Louth GAA chairman Peter Fitzpatrick calls for RTÉ to state their reasons for ‘boycotting’ the county in their National League coverage

Louth GAA chairman Peter Fitzpatrick has called for RTÉ to make clear their reasons for “boycotting” the county in their National League coverage. Picture: Sportsfile

Caoimhín Reilly

Louth GAA chairman Peter Fitzpatrick has called for RTÉ to make clear their reasons for “boycotting” the county in their National League coverage.

The Wee men, who stand one win away from promotion to Division 1, are the only side in the top two tiers yet to be screened on the broadcaster’s League Sunday highlights programme.

Joanne Cantwell, who presents the show, told viewers that DEFY Páirc Mhuire was unsuitable for RTÉ cameras on Sunday night’s episode, a claim which Fitzpatrick has vehemently denied.

"We need to know the reason why RTÉ are boycotting Louth GAA,” said Fitzpatrick.

"They have shown huge disrespect to the county and its licence payers.

“Two weeks ago, after the Kildare match, I received lots of calls and text from people complaining over the lack of Louth coverage on RTÉ.

“Some of these people were just general sports people who pay their TV licence fee the same as supporters and everybody across the county and they were all very disappointed by Louth not being shown on the Sunday night.

“I phoned somebody in RTÉ to ask what the problem was and I was told that there was no issue between Louth GAA and RTÉ but that RTÉ were prioritising coverage of Derry and Dublin. I was given a guarantee that RTÉ would do their best going forward for Louth and so I took the person at their word.

“TG4 came to Ardee for the Kildare match and I thought the highlights were very good, but I definitely felt that the Cork game would be shown by RTÉ. I couldn’t believe that it wasn’t and since Sunday night, I’ve been inundated by calls and texts from people who are really angry about what has been going on. It’s a disgrace that three of four Division 2 matches were covered last weekend and Louth vs Cork wasn’t one of them.”

Indeed, Cantwell’s comments have upset members of the Ardee St Mary’s club, who have prepared their grounds to host Louth in each of their four home matches this term.

"I’d like to know who told Joanne Cantwell to say that Ardee wasn’t suitable for RTÉ cameras, or where she received that information from,” added Fitzpatrick.

"What she said is very wrong and the Ardee St Mary’s club are not happy about it, and who could blame them?

“TG4 came down in the week leading up to the Kildare game and erected a platform for their camera on the bank side of ground and were highly complimentary of the facility and thankful for the warm welcome they received, and yet the Ardee St Mary’s club have now been told, on air, that their facilities are not suitable for RTÉ. It’s completely wrong.

“After Louth defeated Meath in Navan several weeks ago, I was approached by a reporter for RTÉ radio requesting a player for interview. She was told that it would be no problem and asked which player she would like to speak with. She requested Sam Mulroy and we got Sam, and he did the interview without any problem.

“We have never refused a request from RTÉ and always facilitated them in every way we could, so to have been ignored for six weeks in succession is a kick in the teeth.

“I have no issue with RTÉ showing highlights of Laois and Leitrim or any games in Divisions 3 or 4, but to overlook a game in Division 2, having shown the other matches in the division, is wrong and it’s a step too far.”

The Louth chairman also dismissed that the dearth of coverage had anything to do with a longer standing issue between the national broadcaster and Reds manager Mickey Harte.

And Fitzpatrick is set to bring Louth’s complaints to Saturday’s meeting of the GAA’s Central Council where he will query the content of the rights’ agreement which RTÉ have in place with the Croke Park outfit.