Tuesday 21 November 2017

Cormac Byrne: RTE coverage of league clashes is mid table at best

Tom Kenny, Cork, in action against Joe Canning and Andrew Smyth, Galway. Allianz Hurling League, Division 1, Galway v Cork, Pearse Stadium, Galway.
Tom Kenny, Cork, in action against Joe Canning and Andrew Smyth, Galway. Allianz Hurling League, Division 1, Galway v Cork, Pearse Stadium, Galway.
Cormac Byrne

Cormac Byrne

Despite the Baltic conditions the cockles were warmed by another splendid weekend of GAA action around the country even if RTE’s coverage left us feeling a little short-changed.

It was a particularly stirring Sunday in Division 1A with just one point separating Kilkenny and Clare in Ennis and Waterford and Tipp in Dungarvan, and Cork rallying late to earn a draw in Salthill.

The weekend's results mean that every team can still qualify for the playoffs and be relegated going into next weekend’s final round of fixtures.

You would think that our national broadcaster would be lapping this kind of excitement up but they only had highlight’s of the Cats win in Clare and a results wrap for hurling on their ‘League Sunday’ show.

Deferred coverage of the Kilkenny game had already been shown on TG4 earlier that day, in fact the only game on last night’s show which hadn’t already been on the airwaves was Kerry’s win over Cork.

An RTE press release had stated that the show would include highlights from the clash of Galway and Cork game but no coverage arrived because of a technical problem.

Another virtuoso performance from Joe Canning which included a stunning sideline cut from 70metres and a spirited comeback from the Rebels went unseen by the masses.

RTE have subsequently released a three minutes highlight reel of the game on their website but it’s scant consolation.

There was no sign of Cyril Farrell or Tomas Mulcahy to dissect the Kilkenny game or the other events in the hurling day meaning that Gaelic Football took up three quarters of the hour long broadcast.

RTE gave this statement to independent.ie explaining the content of League Sunday: "Each week League Sunday looks to broadcast as many highlights from football and hurling games in the different divisions as is editorially possible within the duration of the programme.

"RTÉ is not the primary rights holder for the league (this is TG4) however each week RTÉ still features unseen matches, which this week included Cork v Kerry as you mentioned.

"Sunday night’s programme was also due to feature highlights of Galway v Cork as billed but due to a technical problem in Galway on Sunday night, this wasn’t possible.

"Highlights of this game are now available to watch online http://www.rte.ie/sport/player/809/378272/ 

"An editorial decision was made at the start of the season that the programme would travel to sports grounds around the country with the presenter interviewing managers and analysts pitchside in a move to vary the presentation.

"Michael Lyster will be presenting later programmes in the series from studio as well."

Coverage of the lower leagues throughout all the broadcasters has been minimal, Westmeath will be playing in Division One next season after a great showing in the second their of the football league but their surprising rise to prominence has not been televised.

Of the 34 games played in the National League over the weekend across both codes, there were only video highlights from four, two shown live and one game deferred.

Limerick staged an incredible comeback to beat Offaly in Division 1B but only the patrons who braved the cold at O’Connor Park in Tullamore witnessed it.

The great drama and excitement that goes hand in hand with top level Gaelic Games action is being lost.

Sunday Sport which covered the league action for RTE in recent years was much more detailed with broader coverage and more in-depth analysis.

The GAA’s Annual Congress in Derry over the weekend was probably one of the most significant in decades and certainly since the vote on whether or not to open the doors of Croke Park to hurling or football was taken but the ramifications were barely scratched at.

A positive from the show was the acquisition of former Kerry boss Jack O’Connor as a pundit, the straight-talking Kerryman is one of the keenest minds in the game.

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