Thursday 23 October 2014

Darragh McManus: Little flash, bling or Hollywood gloss, just good GAA coverage

Published 09/06/2014 | 02:30

From left: Sky Sports presenter Brian Carney with hurling analysts Jamesie O’Connor and Ollie Canning, and GAA anchor Rachel Wyse in their studio before the Kilkenny v Offaly game at Nowlan Park, Kilkenny. Photo: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

WELL there's a sporting shock. After all the recrimination, anguished debate and ill-informed comment, Sky Sports began covering GAA ... and the world didn't turn on its axis.

If anything – depressingly from Offaly's perspective – things remained the same, in that they were crucified by Kilkenny, yet again.

And Sky's debut wasn't hugely different to Gaelic games broadcasting we've seen before.

The stereotype is of a station that's all flash, bling, Hollywood gloss. But their first steps were surprisingly, and pleasingly, low-key.

Opening credits of computer graphics and county crests over dramatic music. Cut to hosts Rachel Wyse and Brian Carney on-pitch, welcoming us to Nowlan Park.

A nice "what this all means to people" video. Back to Rachel and Brian, in studio, with analysts Jamesie O'Connor and Ollie Canning.

The pundits were very good: articulate, thoughtful, obviously know of what they speak (as was Nicky English, co-commentating with Mike Finnerty). Not just "old pros blathering on", but precise, informative and factual.

The hosts were fine too. Rachel's more laidback, Brian's a bit "bigger" on-screen – probably needs to scale it back a little – but they did their job professionally and smoothly.

Indeed, it's weird that people feared some monumental cock-up. This isn't rocket science; it's experienced broadcasters teeing up expert analysis.

There was a little technological whizz-bang, but only a little. Pretty much, it was people talking GAA in an interesting way.

Possibly they're still feeling their way, and the future coverage will bring more of that patented Sky razzmatazz. For now, this was a solid start; only a real contrarian could find too much fault.

Shame about the result, though – it made Sky's debut something of a damp squib.

LOVELY HURLING: The quality of commentary and analysis. And Jamesie's natty three-piece suit.

WELL WIDE: The match itself. Nobody could make this turkey-shoot into TV gold.

Irish Independent

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