Wednesday 20 September 2017

Newstalk to raise stakes

John Greene

John Greene

It is ironic that in its first GAA season post-Micheál ó Muircheartaigh, RTE radio is facing the biggest challenge to its dominance of summer Sunday afternoons since the arrival of local radio over 20 years ago.

Newstalk -- whose sports coverage is proving more than a match for RTE's on far slimmer resources -- has now entered the GAA championship arena for the first time.

The stations have been going head to head in rugby and soccer but this is the first time that the gauntlet has been thrown down to the state broadcaster's crown jewels, ie the GAA football and hurling championships, by a rival for a national audience and how chiefs in Montrose move to combat the threat will be interesting.

In that context, speculation last week that Brian Carthy has been overlooked for commentating duties for both of the league Division 1 finals is striking. Carthy would have been seen by many -- including himself presumably -- as the heir apparent to ó Muircheartaigh having been the de facto number two GAA commentator for so long.

But Carthy's style is not to every listener's taste and now that there is genuine competition on the horizon, RTE cannot afford to take its audience for granted any more. At the same time, a dilemma surely arises in that, other than the overused Darragh Maloney, there are no obvious other contenders as all of RTE's younger recruits have failed to sparkle.

In the meantime, the station will have to earn its GAA listeners on Sunday afternoons -- which is a whole new ball game for it.

jgreene@independent.ie

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