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Tales of the tape keeping Derry GAA fans inspired during sporting shutdown

 

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Video stars: Top row, left to right, Adrian McGuckin, Anthony Tohill and Kieran McKeever. Middle row, Gerard O'Kane, Seamus Downey and Damian Cassidy. Bottom row, Karen Kielt, Eamonn Burns and Paddy Bradley

Video stars: Top row, left to right, Adrian McGuckin, Anthony Tohill and Kieran McKeever. Middle row, Gerard O'Kane, Seamus Downey and Damian Cassidy. Bottom row, Karen Kielt, Eamonn Burns and Paddy Bradley

Video stars: Top row, left to right, Adrian McGuckin, Anthony Tohill and Kieran McKeever. Middle row, Gerard O'Kane, Seamus Downey and Damian Cassidy. Bottom row, Karen Kielt, Eamonn Burns and Paddy Bradley

Without the games themselves, various roles within the GAA have had a bit of a makeover. But few could be as artistically rewarding as the increased and novel online content of the Derry county board of late.

The Derry communications committee, spearheaded by Public Relations Officer Ciaran McCrory, and helped by former office bearers of the same role in Dermot McPeake and Chris McCann, have been producing a number of video interviews backed up with old footage of players.

While there is no live action on, it's a glorious but yet clever and bite-sized dive into the world of nostalgia that has met with a great response from the Oak Leaf faithful and a greater understanding of their rich history.

"We have been putting out about three every weekend, Friday, Saturday and Sunday night. It is kind of the Glastonbury approach," laughs McCrory.

"We don't want to inundate people with stuff during the week because then you sort of lose the message a wee bit. But it gives us a chance to actually make them when you have that timetable.

"We did a three-parter with Adrian McGuckin. We are kind of tied on Twitter, you can only get two minutes and 20 seconds which, to be honest, to me was kind of the unique selling point of this project, getting somebody to speak but only for a couple of minutes because it keeps people's attention.

"It keeps the brevity of it and they can discuss something, a favourite goal or whatever, quite quickly, if you know what I mean. And it is not like one of these meandering 10-minute videos that you might never get round to watching.

"So that was where we were kind of coming from originally. But Adrian sent us so much stuff, and there is so much you can kind of do with Adrian, that it ended up being a three-parter. But it was all very good!"

One of the aims of the project, with the snappy name of 'We Are Derry', is to broaden the scope of the people who have represented the county down through the decades.

Last weekend they featured Shea Downey, a current senior footballer making his way in his first year in the senior panel and a son of 1993 All-Ireland winning full-forward Seamus.

Some gold dust came with a clip featuring cult hero Enda Muldoon, who is a current senior selector and much-loved player from the 2000s, and older viewers were treated to an enlightening piece with Tom McGuinness, a brother of the late deputy First Minister Martin, and a winner of three Ulster titles as a skilful midfielder.

It's all made for a novel start to McCrory's first season as PRO.

"Let's say Derry are in the Championship at the minute, there would be a lot of stuff around it that I haven't got to grips with at all this year," he says.

"It was more about how we keep a connection with Derry GAA as an entity, with the followers. How do we keep connected to the clubs?

"When there are games going on, that stuff comes naturally. But when we are in this with a hiatus of club activity, we can't lie idle and you wouldn't get that connection."

And the production of it is made easier by the fact people are becoming more comfortable with technology in this enforced lockdown.

"I was speaking to the ones in the GAA website a couple of weeks ago, that if you were to tackle something like this over the winter, you would be sending cameras or even crews to people's houses and it would be a much more resource-intensive projects," says McCrory.

"Now we just say to the people 'send us on a video for a couple of minutes' and we will do it all by WhatsApp."

What sets the project apart, however, is the use of archive footage.

"I have found some old DVDs at home, like the Liam Óg Hinphey one last week was based around the Tyrone Derry game in 2006, which my dad had in the house at the time," explains McCrory.

"The likes of Dermot and Chris have been so involved in so much stuff down through the years - like exhibitions around the 125th Anniversary celebrations, and there was a lot of material built up around the 1993 Jubilee year, so they have plenty of material and footage floating about.

"But in terms of obscure stuff, we did one on Declan Bateson and the first-round game in Castleblayney in 1992.

"It wasn't a necessarily well-known game or anything and you wouldn't find much about it on TG4, but I had footage and we were able to stitch it up along with the interviews.

"It really makes the thing come to life if you can add footage to it, especially if it is an obscure game. A lot of the younger ones might not have been aware of it at all."

Belfast Telegraph