Limerick councillors urge GAA to reconsider Sky Sports deal

GAA president Aogán Ó Fearghaíl

Public representatives in Limerick have backed a motion urging the GAA to reconsider a deal where Sky Sports secured exclusive rights to championship matches.

Both of Limerick’s senior hurling games, this summer, were only available on the paid-television broadcaster.

Although GAA president Aogán Ó Fearghaíl has insisted the association will honour its contract with Sky until 2021, councillors said they will ask the GAA to revisit the matter.

They are planning to seek talks with GAA headquarters by mid-August.

Cllr Liam Galvin said RTÉ, TV3 and TG4 should also be allowed to screen fixtures which are only carried by Sky.

“Denying households who do not subscribe to Sky TV the right to view our national games is a travesty,” the Fine Gael councillor said.

“I am bringing this motion because of my love for the GAA and football.

“Lots of people do not have Sky, and will not see their local side playing. I have no issue with Sky television showing games.

“What I am asking here is that opportunity is given to free-to-air networks to also show games,” the former mayor said.

However, Metropolitan district mayor Sean Lynch, father to rising star hurler Cian Lynch, 21, said he believed the GAA’s founder Michael Cusack would approve of Sky’s efforts to promote the two codes around the world.

“Michael Cusack was a great Irish scholar, he promoted the Irish language, promoted sport, hurling and Gaelic football. He was saying these are distinctive games, this is our national identity. He wanted to promote it worldwide. That was his vision back then. This is exactly what Sky Sports are doing,” said Cllr Lynch.

“Bringing the games right across the world to our diaspora. Linking them with their homes and their communities.”

He also pointed out the cost of a Sky subscription over the summer pales into comparison with the price of travel to games, and the other costs involved.

But Cllr Séighin Ó Ceallaigh (SF) said: “It is absolutely disgraceful that we can watch Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Real Madrid in the Champions League on Irish television, yet we cannot watch Limerick GAA on RTÉ.

“We need to take this in hand before we see a full sell-off of our national sport to foreign TV firms.”

Cllr Gerald Mitchell said three pubs in his home village of Hospital, Co Limerick had to cancel their deals while Cllr Daniel Butler added: “This is our national sport. It’s part of the fibre of who we are. Everyone should have access to it. At the moment, we are restricting access to a large section of society. We should not be given responsibility to sell part of our culture to Sky Sports, and depriving people in the process.”


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