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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

Saving on school books

Dara Bradley

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Secondary school students struggling with back-to-school costs, or looking for a bargain, can shave as much as 40% off the cost of school books – if they buy second hand.

And The Book Exchange on Lower Abbeygate Street in Galway City will even buy back good-quality school books, which it then re-sells.

“You typically can get 40% off the retail value of books if you shop with us. We generally say that if you spend €100 on new books, they’d be €60 here,” said Gary Healy of The Book Exchange.

It doesn’t stock a full-range of books, like Eason’s or other new school book retailers, but it caters well for Senior cycle students in secondary school in particular.

“Most of the fifth year and sixth year books are here, whether it’s maths such as Active Maths 4, Active Maths 3 or Irish books like Fuinneamh Nua. We have a lot of language books and a lot of the optional subjects. In general, almost all the firth and sixth year secondary school curriculum can be got second hand. With the Junior Cert, it’s only a couple of subjects that are available and it depends on the school. English books at Junior Cert can be gotten second-hand, and then sometimes the optional subjects like woodwork, tech graphics, music,” he said.

The Book Exchange will go through the booklist with the students or parents, although customers are advised to get in touch in advance.

“I’d advise anybody to stick a nose in to us with a list, or even give us a ring, or an email. We’re always happy to go down through the list with people, and walk them through it because one of the biggest things that can be a problem with the school book list, is when it specifies a book for a parent to get, it could say ‘new edition’ but in many cases ‘new edition’ just means it’s called the new edition, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s new. It could be 10 years after and it would still be called the ‘new edition’.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

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The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

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Connacht Tribune

Renters struck by rocketing increases

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Rents for private accommodation in Galway City have doubled in the past seven years and are now averaging €1,300 per month.

And it’s bad news for renters in the county too, with rents up by more than 82% since the bottom of the market in early 2012.

The latest report from property website Daft.ie shows that since the market trough, rents have increased by 97% in the city and are up 9.1% year on year.

They now stand at an average of €1,297 per month, while in the county, the average is €932, up 15.5% year on year.

Rental inflation was higher in Co Galway that anywhere else in the country over the past year; the next highest was in Waterford County at 15.4%.

That means that average monthly mortgage repayments on a three-bed house in the city would be around €360 less than rental payments, and more than €390 less for a similar property in the county.

Nationally, the average rent is €1,391, up 6.7% on last year.

A break-down of the figures shows that one-bed apartments are renting for an average of €964 per month in Galway City (up 13.6% year on year); a two-bed house for €1,086 (up 11.2%); a three-bed house for €1,258 (up 10%); a four-bed for €1,384 (up 10%) and a five-bed for €1,464 (up 6%).

To rent a single bedroom in the city centre is now averaging €440 per month (up 5.8% over the past year) and €410 in the suburbs (up 7%). A double bedroom is averaging €544 (up 9.2%) in the city centre and €484 (up 5.4%) in the suburbs.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app

The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City  and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

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CITY TRIBUNE

Changes to garda structure require ‘feet on the ground’

Francis Farragher

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STRUCTURAL changes in Garda management – which will see the current Western Region merged with the Northern area – need to be backed up with ‘feet on the ground’, according to the Chairperson of the city’s Joint Policing Committee.

Cllr Niall McNelis said he also had concerns over the impact that a reduction in Garda Superintendents and Chief Superintendents could have on the management of the force across the Galway region.

“I know that the stated intention of the Commissioner [Drew Harris] is to increase the frontline presence of Gardaí but this cannot be achieved without more feet on the ground.

“There also has to be concerns over an apparent lack of consultation on the changes with Garda Superintendents who really play a key role in managing the Garda resources at local level,” said Cllr McNelis.

He added that in the aftermath of the financial crash in Ireland, Garda resources – both in terms of personnel and equipment – had taken a huge hit, with this ‘lost ground’ still not being made up.

“The bottom line in all of this is: will we see more Gardaí on the beat; more Gardaí operating at local level and in touch with local people; and also a management structure that’s in touch with local communities?” Cllr McNelis asked.

One of the major changes announced by Commissioner Drew Harris is a reduction in the number of national Garda regions across the country from six to four, each one under the control of an Assistant Commissioner.  The Western Garda Region – that had consisted of Galway, Clare, Roscommon/Longford and Mayo – will now be merged into one region amalgamating with the North.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

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