A professional-looking studio set-up, with presenter Joe Perrott going live to reporter Michael Dilworth at the scene – initially, it seems as if the launch of Aghabullogue’s new jerseys, sponsored by DCE IT Solutions, is a slick production.
Unfortunately, the jerseys prove to be too small and, when the camera goes back to Perrott, he’s preening himself and expressing the cynical view that too many Easter eggs and ‘Covid bellies’ are the real reason behind the players’ inability to don the new threads.
It’s all part of the act, of course, but the brevity of the two-minute video belies the hard work that has gone into making the club’s social-media output so strong over the past year or so.
One of the most-supported fundraisers in the country in 2020 was the ‘Barrathon’, pushed by Aghabullogue GAA Club and Newcestown Camogie Clubs to aid Barra Buckley, son of club legend Niall and Newcestown’s Mairéad Crowley. Almost €100,000 was raised in aid children’s cancer charity Aoibheann's Pink Tie. While Barra sadly passed away in December, the impetus he gave to Aghabullogue as a club has been harnessed in a positive fashion.
“The first big push we gave was the Barrathon, last year,” Dilworth says.
“We realised the way that got into people’s pockets and their phones and their houses and the feedback that we got, the reaction from the public, was phenomenal.
“When the fundraiser finished up, the season was starting and so we tried to keep it going. We’re having a bit of craic, we’re bringing the club to the people because, last year, the people couldn’t come to the club.”
Dilworth has been club PRO for two years and, while there are still the traditional tasks of submitting notes to local media and the parish newsletter, the bulk of the work is done online.
“Everybody is busy now,” he says, “they can’t necessarily call down to the pitch to watch a league game on a Thursday night.
“The way to keep up to date then is through social media – you might get score updates or a few clips of the match and you know what’s going on. Even if you couldn’t get down there, you still feel involved.”
During last year’s county championships, the club’s pre-match team graphics really caught the eye.
“Joe has to take the credit on that,” Dilworth says.
“We sat down last year and Joe said, ‘I can do this,’ and it turned about ten times better than he even expected it to!
“Previously, they only heard the names or they knew it was such a fella’s son or whatever else.”
Perrott is delighted that the initiative has proven so popular.
“We were wondering if the players would buy into it,” he says.
“When we got the headshots taken, they were wondering what it was all about but, now, people around the parish know who they are – especially in hurling, guys mightn’t have been recognised because they had their helmets on when they played.
“Another element is the sponsorship, which obviously helps to keep the club running. We came up with a creative way of selling player sponsorship – we knew we’d have six matches across football and hurling, so we offered businesses the chance to have their logo next to the player at €20 a match.
“Usually, there’s much bigger sponsorship – even a sign at the pitch is a couple of hundred euro – which might be too much for a small business, so this was great for them. The sponsors involved have come back and told us that they got a great reaction from being involved, so it worked very well in that sense.
“We got those businesses to do a 15-second video for half-time ads and people enjoyed those as well,” he says.
“We’ll always try to have a bit of fun with it because engagement is key.”
And Perrott is modest about his graphic design proficiency.
“The university of YouTube taught me an awful lot!” he laughs.
“I’ve a technical background in graphics and Michael would have a good eye for design, but it’s more of a hobby for us.”
The club has around 800 Instagram followers now and the aim for 2021 is to keep improving in all aspects of social media, especially with a county Intermediate A hurling final against Éire Óg to look forward to.
“We’ll have to up our game,” Dilworth says.
“Everyone was impressed with the team lineups last year, so we’ll try to go one step further this year.
“We have a few new signs around the pitch, so we’ll have a ‘Pitch Sign of the Week’.
“This is a release, a bit of craic. We bounce stuff around – the video might take an hour to do between shooting it and putting it up online, but we could be a week talking about it, saying, ‘We should try that,’ and then waking up the following morning and saying, ‘Maybe we shouldn’t try that’!
“As well as that, sponsors are spending a lot of money on our club and you want to give them value for that.”