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Galway native behind huge sports website

Dara Bradley

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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

Hero’s welcome following rescue of two women on Galway Bay

Stephen Corrigan

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Patrick Oliver and his son Morgan, who rescued Sara Feeney and Ellen Glynn off Inis Oirr island, on their arrival back at the Galway RNLI Lifeboat Station at Galway Docks. Photo: Joe O’Shaughnessy.

From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The miraculous rescue on Galway Bay yesterday of two young women from Knocknacarra brought 15 long hours of searching to a euphoric conclusion, as cousins Sara Feeney (23) and Ellen Glynn (17) were brought safely to shore.

A major search and rescue operation was launched after the pair went missing from Furbo Beach on Wednesday night, when they were swept away by a sudden wind while paddle boarding.

Claddagh fisherman and former Lifeboat shore crew member Patrick Oliver and his 18-year-old son Morgan joined the search early on Thursday morning and were the heroes of the hour after they discovered the two women on their boards, clinging to a lobster pot about two miles south-west of Inis Oírr, where despite their ordeal, they were described as “ok, but shaken”.

In the face of torrential rain and high winds overnight, both women had drifted almost 20 miles out to sea, but amazingly neither required serious medical attention.

Sara’s mother, Helen Feeney, raised the alarm shortly after 9pm on Wednesday evening when she noticed the pair missing as she walked their dog along the shore.

Sara, a daughter of Helen and Bernard Tonge, and Ellen, daughter Deirdre and well-known former captain of Galway United Johnny Glynn, were both said to be in good spirits at the hospital yesterday afternoon.

One relative told the Galway City Tribune that the family was “utterly humbled by the generosity of people” who had took part in the search and said, “unbelievable doesn’t even begin to describe it”.

“Thank you from all the family to everyone who helped, words will never express our gratitude.”
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read it in full, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

Photo: Patrick Oliver and his son Morgan, who rescued Sara Feeney and Ellen Glynn off Inis Oirr island, on their arrival back at the Galway RNLI Lifeboat Station at Galway Docks. Photo: Joe O’Shaughnessy.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Galway farm operators fall fowl of locals

Dara Bradley

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Neighbours of Mad Yolk Farm have asked Galway City Council to determine whether planning permission is required for a portable chicken coop earmarked for the land in Roscam.

This week, Mad Yolk Farm has indicated that it will be adding chickens to the site, which has already been the subject of planning enforcement by the local authority.

In a Facebook post, the operators said they are planning to rear organic chickens on site, with neighbours fearing as many as 450 birds in the chicken ‘caravan’.

“Our chicken caravan is now built and our beaked ladies will arrive in eight days. We’ll be moving the hens onto fresh grass each day and they’ll be free to forage for insects and take mud baths. They’ll be free to behave like a chicken should,” the business said on social media.

It has prompted a neighbour of the property to write the Council to formally ask for a declaration “whether the work/development described in the form is or is not development or is or is not exempted development under Section 5 of the Planning and Development Act”.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read it in full, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Cold water poured on Spanish Arch ‘bushing’ sprinkler plan

Dara Bradley

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Galway City Council has poured cold water on a suggestion that it should install water sprinklers to deter ‘bushing’ at city centre hotspots for outdoor drinking, such as Spanish Arch.

Councillor Eddie Hoare (FG) this week said the local authority should examine providing sprinklers, to deter bushing, after Spanish Arch and Middle Arch were packed with hundreds of revellers during the sunshine last weekend, and the areas were littered with alcohol bottles and cans.

Cllr Hoare said large crowds were prohibited from gathering outside due to Covid-19 social distancing guidelines, and if the partying continued “Galway will be the next county to be locked down”.

He said CCTV cameras should be installed at Spanish Arch and Middle Arch and added: “Galway City Council should consider installing sprinklers as a long-term solution.”

However, the City Council said it was not its intention to install sprinklers.

“It’s so hot at the moment, if you put out a sprinkler anywhere in Galway, people would just dance under it. We’re so unused to this muggy heat, that if you did that (installed sprinklers), on top of your 12-pack of Bacardi Breezers, or whatever it is young people drink these days, you’d have the biggest wet t-shirt competition this side of Ibiza – people would just dance under them. No, we have no plans for sprinklers,” remarked a City Council spokesperson.

He said the Council was unaware of a separate suggestion – announced by Mayor of Galway Mike Cubbard on social media – that certain city areas be exempted from the street drinking bylaws, to allow them to be monitored and controlled.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read it in full, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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