Remember the good old days when all our summer sporting needs were satisfied by terrestrial television? The GAA, World Cup, Olympics etc. could be enjoyed/endured by tuning into our national broadcaster…the cross-channel transfer news could be also be found on Aertel page 220.
Ah, those were the days…you were even guaranteed to see someone hammer the Dubs!
Fast-forward to the advent of Sky and 24-hour rolling sports news and the summer has become a bit of a drag. Soccer fans (plastic supporters mostly) spend most of June and July on social media complaining about Sky’s fake transfer news while GAA matches are beamed across the world (supposedly), and salt of the earth supporters in this country are (at times) forced to make do with highlights on Sunday night.
The sale of broadcasting rights to Sky in 2014 indicated that the GAA was set to become everything it once detested about soccer. It would appear that grassroots players and supporters have since been unceremoniously brushed aside to make way for what headquarters hoped would be a slick, new package, and as a result everything now revolves around the uncompetitive Super 8s.
While RTÉ pundits seem to be making a habit of rambling monologues, it was difficult to disagree with Joe Brolly, Tomás Ó Sé and others last weekend as they criticised the decision which has subsequently meant that many are unable to enjoy classic games such as Donegal v Mayo.
The GAA is part of our national identity and the community is supposed to be part of its ethos, however in the last few years it seems as though the association is trying to shrug off its ‘Irishness’ in favour of something more ‘marketable’.
The evidence certainly suggests that those who follow Gaelic games are now – unofficially at least – viewed as customers rather than supporters by the GAA, and that is something that was sadly highlighted once again this week by the Dublin v Mayo ticket fiasco.