It’s no secret ingredient. Most GAA teams have a group conversation going, but then they do so for a reason. This past week, TJ Reid extolled its virtues after Henry Shefflin had mentioned he had to learn how to use the smartphone app, which allows people to message each other in a closed group environment.
“There was a lot of new guys on the panel and a lot of lads didn’t know him so David Herity got the Whatsapp going,” Reid said. “It was a bit of craic and Brian [Cody] always talks about spirit. When you have a group just having the craic on WhatsApp it’s a great place to be as well because everyone is enjoying each other’s company and nobody’s saying, ‘ah, who’s this lad?’ It was a way of getting to know each other.”
Kerry’s players have found it just as useful.
“It’s just the players,” says Darran O’Sullivan. “There’s a lot of craic in it but there’s serious talk as well. If something needs to be discussed among the panel then that’s where it can be brought up. It’s still going strong now.
“It’s easier for the younger players to pipe up in it than anything else. They’d find it easier to talk up in it than in person. You know it yourself, you can hop a ball with a fella much easier in a text. It’s good that way.”
During the summer, Wexford hurling manager Liam Dunne succeeded in being added to his players’ group only to be rumbled. Up until then, he unearthed a mine of information about his men.
The beauty of the app is it allows players to communicate among themselves in a safe environment. In previous years, Dublin’s hurlers would have set up a private Facebook group but WhatsApp is more convenient.
The GPA communicate to their members via text message and email but under the body’s communications subgroup, headed by Galway hurler David Collins, they are looking at ways of advancing their methods, with WhatsApp firmly in their plans. “The best method we find is through text with a link because people use their phones so much,” says GPA head of communications Sean Potts.
“David Collins has been looking at WhatsApp to see if it’s a tool we can use. The problem is it’s limited to 50 people per group but we’re talking about getting lists of our squad reps together and creating groups so that we can send out important messages to the relevant parties and they may then relay them to their team-mates.
“You constantly have to update and upgrade your methods of communication to suit 19-year-olds and texts and emails do have their limitations.
“While text is most efficient there is a cost and younger players don’t want that.”