For the first time ever on Sunday, Dundalk and Cork City FC will contest a third consecutive FAI Cup final and while many may have feared a staleness setting in for a fixture that has become one of the biggest rivalries in Irish football over recent seasons, Mark McNulty’s antics during the ‘’Rebels’’ title celebrations have certainly added fresh spark to an already fiery fixture.
While the FAI’s marketing efforts, or lack of effort as many critics have pointed out, are again being discussed ahead of Sunday’s showpiece, the media buzz around this fixture has been far from lacking given McNulty’s comments.
To the fore of this big match build up has been ‘Between the Stripes LOI podcast’. A new face in the League of Ireland’s ever growing podcast market, Between the Stripes LOI podcast have been breaking records of their own in recent days thanks to two hugely successful end of season shows.
Last weeks episode 17, which was labelled a #DecisionDay special due to the fact it featured guests from all 3 relegation threatened sides ahead of the final round of games in the Premier Division plus guests from the two already relegated sides in Finn Harps and Drogheda United.
With Ger O’Brien (St.Pat’s legend and current assistant manager) and Drogheda United goalkeeping coach Chris Bennion just two of the most well known figures to appear on episode 17, listenership figures went through the roof as the show recorded over 1000 listeners for the first time in its short history.
Between the Stripes LOI podcast was the brain child of Between the Stripes founder and co-host on the show Kieran Burke, who we spoke to earlier about the early success of his new LOI venture.
‘’Having set up Between the Stripes website in January 2016 out of frustration over the lack of Longford Town FC news & coverage both online, in traditional media and even from the club itself I had always wanted to branch out to a wide LOI audience by putting together a show that would offer a fresh perspective on the League of Ireland while delivering some top class interviews from not only players, managers and board members within the league but from passionate fans of the clubs, as I feel it’s the fans that are the heartbeat of this league and offer the most insightful and genuine perspectives on the LOI.’’
When asked if he could believe how quickly ‘Between the Stripes LOI podcast’ had caught on with fans of the league, Kieran had this to say:
‘’When myself and Jon (Jon Brier podcast co-host) set out we had absolutely nothing, not even a basic microphone.’’
‘’ We recorded the first episode through the laptop speaker which obviously meant sound quality was an issue and while we pulled an audience over over 400 people on Mixcloud we knew sound quality was something we’d have to address meaning purchasing equipment out of our own pocket as we had zero budget or sponsorship. However, those who did listen to the first show admitted that while the sound quality needed work that the content was great and that they really enjoyed the discussion and debates we had on that first episode so we knew we had the right format and ingredients we just needed time to reach a level we were content with and I think it’s fair to say our last two episodes of the season episode 17 and episode 18 were of a really professional standard and the record breaking figures back that up.’’
Having started out with no financial backing for this project, ‘Between the Stripes LOI podcast’ was only available via the free to use Mixcloud service in its fledging day’s, however since making the show available on Audioboom, ITunes, Pocketcasts and Podcast Republic the shows weekly audience has trebled in size, something Burke spoke proudly of:
‘’The very first week we launched on ITunes we managed to get ourselves into the top 23 in the sports and recreation category on the ITunes Charts, we were even inside the overall top 150 ahead of celebrities like Ricky Gervais and only two placed behind Noel Gallagher, to see our show ranked above the likes of Gary Neville’s podcast and the official Liverpool FC podcast was surreal.’’
However, thanks to episode 17 and 18’s record breaking figures, ‘Between the Stripes LOI podcast’ has found itself at dizzy new heights in the ITunes Charts, climbing as high as 6th in the sports and recreation category yesterday, while Joe Duffy’s liveline podcast was just one of the many big names Burke & Brier managed to surpass by coming in at an astonishing 34th in the overall podcasts charts on ITunes.
So what next for the leagues highest ranked dedicated podcast at present?
‘’Well episode 18 was our season finale and what a show it was with Stephen O’Donnell, Alan Cawley, Declan ‘’Fabio’’ O’Brien, Stephen Henderson, Neale Fenn and Cork City die-hard @TheOpelJersey joining us, but we do have a Christmas special in the works at present so keep an eye out for that.’’
‘’Beyond that myself and Jon will be sitting down to bang our heads together for 2018 while I’m delighted to say we have a brand new website on the way thanks to the guys at Diaga, who are of course majorly involved with Finn Harps and will be coming on board as our title sponsors next season.’’
Before singing off Burke asked to pay thanks to those who have backed ‘Between the Stripes LOI podcast’ since it’s foundation at the midway point of this season.
‘’Myself and Jon are so grateful to everyone who has tuned in, subscribed and reviewed us on ITunes or other platforms, sent us feedback via our social media pages and of course all of our superb guests who gave up their time to speak to us. That’s what I love about this league, what other league or sport could you ring up the captain of Dundalk FC or the manager of Cobh Ramblers and have a genuine chat with them about the league, it’s amazing and we are so grateful.’’
‘’Finally I have to say a huge word of thanks to Michael from FloMAX.ie who sponsored our final two shows of the season. When you are putting your own money and endless hours into a project like this it really is indescribable the feeling of satisfaction and gratitude you get when someone like Michael and FloMAX are willing to put their faith in you and back you and we look forward to working with FloMAX.ie over the coming seasons.’’
You can catch episode 18 – Season finale of Between the Stripes LOI podcast on AUDIOBOOM: https://goo.gl/apXyDy or ITUNES: https://goo.gl/hjheqa while you can also find the show on Mixcloud, Pocketcasts and Podcast Republic simply search for ‘Between the Stripes LOI podcast’ while the #BTS twitter handle is @BetweenStripes who are also on Facebook and Instagram, search for Between the Stripes.