Eoin Byrne – Performance Analysis Allowed me to Work with the Very Best
Alumni of Sports Science and PE
Performance Analysis on television is mostly left to former players.
Take Damien Duff for example. Duff has proven to be one of the best soccer analysts on tv since beginning his stint at RTE. It wasn’t a surprise because we knew about Duff’s pedigree as a former intentional footballer and coach.
But while being a former player opens the door to performance analysis jobs on tv, it doesn’t guarantee you’ll be good in that role.
Duff is one of the best because of his work rate. He would arrive at 8am ahead of an 8pm Champions League game to begin his preparation.
How do we know this?
Eoin Byrne, a graduate of Portobello Institute’s BSc (Hons) Sports Science and Performance Analysis degree, was one of the few who got to witness Duff’s expertise in action.
Whether it was the intricacies of defending corners or the specific requirements of different systems, the then RTE producer gained a level of insight he’d never had before.
And that was saying something because Eoin has always had an advanced understanding of sports, even before he completed his Performance Analysis degree.
Like many of his age, Eoin pushed his passion aside to start a career in business before being tempted into the world of sports through Portobello. He spent his first two years out of college in a business course before volunteering for St. Vincent de Paul.
“I did a lot of organizing sports and coaching. It just led me down the realization I didn’t want to do business forever. I wouldn’t be suited to a desk job and I needed to look that bit further. I didn’t have enough points to do sports science so I found that Portobello was an up-and-coming sports science and performance analysis degree programme…it didn’t necessarily need the points.
I thought ‘Jesus, that’s a great opportunity to do it’ so I jumped ship and did it.
I’ve never really looked back since and loved it.”
Although Eoin entered Portobello expecting to become a PE teacher or coach, he eventually found his way into performance analysis. “I’m lucky I’ve always had a good eye for sport and I’ve always understood sport… Video analysis was always something that intrigued me.”
Using his own innate sporting knowledge and the education he received in performance analysis from Portobello, Eoin eventually found his way through RTE to become a producer at Eir Sport.
Whenever Eir broadcast a game across soccer, rugby or GAA, it was Eoin who was in the ear of each performance analyst during broadcasts. He would cut clips together and discuss the halftime/fulltime analysis with the likes of Kenny Cunningham, Joe Brolly and Peter Stringer.
And while he had to work his way up after starting as an assistant, Eoin believes his performance analysis degree at Portobello was integral for giving him an advantage over his coworkers.
“It gave me the avenue to explore sport at a much higher level than I ever could have imagined.
I’ve been involved in loads of other sports but the one I’m most involved with is GAA. [At Portobello] you’d meet people who were in soccer, people that were into equestrian, there’s rugby, there’s all sorts. There was people that were into sailing at the time as well. It was great, you had people from all around the country that were doing it. It was just a motivating environment.
The lectures were great. The methods were amazing.
Although studying was something I always struggled with, when you’re in a course that suits you to the ground and so orientated to what you love, it’s quite easy to take in the information so I think the whole environment was pretty good.
It was just a really enjoyable course.”
Eoin’s experience and education through Portobello helped him connect with Neil Lennon when he was an analyst at Eir. Lennon invited Eoin to Scotland for a week to work with his team’s video analysts. He got to see performance analysis in action at the top level.
He eventually did his thesis based on what he learned there.
Now as he looks towards America for the next steps in his performance analysis career, Eoin looks back on the importance of Portobello and the alternative route it gave him to his degree.
He didn’t have the point requirements for other colleges but ultimately gained more by going through Portobello.
“I struggle with the whole CAO thing at times. It makes me uncomfortable. It’s tough enough going through that age…It’s important that people in this country [understand] we’ve a lot of great colleges, we’ve a lot of great systems. It’s important for people who don’t necessarily do well, like I was a late developer, [to know about the alternative options].
I was never massively academic, but I was certainly passionate and now I’m very lucky I’m in an amazing job and there’s not many of them.
It’s a great degree programme, it just gives people a chance which is all you can ask for.”