Wednesday 17 January 2018

Sky has a silver lining for pubs as GAA coverage starts

Rachel Wyse
Rachel Wyse
Rachel Wyse with fellow presenter Brian Carney and analysts Jamesie O Connor and Peter Canavan at the Sky Sports launch at Croke Park
Paul Bell in his bar
Wayne O'Connor

Wayne O'Connor

Sky Sports finally takes to the field today with its coverage of the GAA championship.

The broadcaster starts its exclusive 14-game coverage with the hurling clash between Kilkenny and Offaly in Nowlan Park. Whatever the result, publicans and GAA clubs could be on to a winner with both expecting a significant influx of fans to watch the 7pm match on TV.

Rehearsals were under way at the home of the Cats last night where 11 cameras have been installed – with "bespoke" angles promised.

Ireland rugby international Brian Carney will co-anchor Sky's coverage with Irish Independent columnist Rachel Wyse.

But the Leinster Council wants a full house and has urged fans to "be there for Sky's first-ever GAA broadcast".

But Offaly publican and chairman of the Offaly GAA Supporters' Club Paul Bell thinks that many fans will choose not to attend the game and instead watch it in bars and pubs. He pays more than €600 a month for a Sky subscription in the Brewery Tap in Tullamore. He says he's unhappy with the cost, "but it is a necessary evil because if I don't pay for it customers won't come in".

And he concedes that he will be far busier tonight because Sky is covering the game.

Former GAA president Nickey Brennan is sympathetic of the costs facing fans, but is confident that Sky's involvement can only be a good thing. "Sky is a serious player in world sport and they know that their reputation is on the line," he said.

Earlier this week, Sky billed the Leinster championship clash as a Connacht game – but Mr Brennan says teething problems are to be expected.

"People will be keen to see if there are any mistakes made – but there will be no mistakes made bye GAA pundits Jamesie O'Connor and Nicky English because they know the game better than anyone," he said.

Irish Independent

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