TV cuts to have little effect on GAA coffers
The GAA are shedding 20pc of their live TV championship games over the next three years -- but the total financial haul from the distribution of media rights over that period of time will experience only a marginal fall.
The realigning of packages gives TV3 a higher profile set of games, but RTE's loss of nine games reduces the number of live matches they show to 31. Prior to the last deal being negotiated, the number of live games shown -- all on the national broadcaster -- was 36.
Figures for the new deals are not made known because they are deemed to be commercially sensitive, but the GAA's commercial director Dermot Power confirmed yesterday that there had been a small drop, with estimates at around €2m. "We got what we feel was a fair price and there is no big deal about it," said Power.
The GAA took in €10.6m in media rights in 2009 and €9.3m in the 2008 financial year, which incorporated the first championship of the existing deals which end after the 2011 leagues.
The TV deals were put together in five different packages for purchase with RTE taking packages five, four and three which incorporate six, eight and eight games respectively.
TV3 have taken package two, which gives them All-Ireland quarter-finals for the first time and the All-Ireland minor finals -- which could create the unusual situation, whereby there are three live broadcasters at Croke Park on All-Ireland final day all seeking studio space from the ground. The GAA were keen to have both partners involved right up to to the end of the championship.
A document for the international rights is currently being prepared and the BBC -- which has been permitted to show the last two All-Ireland finals live to cater for northern viewers who don't have RTE -- will soon be in talks with the GAA.
Meanwhile, former Galway hurler Anthony Cunningham has been retained as manager of the county's U-21 side for a further two seasons.
Cunningham -- a former All-Ireland winning minor and U-21 captain -- beat off the challenge of Portumna pair Johnny Kelly and Jimmy Heverin who had both opted to let their names go forward.
At the end of the first count, Cunningham had 25 votes, Kelly had 16 and Heverin received 10. In the second count, the St Thomas clubman was re-elected by 27-24.
Cunningham is also manager of the Garrycastle football team from Westmeath, who will face Kilmacud Crokes in Sunday week's Leinster SFC semi-final and he was thrilled to get re-elected after his side sustained such a heavy defeat to Tipperary in the U-21 final in September.
"We will be starting straight away getting ready for next year," said Cunningham, who will be again joined by former Clare hurler Pat O'Connor and Athenry midfielder Brian Hanley as selectors.
Galway's All Star hurler Damian Hayes could miss the start of Galway's NFL campaign next February after having cartilage surgery on both knees.
The Portumna star required painkillers throughout most of the season just to play in games, but it didn't unduly affect a high-level of performance.
Portumna's defeat last month in the Galway SHC semi-final -- having reached the All-Ireland club final three years in a row -- prompted Hayes to avail of the winter break to get the necessary work carried out on his knees.
"It was something that I needed to get done. Anyone who knows me, is well aware of the problems I had all year. It was constant painkillers and physio to even get out on the pitch, so hopefully this will set me right. It's very sore now and I'll be on the crutches for a while," he said.
"For all the games -- Offaly, Kilkenny and Tipperary -- I gave plenty of money to physiotherapists around the place to just get out playing. My right knee was causing a lot of trouble. There was a cyst developing on the kneecap with the abuse it was getting."
Hayes hopes to be back in action next February or March, when Galway are in the midst of defending their league crown.
Elsewhere, two of our young hopefuls Down Under have received good news from their AFL clubs with Longford's Michael Quinn and Jamie O'Reilly from Down being officially included on the senior lists of their clubs.
Quinn has completed his two-year rookie contract at Essendon and has already finished his first season in the AFL. O'Reilly played the last three games for Richmond this season and has his sights set on becoming a Tigers' regular in the coming season.
Down boss James McCartan has insisted he won't be holding any training sessions during his squad's upcoming trip to New York. The Mournemen travel to the Big Apple for a holiday and will take in a game against New York but McCartan says there won't be any collective training.