Saturday 24 August 2019

'I'm sure somebody, somewhere is making money' - Donegal boss Bonner not happy crunch Mayo clash is not on RTE

Declan Bonner. Photo: Sportsfile
Declan Bonner. Photo: Sportsfile

Chris McNulty

Donegal boss Declan Bonner says it's far from "ideal" that his side's crucial Super 8s clash with Mayo won't be broadcast on terrestrial television.

Donegal face Mayo in a winner-takes-all game at MacHale Park on Saturday with a place in an All-Ireland semi-final up for grabs.

The game will be shown exclusively on Sky Sports, meaning thousands of supporters won't get to view it..

"A match of that magnitude, you'd want to see on RTÉ, there's no doubt about that," said Bonner.

"I've been in visiting people in nursing homes and hospitals over the last couple of weeks and they don't have it on Sky.

"They'd like to see the game, but they don't have the option now. It's not ideal.

"There is a huge audience out there who will want to see the game on Saturday evening."

Recent figures suggest that the Donegal-Meath game on the opening weekend of the Super 8s was viewed by an average of just 1,000 people on Sky Sports in the UK.

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Bonner said: "The viewing figures aren't there, but I'm sure somebody, somewhere is making money out of it.

"That decision was made way above where I am. You'd like everyone to see it. It's been a bone of contention, but the GAA have signed a deal with Sky and that's not going away any time soon.

"This is a Sky game only. That's part of the deal and they won't let RTÉ in. We have a job to do in Castlebar and we don't concern ourselves too much with that."

In 2014, when the GAA came to an agreement on a deal with Sky, then director-general Páraic Duffy said the move would cater for GAA fans in the UK.

"At the top of the list was the need to make our games accessible to Irish people living abroad," Duffy said at the time.

Bonner also believes that there should be a break between games in the Super 8s and has questioned the scheduling of the All-Ireland semi-finals for the weekend of August 10/11, giving teams just one week to prepare.

He said: "These are amateur sportsmen playing at a high level and it takes time to recovery. A lot of them are back home late on a Sunday evening and go into work again on Monday morning.

"We need two weeks of a gap. For the winners on Saturday night, there is only seven days for a semi-final. Something needs to be looked at because they have to recharge again."

MacHale Park is expected to be sold out for Saturday's big game with the added spice of the presence of former Mayo manager Stephen Rochford - now Donegal's head coach - in the visiting dugout.

Bonner said: "We are under no illusions about what's ahead of us. It's a 50-50 game. We have to be at our best and get a performance."

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