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GAA misinformation in the WhatsApp age

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On the surface it’s a fairly simple app. Boring even. A basic messaging service that doesn’t really compare with Twitter or Instagram or Facebook in terms of features.

But in many ways this simple little app has emerged as a one of our main sources of sports news and information. Whether it’s direct via a friend or indirect via the infamous forwarded message, WhatsApp pumps a never-ending stream of sports-related truths, half-truths and bare-faced lies onto our screens. The problem is: how do we tell our fact from our fiction?

Well, in this age of misinformation, it’s probably wise to start off by assuming that its false and then work backwards from there. By this stage we all know that forwarded messages (i.e. messages from another chat, now rendered anonymous, that have been passed on hundreds or thousands of times before reaching our phone) are notoriously untrustworthy.

Recently, rumours surrounding the Kerry football manager Peter Keane – specifically that he was facing a player coup – spread like wildfire on WhatsApp, forcing the county board as well as present and former players to clarify that there was no truth whatsoever in the speculation.

“The erroneous WhatsApp messages and subsequent social media furore that emerged in the weeks following our defeat (to Cork) had, in our opinion, the aim of damaging the reputation of players and management, and it has to be said that the prevalence of fake news has increased with the rise of social media,” Kerry GAA Chairman Tim Murphy said.

In the past, videos and images that supposedly showed intercounty players fighting or misbehaving in some other way have been debunked, but not before they have been dispatched to the four corners of the country. A photo popped up recently of a well-known player apparently holding an illegal substance. It turned out the picture had been photoshopped. In the original version, he was holding a pin in support of a charitable foundation.

That’s the dangerous side of WhatsApp, the side that can damage reputations for the sake of a “joke”.

Teams and individuals have also gotten into trouble when things they actually did were shared widely via the app. Who could forget the Ballyragget hurlers? In 2017, the Kilkenny club, who had won the intermediate championship a couple of days earlier, earned national headlines for all the wrong reasons when footage of some of their players cavorting with strippers leaked via Snapchat to WhatsApp. What a fuss that particular episode caused.

Local club Kilcummin also had to deal with a bit of a media storm last year when a video of one of their training sessions left the team group chat and found its way into the pockets of half the country. The clip showed a coach shouting profanities at his players as they wrestled on the ground, and it drew plenty of tut-tutting from the Gaelic football purists. It all blew over pretty quickly but it wasn’t much craic for the club at the time.

Leaks are common enough when it comes to classified team information (which, admittedly, is great from a journalistic standpoint). Maybe it’s to be expected: when you have 40 odd fellas in a group, what are the chances that at least one of them isn’t as wedded to the vow of secrecy as the rest? All it takes is for one person to share it in one external group. Once that happens, you’re done. Even professional outfits like the Irish national soccer team have had issues with this kind of thing in the past.

There are some funny stories to come out of WhatsApp, though. One of my favourites is the time a local player, disillusioned with not getting a run in a certain game, went home and posted a picture in the group chat. It showed his bin – with his football boots sticking out of it.

Getting your hands on someone else’s phone can also lead to some amusing WhatsApp episodes, as I found out first-hand (from the wrong side of the joke) a couple of years ago. I started training with the Legion again (one of my many failed comeback attempts) and one night, not long after I had returned, I was out with a few of my teammates. I was standing at the bar with my phone in my hand and next thing it was gone, snatched by a thief who disappeared into the crowd.

When it came back into my possession, I discovered that the assailant (a teammate) had sent a heartfelt WhatsApp message to our manager, Stephen Stack, saying how glad I was to be back and how I was looking forward to working with him for the rest of the year. Bear in mind that this was around 2am on a Saturday night. On a scale of one to Ballyragget it wasn’t that bad, but it was still fairly embarrassing.

I suppose like all of these new technologies, we’re still finding out how to use WhatsApp and how to take and process the information that we receive. Really the best advice is to take everything you read on WhatsApp with a pinch of salt. (Especially if you’re a manager and you get an emotional message from a player you barely know very late on a Saturday night.)

 

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Paudie Clifford returns and scores wondergoal as Kerry dismantle Monaghan

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Adam Moynihan reports from the Fitzgerald Stadium

National League Division 1

Kerry 3-16 Monaghan 0-14

HT: Kerry 0-10 Monaghan 0-6

A spectacular second-half goal by surprise inclusion Paudie Clifford helped Kerry to an impressive 11-point over Monaghan in Killarney this afternoon.

The All-Star forward wasn’t named on the initial panel of 27 but when his name was called out as No. 26 before the game, a loud cheer rang out around the O’Sullivan Stand. Kerry fans had to wait until the 46th minute to see the Fossa captain make his first appearance of the season but it didn’t take him long to make his mark.

After soloing all of 80 metres, the elder Clifford dispatched a perfect finish beyond the reach of Rory Beggan to send Kerry nine points clear with 51 minutes on the clock.

In truth the game was drifting away from Monaghan before Clifford’s cameo but his sensational contribution made absolutely certain.

With two points on the board and David Clifford and Seánie O’Shea waiting in the wings ahead of Mayo away in two weeks’ time, Kerry manager Jack O’Connor will be a happy man leaving Killarney this evening.

