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Latest news, player recruitment and online addiction

The Internet ARC is long, but it bends to an ultra-niche specialization.

Now, alongside Tesla, SpaceX and a bloated messianic-libertarian complex owned by Elon Musk, is a fiery corner of Twitter dedicated to tracking the exploits and contributions of a jaw-dropping selection of footballers in real time. Irish.

Many Irish football fans – as well as some who run the game and all of its journalists – are familiar with some of these accounts, including Irish Abroad, Kenny’s children and the deceased Rep of Ireland Player Tracker.

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These accounts follow hundreds of Irish footballers around the world, tweeting their appearances as well as any notable achievements in said matches.

The reach of some is dizzying.

Take February 19 of this year, the day when Republic of Ireland Player Tracking sent 82 updates. These included obvious achievements, such as Evan Ferguson’s Premier League debut for Brighton, Nathan Collins’ first league start for Burnley and Shane Long’s first Premier League goal in two years.

But with that…

Leigh Kavanagh and Killian Cahill start for Brighton U18s.

Ireland U18 Eiran Cashin with a block.

Glory Nzingo is a starter for the Stade de Reims reserve.

All of this was done for free and ultimately at a cost.

Tim Graham, the man behind the updates, announced three days later that he was sold out and called him. He had set up a Patreon page to try and monetize the pursuit, but it didn’t work, so with his energy and time disproportionate to the effort involved, it was time to move on. He had accumulated 12,800 subscribers.

“My God, it’s exhausting,” says Tim Le42. “I wouldn’t have had much of a social life, really not. Work suffered. I don’t regret doing it, but I don’t have much to show for now. I think I did something exceptional. I’m very proud of the page, but what good is it to me now? »

the Kenny’s children The page is still going strong, but its founder, Kevin Higgins, stepped down and the account is now managed by Ronan Calvert, a journalist working with Pundit Arena.

“Unfortunately, I got a little overwhelmed, I overdid it,” says Kevin, adding that it took at least 20 hours a week.

soccer manager instilled in Kevin a love for player detail, but it wasn’t until Stephen Kenny was appointed Ireland U21 manager that he married a propulsive positivity about Irish football.

“Coinciding with Kenny taking over, I was optimistic about how things would turn out,” Kevin says. “You had promising players like Parrott and Connolly and Obafemi. I saw the slow decline of Irish football, but it was the first time I felt things were turning around. There was a positive angle, a youthful angle, but I wanted to make sure everyone was covered so that the 23 and 24-year-old players in Ligue 2 weren’t ignored either.

Here’s the problem with being global with a diaspora as large as Ireland’s: the deeper you dig, the further you realize you have to go. Tim threw himself into it when Kevin announced he was quitting Kenny’s childrenand while his thoroughness was partly self-motivated, it was also imposed on him.

“I was just a big fan of Kenny’s childrenhe said he was throwing it and he couldn’t get it to work, so I stupidly thought, “Well, sure, I can do it when he hasn’t.”

“Once I commit to something, it’s all or nothing. But I was getting messages if I missed something: A Ligue 2 guy who had an U18 cap ten years ago put in a ball for a goal for Scunthorpe. We do not care? I don’t care, so who else cares?

“It wouldn’t be the player [contacting him] very often. Sometimes it would be a follower, or other times it would be an agent or an uncle or a relative. You should have seen my private messages!

“I had one or two parents…one in particular was very strict about it,” Kevin says. “He was telling me that his son was in a league way down the structure, and then I would very quickly get a follow-up message saying, ‘Hey, I sent you this. It wasn’t anything aggressive, but you felt a lot of pressure to make sure that player was mentioned.

Here is the method of madness.

Kevin found an app, SofaScore, that allowed him to follow individual players rather than matches, and he then backed up his sources with modern journalism methods: tracking every club’s Twitter accounts with an Irish player, as well as the personal Instagram accounts of as many players as he could find. “Gamers love to post about themselves,” Kevin says.

It all helped him get stories, announcing Adam Idah was set to make his first Premier League start against Manchester United in 2020, earning him a swift reprimand from Norwich City.

Tim, meanwhile, could leave a legacy. “I have signed, I would say, between 15 and 20 eligible players for Ireland.”

Tracking Cian Coleman in the Leeds U18 side, he became aware that some of his team-mates were also eligible for Ireland. Midfielder Connor Douglas’ father has messaged his son to play in green, while striker Ronnie McGrath has reached out to say he too is eligible for Ireland. Tim says the FAI was unaware of McGrath’s existence and so forwarded the message to Abbottstown.

“Two weeks before I gave up he texted me saying, ‘You put these other guys on, I don’t know if you know that, but I’m Irish. My grandparents are from Dublin. I knew the name: he had been on a highlight video of the match of the day on a young promising English player, it is on YouTube.

“I assumed the FAI knew about this guy and turned him down. But he said, ‘No, there was never any contact.’ Why he couldn’t do it himself, I don’t know, but I said I’d send it to the FAI. I have no doubt he will be capped for Ireland at youth level.

“I just wanted to post squad sheets, but it became a big part of what I was doing.”


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Source: BBC Sport/YouTube

The FAI, meanwhile, gave Kevin a column in the International Match Program in which he featured some rising stars.

Saturdays were the busiest days on both accounts, and they started early in the morning with a slate of Premier League U18 fixtures followed by the usual series of fixtures in England and Scotland.

However, the principle of endless growth in football meant that their efforts were never really limited to those few hours a week.

“There are games on Saturday nights, then there are games on Sundays, and every weeknight there are games,” sighs Tim. “The levels of concentration you need to stay there…I didn’t have much of a social life. Weekend: gone. If there were only matches and team sheets, it would be one thing, but you always have to be connected. There’s always something going on.

“And as I am, I can’t do half measures. I would be the same as any other random account if I did it this way, and I didn’t want to. I wanted it to be the top drawer.

“I was taking a class at UCD and there were nights where I had to be told to put the phone down,” Kevin explains. “I was so addicted to covering it, that it would dictate when I dined out or when I did certain things.”

Tim tried out a Patreon account and Kevin found sponsorship, but neither could monetize the gig enough, which ended up being a factor, but not his only reason.

“Half the reason I left was a concern about how it was affecting my lifestyle,” Kevin says, speaking of social media “addiction”. “Part of me always thought it was unhealthy: that level of addiction to posting things and reacting to them.”

“It’s very stressful,” says Tim. “It’s hard to explain, if I didn’t do it on some level it didn’t really matter. Your mind is constantly working, and in a larger sense it’s a media addiction I know it was very focused on one thing in particular, football, but being so aware of what’s going on on Twitter would wear you down.

Kevin’s interest has been largely maintained – I called him without thinking during an Ireland Under-16 international game – and he says he’s open to returning to it in the future, s there is a full-time opportunity.

Tim, meanwhile, says he is “not bitter, but disappointed” by the lack of reward and has completely disengaged.

“I deleted the [Twitter] app from my phone. I just don’t want to know, to be brutally honest. The weeks after quitting, I didn’t watch a single football score, I skipped the football sections of the newspaper.

“Now I’m not constantly on my phone, making sure the Morecambe squad sheet comes out on time. You might laugh about it, but I’ve taken up yoga and meditation.

“I went the other way: very cold, very detached.”