.

Councillors were told by consultants in 2017 and again in 2018 – when they voted to proceed with the changeover to a junction – that average delays would be reduced by 25% and junction capacity would increase by 15%.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Man hospitalised following Eyre Square assault

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Gardaí have appealed to the public for information into an assault in Eyre Square last weekend which led to a young man being hospitalised.

The victim of the assault – a man in his early 20s from the city area – suffered a cut to his knee and may have had a substance sprayed towards his eyes.

Following the incident – that occurred close to the Eyre Square taxi rank shortly after midnight on Saturday night last – the victim was taken by ambulance to University Hospital Galway.

It is understood that the victim was released later that morning and has made a full recovery. This week, Gardaí are poring over CCTV footage in an effort to try and identify the perpetrators of the assault.

The assailants are understood to have fled on foot after the incident towards St Patrick’s Avenue on the east side of Eyre Square.

A Garda spokesperson has appealed for anyone who was in the vicinity of the taxi rank on Eyre Square between 12 midnight and 12.30am on the Sunday morning (Saturday night) of July 25 last, and who may have witnessed the incident to contact them.

(Photo: the assailants fled on foot towards St Patrick’s Avenue off Eyre Square)
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Council turns down controversial phone mast plan

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune –  Galway City Council has refused an application by Eircom to erect a 12-metre telecoms mast in a housing estate in Knocknacarra.

The local authority turned down the company’s application for planning permission to install the structure in the heart of Drom Óir over concerns that it would create a visual obstruction in a residential area – and would have a detrimental impact on property prices.

Eircom had also sought retention to keep a concrete foundation for the mast in situ after it was forced to abandon works earlier this year, amid protests from residents in Drom Óir and Leitir Burca. This was also rejected.

City planners issued the company with a warning letter in April to cease works after contractors on site drew the ire of nearby residents, who accused Eircom of seeking to install the mast ‘by stealth’.

A total of 26 letters of objection were submitted to the Council from residents of the two estate.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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