GIFTED

Monaghan stayed in touch with Kerry for the first quarter, thanks in the main to a string of needless fouls that gifted the away team some easy scores.

Conor McCarthy broke the deadlock with one such free in the 6th minute and Tony Brosnan got Kerry off the mark two minutes later with a placed ball of his own.

The reliable Dessie Ward and Kerry’s bustling full forward Darragh Roche exchanged scores before Micheál Bannigan tapped over a free to re-establish the Farney’s early lead.

Kerry then went on a mini-run, instigated by a neat team move that saw Tony Brosnan and Micheál Burns combine to tee up the excellent Tom O’Sullivan for a close-in score.

Good work by Barry Dan O’Sullivan from a hop ball led to another Brosnan free, and then a high, skyscraper of a point from the stand side into the scoreboard end by Donal Down O’Sullivan gave the hosts a two-point lead.

However, two more avoidable fouls handed Monaghan’s free-takers McCarthy and Bannigan a point apiece and midway through the first half, the scores were level at 0-5 each.

The Kingdom finally began to inject some pace into proceedings in the second quarter with Dara Moynihan and Micheál Burns especially active. The All-Ireland champions scored five of the next six points with Roche, Brosnan (free), Moynihan, Donal Down O’Sullivan and Burns all hitting the target.

A tasty individual effort by Monaghan’s best forward, Conor McCarthy, left the scores at 0-10 to 0-6 at the break.

UNDONE

Monaghan’s good work in the first half was rather quickly undone in the second as Kerry exerted their dominance in all sectors. By the time Darragh Roche evaded Beggan and goaled in the 39th minute, the home side led by eight (1-12 to 0-7) and the result already appeared to be beyond question.

In fairness to Vinney Corey’s charges, they rattled off three unanswered points over the next 10 minutes – and they would have scored a goal but for a great save by Shane Murphy – but then Clifford’s introduction set the tone for the remainder.

Adrian Spillane’s goalbound effort was tipped over in the 49th minute (Spillane was the last of Kerry’s six forwards to score) and then Clifford gathered the ball inside his own 65, sprinted straight for goal, and finished emphatically to make it 2-13 to 0-10.

Things got worse for Monaghan four minutes later when Ryan O’Toole saw red for a high tackle on Stefan Okunbor. In the next attack, Tom O’Sullivan sauntered forward to drive a trademark outside-of-the-boot shot between the uprights and Kerry led by double scores (2-14 to 0-10).

Stephen O’Hanlon was one of Monaghan’s shining lights and he scored two of his three points in the final quarter, but they counted for little when all was said and done.

TG4’s Man of the Match Donal Down O’Sullivan capped a fine full debut with a nice goal in stoppage time as Kerry picked up their first league win of the season.

KERRY: S Murphy; G O’Sullivan, J Foley, T O’Sullivan (0-2); P Warren, T Morley, P Murphy; J Barry, BD O’Sullivan; M Burns (0-1), D Moynihan (0-1), A Spillane (0-1); T Brosnan (0-4f), D Roche (1-2), D O’Sullivan (1-3).

Subs: P Clifford (1-1) for Moynihan; S Okunbor for BD O’Sullivan; K Spillane (0-1m) for Roche, G Horan for Warren; R Murphy for A Spillane.

MONAGHAN: R Beggan; T McPhillips, K Duffy (0-1), R Wylie; C Boyle, D Ward (0-1), K Loughran; K  Lavelle, C Lennon; S O’Hanlon (0-3), M Bannigan (0-3, 2f), J Wilson; C McCarthy (0-5, 4f), K Gallagher (0-1), S Carey.

Subs: D Treanor for Lennon; G Mohan for Wilson; T McPhillips for Lavelle; S Jones for Carey; S Slevin for Wylie.

Attendance: 10,232

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St Paul’s ladies’ contribution to club honoured

By Sean Moriarty St Paul’s Basketball club recognised the contribution of its ladies’ players during their National Basketball League home game on Saturday night. Since the start of the season, […]

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By Sean Moriarty

St Paul’s Basketball club recognised the contribution of its ladies’ players during their National Basketball League home game on Saturday night.

Since the start of the season, coach James Fleming has named his Most Valuable Player (MVP) after each home game.

The club presented each MVP award winner with a special trophy at halftime during the club’s tie with Dublin side Swords Thunder at Killarney Sports and Leisure Centre on Saturday.

Lynn Jones, who is one of the sport’s longest servants in Kerry, picked up her award from the Limerick Celtics game earlier in the season.

Rheanne O’Shea won the MPV during the Portlaoise Panthers match.

Yuleska Ramirez Tedja was the MPV against UL Sport Huskies last year.

Deise Dunlea was the most recent nomination for an MPV award and she also received her award on Saturday night.

The team also honoured their Irish International player Leah McMahon and presented Leah’s mother Anne with flowers as a thank-you for her support to the club.

“The dedication of these ladies is unbelievable, we have eight games in a row coming up, five at home and one each in Belfast, Cavan and Dublin and they are all working or studying,” manager Siobhan Bennett told the Killarney Advertiser.

“Coach James Fleming wanted to show his appreciation for this dedication.”

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