RTE swayed by Dubs' mass appeal as Kerry clash is snubbed
RTE has passed up the opportunity to televise live the plum All-Ireland quarter-final between Kerry and Donegal on Sunday afternoon.
Instead the national broadcaster has opted to activate its choice to cover the Dublin-Laois match on Saturday evening, leaving the Sunday afternoon clash exclusively for TV3.
The decision has caused surprise in Croke Park where it was expected that the prime 4.0 slot on Sunday would be the station's first choice, given the level of interest and the anticipated clash of styles that the game is expected to produce.
But RTE's head of sport Ryle Nugent said last night that the audience generated by Dublin, their status as All-Ireland champions and a prime-time Saturday evening slot influenced the decision.
"It was an extremely difficult choice in a short space of time. But we felt that the audience they have and the fact that Dublin are All-Ireland champions influenced it," he said.
It is understood that the way that the live TV contracts are framed bound two hurling quarter-finals and the four football quarter-finals together in one package. RTE had choices one, two, three and six, with TV3 getting choices four and five.
With no knowledge of the football quarter-final pairings in advance, RTE opted for the two hurling quarter-finals that put Cork and Waterford and All-Ireland champions Kilkenny and Limerick on the one bill.
That left them with first and last choices for the football quarter-finals. They chose Dublin, TV3 then moved in for Donegal and Kerry and Cork and Kildare on the Sunday, leaving RTE with Mayo and Down at 5.0 on Saturday evening.
RTE have only covered one Dublin game in this championship -- the Leinster final with Meath -- and that may also have influenced the decision.
But there is no escaping the attraction that Donegal and Kerry has, and the neutral interest is huge.
Meanwhile, the GAA have confirmed that there will be no extra-time in any of the football quarter-finals.
It was written in the match programme for Sunday's All-Ireland hurling quarter-finals that extra-time would be played in the event of a draw, but a motion passed at Congress in April now allows for quarter-final replays. Last year the epic Donegal-Kildare quarter-final went to a replay.
For the second successive weekend, the referees for the four football matches are being drawn from an exclusive panel of five.
Cormac Reilly and Joe McQuillan are in action for the third weekend running. Reilly takes charge of Dublin v Laois, with McQuillan on duty for Cork-Kildare.
Maurice Deegan, who refereed last weekend's Kerry-Clare match, has the Mayo-Down match, while Marty Duffy is back in action again for Donegal-Kerry. David Coldrick sits out this weekend.