Tuesday 20 August 2019

GAA fans to go all in on Shemozzle for updates

'The result is Shemozzle, an easy-to-use free app that offers a one-stop shop for GAA match results and updates' (stock photo)
'The result is Shemozzle, an easy-to-use free app that offers a one-stop shop for GAA match results and updates' (stock photo)

Dermot Crowe

A couple of years ago Vinny O'Connell came up with the idea of creating a mobile phone app to enable GAA followers to access live match updates from one central station.

Many followers obtain match information by trawling through Twitter but that is usually from multiple sources and can be time-consuming. O'Connell's concept involved creating a single reliable platform where you could find information on any match you chose.

The result is Shemozzle, an easy-to-use free app that offers a one-stop shop for GAA match results and updates. The creator has a strong GAA background. A county senior hurling medal winner with Garryspillane in 2005, he is from Galbally in south east Limerick, and played football for the county at minor and under 21 level. O'Connell is a close friend of the current Limerick senior hurling manager, John Kiely, and a brother-in-law of the Cuala All-Ireland club-winning hurler John Sheanon.

He describes Shemozzle as a "simplified and centralised" means of accessing the latest scores and match updates from your club or county, or any match that might have your interest. It is available to download on the App Store and Google Play Store. Once registered, you can apply to become a Shemozzle 'reporter' and if approved you will be able to provide information from games which others can tap into. O'Connell says around 1,000 people have signed up to the app already and he hopes to broaden the subscriber base once the app gets more widely known.

"Shemozzle is an app that I thought of myself a couple of years back when I used to play GAA," he explains. "After a match I would like to know the scores/results of matches that would affect my team or any other team of interest so the only real live source was through Twitter but it was very cumbersome trying to find the result so I thought: what if there was a GAA app that has the potential to give all these scores/fixtures/results in one app in which you can select your own teams? Users can go into the app and see the live updates very easily and very quickly. The app is very user-friendly."

Shemozzle has the potential to serve a very useful function at local level where there is a demand for that kind of knowledge. Modern information technology is increasingly relaying the message with the proliferation of online platforms. It is a far cry from the GAA of old. This year marks the 60th anniversary of a famous Waterford win over Tipperary in the Munster senior hurling championship at the Cork Athletic Grounds. Tipp were reigning Munster and All-Ireland champions and warm favourites but at half-time, having faced a huge gale which team captain Tony Wall elected to play into, they trailed 0-0 to 8-2.

When handed a slip of paper with the half-time score on it, Michael O'Hehir, who was commentating on another match, is said to have expressed disbelief - regarding it as either a misprint or a hoax. That time of quaint uncertainty is light years removed from today's tsunami of Twitter feeds and myriad online forums.

In Dublin GAA, the journalist Ronan MacLochlainn, who reports for the Herald, has become a trusted supplier of club match results for followers. It happened, he says, "by osmosis". MacLochlainn began putting up the scorelines on his Twitter feed that he picked up from referees for work purposes and gradually built up a large following. He does not get paid for the service, nor is he assigned this duty by the Dublin County Board. But for many supporters with an interest in the activities of the Dublin club scene in hurling and football, he has become a valued and trusted go-to guy for the latest results.

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"I have kind of made a bit of a deal with the Devil in posting them," he says caustically, "and as a result people expect them now, so there will be an announcement some time soon saying it's not going to happen anymore. I have been doing it for about three years. It has created the dependency. We need to choose some methadone now to wean them off it!"

Many clubs have their own people at games offering up scores and updates though these are not always dependable. "Unless they are going up to the referee at the final whistle and asking for confirmation, you can't be sure they are right," MacLochlainn says. He has built up a few thousand Twitter followers on the back of his regular results postings. "Nobody is interested in what I have to say on Twitter," he says. "There is nobody who follows me who doesn't come from a club in Dublin."

Even at that, MacLochlainn can't be expected to supply all the results that followers might be seeking, notably those in the lower reaches of the divisions and grades. This is where Shemozzle hopes to fill the gap. The county board in Dublin has a website, Hill 16, which posts results usually in the first few hours following games but often there are delays because it depends on clubs to submit results via text, with a prompt text issued to a team representative after each fixture. Clubs often fail or forget to carry out this duty and then scores are left frustratingly blank and league or championship tables incomplete.

In those cases followers might resort to a discussion board thread or try their luck on Twitter on the accounts of the clubs involved. That exercise is hit and miss. Shemozzle - ironically a term much favoured by Michael O'Hehir - is offering a way out of that logjam.

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