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Mayo All-Ireland drama helps inspire award winning Young Scientist gumshield entry

Three students at St Gerald’s College in Castlebar were awarded third place overall for their sports related entry.

Mayo's Cillian O'Connor kicks a late point in last September's All-Ireland final.
Mayo's Cillian O'Connor kicks a late point in last September's All-Ireland final.
Image: INPHO/Lorraine O'Sullivan

CILLIAN O’CONNOR’S DECISION to point a late free for Mayo in last year’s All-Ireland football final helped inspire a project on gumshields that won an award and drew huge praise at last weekend’s BT Young Scientist competition.

Mayo trailed Dublin in the Croke Park clash when O’Connor opted to point a late free as he believed there was enough time remaining afterwards for Mayo to get a levelling score.

However the final whistle was blown shortly after and Dublin ran out 2-12 to 1-14 winners.

Mayo teenagers and Transition Year students at St Gerald’s College in Castlebar – Conor Gillardy, Evan Heneghan and Calum Kyne – were present at the game and the incident was the brainchild for their entry to the BT Young Scientist competition.

Their project, “A Gumshield Communication Device”, was awarded third place overall and was judged the best runner-up. Calum Kyne explained to TheScore.ie the background to the entry and what it entailed.

“We’re all interested in technology and sport. Having been at the All-Ireland final and what happened to Cillian O’Connor got us thinking. Maybe if his manager had been able to give him advice, it could have helped him.

“We’d been brainstorming for ideas for the competition and then went with this. Basically the gumshield allows the manager to talk directly to the player. The manager wears a headset and talks into the headset.

“A wireless receiver means that is passed to a vibration notice which is embedded in the back of the gumshield. When a player bites down on the gumshield, they can hear what is said. It’s called bone conduction, whereby the sound passes from the jawbone to the ear.”


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(Left to right) Stephen Ferris, Evan Heneghan, Conor Gilardy, Calum Kyne and Stuart Olding

The trio received a huge reaction with Dublin All-Ireland winner Jack McCaffrey along with Ulster players Stephen Ferris and Stuart Olding praising them for their entry at last weekend’s event at the RDS.

“We got an excellent reaction”, revealed Kyne. “There was a lot of media coverage and a lot of interest in it. It was great to talk to well-known sports people at it.

“We got a few business cards at the exhibition and some gumshield companies were talking to us. So hopefully the patent gets accepted and we might be able to get it manufactured. It’s something that can be used in any sport where players wear gumshields.”

St Gerald’s Castlebar vice-principal Cormac Hannon praised the students.

“It’s a very good idea and very good concept. We’re very proud of the students for their work and also our other Transition Year students who were involved.”

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Fintan O'Toole

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