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Eamon McGee Points Out The Detrimental Effect WhatsApp Groups Have On Football Teams

Eamon McGee Points Out The Detrimental Effect WhatsApp Groups Have On Football Teams
By Gavin Cooney
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One of the best jokes about Cristiano Ronaldo was made last year, by a football journalist during Euro 2016. "Great player Ronaldo, but there's definitely a WhatsApp group that he doesn't know about it".

WhatsApp is the platform through which plenty of teams organise themselves, from professional footballers to Junior C plodders, but the extent to which teams rely on it for communication - and confrontation - is cutting ice among some of the more recently retired players in the GAA.

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There is a cloak-and-dagger element to it all that perhaps stymies true honesty: so while there'll be a WhatsApp group for players and management in a GAA team, you can be pretty sure that both are part of separate groups, too, in which they can safely talk about the other without too many ramifications.

Writing in today's Irish Daily Star, Eamon McGee accentuates a few of the issues in Gaelic football at the moment - one of them being Pete McGrath's ousting in Fermanagh - as being a result of a lack of honesty and straight-talking confrontation, a culture incubated behind the safety of the WhatsApp screen.

It's become so easy to call someone out on a WhatsApp group or on social media. I've actually seen players typing out a rant on their phones but, if you put the same fella in front of a group, they won't say a word.

There is nothing better for a team than a healthy chat where everything is out in the open, and people aren't afraid to make constructive criticisms of teammates...

...I've come to detest these bloody WhatsApp groups for teams. They're fine in terms of the logistics of training session times or whatever, but that should be it.

It's too easy to hide behind a message posted on WhatsApp.

This echoes sentiments expressed by Paul Galvin earlier this year:

I found the hardness of his mentality a real inspiration as a player. He demanded, he commanded, he reprimanded when necessary, and he’d give you the cold shoulder to make a point if he had to. I’m not sure the game allows for such a hard mentality anymore.

Group culture is being driven in a way no one fully appreciates or understands. In time some think-tank at a university should do a study on WhatsApp and its effect on team culture and mentality. It took hold of the game towards the end of my career and I never got into it.

It’s all smiley-faces, thumbs-up and virtual high-fives from the couch nowadays. Honest, frank, face-to-face exchanges on the training ground or dressing room feel like a thing of the past. This is where team culture should be created and driven and points made, not on an app.

It's well worth reading McGee's full column, in today's Irish Daily Star. 

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