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30 Sept 2022

Joe Carroll: Locally-owned company is good for GAA and soccer

Statsports looking to bring  a Community ethos and Premier League connections to Dundalk FC

STATSports Co founder and new part owner of Dundalk FC Sean O'Connor. (Pic: Dundalk FC)

Isn’t there a fine for a player, or his club, when, after hitting the net, he runs to supporters and strips off his jersey? If there is, it hasn’t deterred a lot of English League goalscorers.

It happens nearly every week, and at one time I found it cringe-inducing.  But not anymore. Whenever it happens I’m interested to see if the celebrant – if I can call him that – is wearing a STATSports device.

On the day Man U were humiliated at Vicerage Road, the chap who made it 4-1 for Watford couldn’t wait to get to the sideline to cast off. To me it looked as though he was geared up in the black of STATSports, but the local phenomenon’s name wasn’t to be seen.

On inquiring, I was told that Watford are indeed on the STATSports books, but like all other English League clubs can’t carry the company’s logo anymore. Club sponsors are not keen on it being there.

Not that this is going to harm in any way the athletic performance monitoring company founded in 2007 by Dundalk’s Alan Clarke and a Bellurgan lad born and bred, Sean O’Connor.

It is today enjoying global success with many of sport’s best-known clubs signed up. The two Manchesters may be the best of enemies on the pitch, but when it comes to STATSports they’re at one.

As is widely known by now, STATSports have taken over ownership of Dundalk FC along with former part-owner, Andy Connolly.

O’Connor is to be the new chairman, with Clarke and Connolly sitting on the board. Many of those involved prior to Peak6 taking over in 2018, among them Connolly’s brother, Martin, are back in harness, filling pivotal roles.

Has it happened anywhere else in the country where the same company is sponsoring both GAA county and League of Ireland Premier teams in their area? Carling’s name was carried by the two Glasgow teams for a time, but this is different. It’s a cross-over of two associations involved in different sports, soccer and Gaelic games.

Louth county teams have been wearing the STATSports logo for the past few years, and while neither Alan Clarke nor Sean O’Connor might have worn the county jersey, both belong to families in which there are senior championship medals.

Clarke, a minor championship winner with Clan na Gael, was a teenager when his dad, Jim, played on the Clans team that brought the Joe Ward Cup to Castletown in 1985, the first time it had been there in 26 years.

He was at centre-half forward, flanked by Aidan Wiseman and team captain Benny McKeever on the team that beat Roche Emmets at St Brigid’s Park. When Clans regained the title two years later, he was again a winner.

O’Connor played mostly with Bellurgan United, but his brother, Danny, has been a multiple medal winner with St Patrick’s. A tricky corner-forward with a keen eye for a score, Danny had one of his best-ever outings in the defeat of Dreadnots in the 2012 final, earning the man-of-the-match award.

In financing Louth and Dundalk – and also Clan na Gael – the boys haven’t forgotten their roots. 

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