When we launched the Saffron Gael back in 2017 we had no idea if it would be successful or indeed how successful it was going to be. We both had covered Gaelic games regularly for two weekly newspapers but when those papers folded within weeks of each other we were left with something of a dilemma.
As lifelong followers and supporters of Gaelic games in Antrim we felt we had played our part in helping to promote our national games, particularly within the county and suddenly that promotion opportunity had been removed from us.
After a short discussion we decided that the best way to continue and indeed improve Gaelic coverage within the county was a dedicated website and so the ‘Saffron Gael’ was born.
Within days a number of photographers and reporters had expressed their interest in helping us out and five years later most of them are still on board despite receiving little financial reward. These men and woman, like ourselves are primarily Antrim GAA supporters and without them it would not have been possible to carry the level of coverage we carry daily.
Dunloy v Loughgiel in the Under 21 Hurling final in Armoy on Monday 29th May is the first game the Saffron Gael covered
So then the question was, is there a demand for the ‘Saffron Gael’? The site was launched in June 2017 and in the first year we had 724,728 views and we published 904 reports. In 2017 we had only published for the final 7 months of the year so would we increase our readership in 2018?
Indeed we did and in our first full calendar year the number of hits on the stie increased to 1,373,793 and we published 1,577 posts. In 2019 it increased again to 1,638,846 while publised 1,520 reports.
During Covid the amount of Gaelic games, as in other sports decreased because of restrictions but we were determined to keep going and by publishing alternative articles on club histories and individual profiles on clubs and players we maintained our readership.
Cargin v Creggan in the 2018 final in Ahoghill was one of the lowest scoring championship we have covered in our time, but it was exciting to the last. Cargin won by a point but Creggan showed they were on the way up
2020 saw us record 1,617,956 views, slightly down from the previous year but never the less amazing given the pandemic we were all in.
Would there be a limit to our readership, had our viewing figures peaked? The answer was no as we got back to something of normality in 2021 despite crowds still be limited at games.
In 2021 our viewing figures reached an amazing 1,919,010 and we felt that we had probably reached our peak where viewing figures were concerned but our readership continue to amaze us and as 2022 has progressed we had an inclination that we might surpass last year’s viewing figures.
We started to ask ourselves the question. Could we possibly reach 2,000,000 in 2022? We are pleased to tell you that that figured was reached earlier this month and at the time of publishing today we have had 2,047,193.
That number increases as we speak and we are delighted by the response from our readers. All this would not be possible of course without our dedicated team of photographers and reporters who give selflessly of their time to bring you photographs and reports.
We continue to thank those sponsors, advertisers and clubs who have made the financial contributions to keep the Saffron Gael afloat and growing by the year and we would ask our readership to support these sponsors wherever possible.
We appeal to those clubs who have not yet donated to the Saffron Gael to do so and the site remains open to new advertisers and sponsors to come on board if they wish to do so.