DUBLIN and Ulster are the big winners in the programme of Allianz National Football League games to be screened by Setanta on Saturday nights over the next few months, writes Martin Breheny.
However, the schedule will not be well received in the many counties who find themselves either completely off the schedule or having just one game covered.
Down fare best of all, with five of their seven games to be screened live, followed by Dublin on four. Armagh, Cork, Tyrone and Donegal can look forward to two each.
Kerry, Mayo Derry, Monaghan and Antrim each have one live NFL game, while Galway are the only Division 1 team who won’t feature; nor will their hurlers, as Setanta’s two scheduled games feature Tipperary against Kilkenny and Waterford respectively.
Setanta CEO Colin Morgan said that they drew up their live schedule on the basis of the games fixed for Saturday nights by the GAA.
“We’re keen to show as many counties as possible, but we have to work with the games which are fixed for Saturday nights,” he said.
That raises questions about the spread of fixtures between Saturday nights and Sunday afternoons as it seems quite extraordinary that of the 11 live football games, five involve Down, five are all-Ulster games and three are from Division 2.
Galway will be especially disappointed not to feature on either the hurling or football schedule. There will also be annoyance in Kildare, Meath, Laois and Sligo, none of whom will feature, whereas the four other Division 2 teams – all from Ulster – are covered at least once.
The Saturday night schedule (Setanta Ireland and Setanta 1) is as follows:
Feb5–NFL: Armagh v Dublin; Mayo v Down.
Feb12–NHL: Tipperary v Kilkenny.
Feb19–NFL: Dublin v Cork; Tyrone v Donegal.
Feb26–NFL: Dublin v Kerry; Down v Armagh.
Mar5–NHL:Tipperary v Waterford.
Mar12–NFL: Cork v Down; Tyrone v Antrim.
Mar19–NFL:Down v Monaghan; Derry v Donegal.
Apr2–NFL: Dublin v Down.