'Each game takes up to 20 hours to complete all the coding and then more time to analyse it in detail'

Working behind the scenes with Cork camogie is a dream job for Niall Collins
'Each game takes up to 20 hours to complete all the coding and then more time to analyse it in detail'

Paudie Murray and Niall Collins with the Cork camogie team after beating Kilkenny. Picture: INPHO/James Crombie

BEHIND every manager is a strong backroom team. While we usually only see the front man, which is the case with Cork camogie manager Paudie Murray, he has trusty lieutenants such as statistician Niall Collins.

Recording the stats in games isn’t just a box-ticking part of the job — it is a key part in improving decision-making.

Dunmanway native Collins, who is also a cousin of Murray, has played a huge role in recent seasons.

A software architect, he first became involved in 2014 and, since then, the Rebels have secured four senior All-Ireland titles and one intermediate title.

“‘Paudie contacted me when he was putting together his management team for that year and asked if I’d like to get involved.

“My background is in computer software development and that, coupled with my interest in a wide range sports, led me to get involved in the role.

“Before that, Paudie was in charge of the Doheny’s football team, where I would have worked closely with him on a lower scale for about a year.”

Collins is someone who has a love for Gaelic games and he was delighted with the opportunity to get involved.

“My father has always had a strong influence on me from a GAA perspective and I’ve grown up loving the sport, so to get the opportunity to work with Cork camogie was something I could not turn down.

“I was delighted to accept Paudie’s invitation to join his backroom team,” he says.

“An opportunity to work with elite athletes on an inter-county stage and the possibility of being in Croke Park on All-Ireland final day was too good to turn down.”

Amy Lee, Linda Collins, and Méabh Cahalane with the new Cork camogie gear sponsored by BlackBee. Picture: Darragh Kane
Amy Lee, Linda Collins, and Méabh Cahalane with the new Cork camogie gear sponsored by BlackBee. Picture: Darragh Kane

The workload is huge. Long after the games are played, and the hurleys and sliotars are packed away into the boot of the car, Collins is busy ensuring nothing is missed.

It’s a hard task, but it is a labour of love and one he takes huge pride in. Listening to him explain the work he does, it is very plain to see his passion for the role and his attention to detail.

“Analysing each game post-game takes about 15 to 20 hours to complete all the coding of the game and then more time to analyse it in further detail.

The process would include taking multiple camera angles of a game, coding it by using Nacsport software where each player and team event is tracked.

“Thousands of events are tracked each game and this is used as a basis for further analysis.

“Following this process for the last eight years has resulted in building up a large repository of data that is used as benchmarks of performance, assisting with setting team and player targets, and creating a greater understand of performance,” Collins explains.

“All these elements help drive the coaching process in creating better decision-makers on the field.

“Along with building up a repository of data, a repository of game videos has also been created from every game through the years, most games having multiple camera angles to aid the analysis.

“Along with having game videos, after every game each player gets a video of their specific actions in a game for them to self-review and also review on a one-to-one basis with the coaches,” he continues.

Collins liaises closely with the team management and also has a team of analysts with him during games to ensure nothing is missed;

“On match day, I am one of three analysts who are actively monitoring the team and players’ performances, feeding information back to the management team.

Conor Weir and Brian Kelleher work with me in coding the games live, and Lenny Browne is on hand to video each of our games from different camera angles."

When you are seen to be making a difference and getting the results, the effort going in it is worth it all.

On Sunday, Collins will take up his customary spot in the stand, away from the hustle and bustle, but very much a huge part of Cork’s bid to take their first title since 2018.

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