Saturday 19 August 2017

Eamonn Sweeney: Croke Park support Sky in offering Gaelic games for the few, not the many

Eamonn Sweeney

Michael Duignan is one of RTé’s very best Gaelic games pundits and perhaps my personal favourite.

The Offaly man’s trademark is an impatience with jargon and beating around the bush and an ability to cut to the heart of a matter which is made all the more effective by the low-key nature of his delivery.

His attack on the GAA’s decision to hand exclusive rights to the Kilkenny-Waterford game to Sky was typical Duignan. It was straightforward, it was honest and it was dead right.

There’s no point complaining that he shouldn’t have said it on RTé. They’re hardly going to say it on Sky, are they?

The viewing figures for one of the best games of the last decade were a catastrophic 26,000 spectators. The GAA’s Sky deal is indefensible, both for the way it shuts out ordinary supporters and for the way it fails to promote the games effectively.

Meanwhile, over half of the remaining 15 games in the football championship will be exclusively on Sky.

Croke Park’s public attitude is that it’s not their responsibility to provide televised matches to people like Duignan’s father.

Those people can, in the words of Boris Johnson, go and whistle. Croke Park support Sky in offering Gaelic games for the few, not the many.

Who’d have thought the GAA would end up being run by a bunch of Tories? As that great hurling fan Gary from Stevenage might tweet, ‘It’s mental, mate’.

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