BY DENIS HURLEY
FOLLOWING a successful launch at the annual GAA Games Development Conference in Croke Park recently, Mark O’Donovan is hopeful that his new app can make a national impact.
O’Donovan, a Bantry Blues club member, is the new coaching officer on the Carbery divisional board and is also the creator of Play Us, which aims to allow clubs set up challenge games in a straightforward manner.
Fellow Bantry men Ruairí Deane and Graham Canty were on hand to help launch the product, with Mark admitting that necessity was the mother of invention on his part.
‘I don’t have any IT experience, absolutely none,’ he says, ‘I work as a foreman on a building site, but I was involved with teams and you’d be blue in the face trying to arrange games.
‘I just got sick of it, basically, and threw around a few ideas. I had approached the FAI and the IRFU to try to get funding to get it off the ground but the GAA were the only organisation to show interest and they funded half of it then.
‘It was developed by a business in Galway and it’s very simple to use. If you’re with a team, you download the app from the Android Store and input the relevant info.
‘If you want to arrange something then, you’ll select the type of event – it could be a challenge match, blitz or tournament – and set the time, date and radius, it could be anything, 40km, 70 or 200. Anyone within that radius then will get the invitation and they can accept or decline.’
The app is free to download, with a €3.99 annual subscription payable on first usage to cover initial costs and maintenance. The next step now for O’Donovan is to develop it further, though he knows that it won’t all be plain sailing.
‘Working with a governing body is the only way to do it, really,’ he says, ‘as you need all the teams pre-loaded, but the GAA doesn’t have a full database of all of the GPS co-ordinates for clubs.
‘It does mean a few teething problems, but that’s part of the challenge.
‘Given my own location, we’re hoping that Cork will be the launchpad for it so we’d ask clubs to check that their information is right and, if not, for them to contact us.
‘Hopefully, we can get school teams and other sports involved and really expand it.’