DCU players back Sky GAA deal

A College View poll has found that 78 per cent of DCU GAA players think the GAA’s recently signed deal with Sky Sports is good for gaelic games.

The poll was conducted through Facebook, and asked men and women playing GAA sports for various DCU teams the question – is the Sky Sports deal good for the GAA?

Almost four fifths of those questioned are in favour of the deal, with Dublin natives more likely to support Sky’s involvement than those hailing from outside of the capital.

The deal will see Sky Sports cover 20 All-Ireland Championship games throughout the summer, 14 of which will be exclusive to Sky.

All of the games will be covered live by Sky Sports 3, and there will be a midweek highlights package each week reviewing the action. The majority of games covered will be Saturday evening qualifiers.

The controversial three-year agreement sees Sky take over from TV3 as the secondary rights holder for the All-Ireland championship, while RTÉ remains primary rights holder in Ireland.

RTÉ will cover 31 games, with 25 of these being exclusive to RTÉ. The six games shared between RTÉ and Sky will be the All-Ireland semi-finals and finals in both hurling and football.

Premier Sports holds the UK rights to games not covered by Sky, and this is also a monthly subscription channel.

The deal has been lauded by some as a way of spreading the GAA gospel but criticised by others as selling out to a huge multinational by making people pay to watch.

In order to see the 14 exclusive games, including two All-Ireland football quarter-finals, those who want to watch at home will have to pay €64 per month to subscribe to Sky Sports.

Among the most vocal of critics has been RTÉ Sunday Game panellist and former Derry footballer Joe Brolly, who has taken to Twitter to voice his concern.

Brolly argues that the GAA are “paying lip service to the diaspora” and claims that the “GAA’s purpose is to rally against capitalism.”

Monaghan midfielder Dick Clerkin and Kerry forward Darran O’Sullivan took to twitter to back the deal with O’Sullivan humorously tweeting, “Sky made a top sport out of darts and that’s two fellas standing on a stage.”

After an RTÉ Prime Time debate on the issue, GAA President Liam O’Neill criticised the broadcaster saying, “we are shocked by the treatment we got from RTÉ. Every single one of the interviews was aggressive.”

It is unclear yet as to who will make up the Sky GAA broadcasting team, although Paddy Power have priced Kevin Moran at 6/5 to become a football pundit and priced Nicky English at 6/4 to take a position as hurling expert.

Hull City and Ireland striker Shane Long is priced at 6/4 to join Sky’s team as a hurling analyst. The Tipperary native played inter-county minor hurling before moving across the water as a professional soccer player.

All of the 45 games will also be shown on Australia’s Channel 7, which is a terrestrial free-to-air channel.

W2 Sports Consultancy, owned by former rugby international Keith Wood, estimates that the deal will bring 8,000 extra tourists to Ireland annually to watch live GAA.

Despite the deal, there has been little pressure on the GAA to increase the grant paid to players of county teams that reach the Championship final four. This grant is currently €500 per player.

Kevin Taylor

Image Credit: Sportsfile

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