Tuesday 6 December 2016

Fury in west Cork as RTÉ fails to broadcast Rio rowing heat live

Published 10/08/2016 | 02:30

Gary and Paul O’Donovan in action during the Men’s Lightweight Double Sculls heats. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Gary and Paul O’Donovan in action during the Men’s Lightweight Double Sculls heats. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Rowing fans expressed fury over the failure by RTÉ to broadcast live on TV a heat won by two west Cork brothers at the Rio Olympics.

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RTÉ did broadcast the lightweight double sculls heat an hour after it took place - and got plaudits for a subsequent interview with delighted Skibbereen brothers Gary (23) and Paul (22) O'Donovan, which was hailed as "pure Cork."

However, the decision to retain the TV focus on the fall-out from the exit of double Olympic medallist Paddy Barnes, who had just lost his bout to a Spanish opponent, rather than broadcast the rowing heat live from the Olympic complex at Lagoa was slated by west Cork locals and rowing fans.

Rowing fans complained that it was nonsensical given that the O'Donovan brothers are reigning European champions and are considered to have a great chance of a medal in Rio.

Skibbereen's Councillor Joe Carroll said it was a very disappointing stance by the State broadcaster.

"It was shocking that our rowers who have a great chance of bringing medals should be ignored in this way," he said.

"We are very proud of them in Skibbereen and throughout Cork. They are two lovely lads and it was hard to believe they were ignored by the national broadcaster while BBC managed to show the heat live," he told C103FM.

"We had to find out on social media that they had qualified."

RTÉ took to social media to stress that there was a live stream of the rowing via its special Olympic website.

Today's rowing semi-final will be covered live on TV.

But Gary and Paul's RTÉ interview became a social media hit as they joked about the blustery conditions in Rio - comparing it to the wild conditions they are used to in west Cork.

The brothers joked they were "disappointed" their heat was cancelled on Sunday due to weather: "It would have been a bit of craic."

Irish Independent

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