New AI-powered tool will bring GAA games’ video analysis to a whole new level

Interview with Jimmy Doyle, founder of Clubber

The football or hurling team you coach, lost a very important game yesterday. Disappointing, we know. But what went wrong? The best way to find out is to analyse the recording of the match clip by clip, but that would take you ages to do, and would cost you an arm and a leg to outsource. Discouraging, isn’t it? The good news is that soon you will be able to do it quickly and easily thanks to a new AI-powered tool which is being developed by Clubber and Sparkd.

Clubber Coach: an innovative AI solution for traditional Irish sports.

Clubber Coach, which is the name of the new platform designed by the start up company Clubber, will use artificial intelligence to figure out the highlights of the games in a sequential fashion. This will make it easy and quick for coaches and players to focus on specific video clips and check their puck outs, scores, turnovers etc… At present, the only way for GAA clubs to look back on their games, learn and evolve is by spending an awful amount of time slicing up videos, taking notes and preparing material. As we all know time is luxury these days and not everybody can afford it. Clubber Coach will simplify this process and open the doors for every team in Ireland to access this detailed, sequential video analysis. 

From Microsoft with love.

With more than 25 years of experience in the Tech industry, most of which was spent in Microsoft, and an undivided love for Gaelic Games, Jimmy Doyle is the mind behind this innovative project. During his time in Microsoft as an engineering manager, Jimmy experienced how artificial intelligence is changing the content business and transforming everything inside the company. During the Covid 19 pandemic, live streaming sports matches online became the new rule. That was when he spotted the lack of a tool which would allow Gaelic football and hurling clubs to live stream and analyse their games. At that point, the idea of a streaming platform dedicated to Gaelic Games was born, and Clubber started taking shape in Jimmy’s mind. A live streaming platform and a sports analytics tool at the same time, this was the perfect match between Jimmy’s technological background and his passion for Irish national sports. When in September 2020 he left Microsoft to found Clubber, he knew AI was the right way to go. “Obviously, when you are in Microsoft you live in a sort of technological bubble” says Jimmy “but outside all the traditional businesses just weren’t there yet. But it’s only a matter of time. In my opinion, this is all going to happen, in sports and in all other industries, which will be transformed by AI”.

The encounter with Sparkd.

When Jimmy started his journey with Clubber he knew exactly where he wanted to go, but he wasn’t quite sure about how to get there. At first, he considered hiring other professionals to help him design the platform. Then he spoke to a number of universities which had devised similar prototypes and wanted to develop them. But he soon realised that none of these options suited the scope of his project. It was only after talking to a colleague in the start-up space, that Jimmy was advised to contact Luca Marchesotti and the team at Sparkd, and things have really worked out from there.  For the past 10 months Clubber and Sparkd have been working on collecting as much data as possible from GAA games to train and test the Clubber Coach platform, which should be finalised before the end of 2022.

What do GAA clubs think about Clubber Coach?

As he was collecting data about GAA games, Jimmy started showing the clubs the huge potential that Clubber Coach could offer. “There’s been a variety of reactions” says Jimmy “but the predominant one that I initially get is disbelief. Like, I don’t think you can do this. Then when you show them (what the platform can do) they’re like…Wow!”. The main reason behind this disbelief lies in the fact that we all know AI exists, but only those among us working in the tech industry are really aware about its potential, which is virtually endless. With a few months still to go, we are looking forward to finding out how GAA clubs will welcome this new opportunity, and what impact Clubber Coach will have on their competitiveness.


Author Manuela Armini

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