After seven tumultuous days when everyone seemingly had an opinion about the GAA’s media rights namely their Sky Sports agreement, we make the same number of observations about the week that’s gone:
1. GAA stands for Gaelic Athletic Association, not Grab All Association. The twist on the acronym is jaded and not witty.
2. The bona fides of GAA director general Páraic Duffy and president Liam O’Neill are above and beyond reproach.
3. This column received a tweet on Sunday attacking Peter McKenna’s role in the GAA. The commercial and stadium director’s business acumen has played a major role in putting the organisation back in black.
4. When Duffy told Mike Moynihan of this parish in his GAAconomics book that the GAA “wouldn’t get away with selling the rights to the Championship to Sky Sports or somebody like that”, he meant all or the majority of Championship games. Take him at his word.
5. The line of questioning Duffy and O’Neill were subjected to on RTÉ last Tuesday was beyond reasonable. PrimeTime or not, the ill-informed shots at Duffy reeked of vested interests.
6. David McCullagh claims there aren’t many empty seats at All-Ireland quarter-finals. The last one that even came close to selling out was Dublin v Kerry in 2009.
7. And no, David, you can’t compare the Heineken Cup TV rights to those of the GAA Championship.
8. Part of Joe Duffy’s charm is his ability to play Devil’s Advocate. He well and truly sacrificed that role on Liveline last Wednesday and Thursday.
9. The GAA might be willing to forgive RTÉ’s reportage of the deal — but, as this newspaper has reported, they won’t forget.
10. On Sunday’s Marian Finucane Show, GAA member and playwright Fiona Looney said, as much as she didn’t care, she wasn’t consulted on the Sky Sports deal as well as the black card. Her Dublin club St Judes would have been asked to debate the black card.
11. Sky Sports’ role in the internationalisation of Gaelic games has yet to be explained properly. The Oireachtas meeting later this month will hopefully clarify that.
12. This column is all for the likes of an excellent leader like Duffy exerting more executive power but in this situation there should have been wider consultation.
13. It’s not certain the deal would have failed to receive support at Congress. Look at the black card last year.
14. That said, expect a motion or 12 about it on next year’s Clár. That is, if they haven’t been ruled out of order beforehand.
15. The GAA said they had a media partner in Channel 7 who could cater for them. Yet they also had one at home in RTÉ and they didn’t win the rights to show all 45 games.
16. Given ex-pats in the US and elsewhere must pay to see the matches, it’s incumbent on RTÉ and the GAA to keep their streaming subscription price as low as possible.
17. By hook or by crook, GAA supporters will see games. If that means watching illegal online streams then they will.
18. Paul Rouse and Mark Duncan have spoken a lot of sense. For the GAA’s sake, let’s hope their words don’t become a ‘told you so’.
19. Yes, had Sky Sports been involved last year, they could have very well shown the Kilkenny v Tipperary qualifier. Now there would have been a dilemma.
20. Yes, there is the potential for a Dublin v Kerry quarter-final ending up live on Sky Sports.
21. Memo to RTE Radio 1's The Late Debate — if you’re trying to recruit someone in the GAA to criticise the Sky agreement don’t ring Jarlath Burns in a week after he had supported it in a national newspaper.
22. Notice how so many inter-county players seemed on message in support of Sky Sports joining the stable?
23. Eh, Ray Darcy — it’s Eugene McGee and Martin Breheny, not Eugene Breheny.
24. How will Sky Sports deal with the GAA dictating throw-in times when they are the ones who take control of game starts?
25. Let’s be honest: Rachel Wyse is the ideal candidate to front their GAA coverage.
26. How many will transfer from TV3? Matt Cooper? Darragh Ó Sé? Peter Canavan? Mike Finnerty? All top operators.
27. Just how many more cameras will Sky have at the All-Ireland semi-finals and final than RTÉ? Or will there be, ahem, battle stations?
28. Was part of Sky Sports’ appeal to the GAA, their generally soft analysis? Last Tuesday O’Neill revealed his discomfort at times watching The Sunday Game.
29. RTÉ’s GAA coverage, generally superb, will only get better as a result of this new competition.
30. Sky Sports need people on the ground quickly but they probably have them at the ready.
31. They will appreciate they must have genuine pundits as much as recognisable faces for their UK viewership.
32. Their charm offensive with officials, managers and players will need to be extended to the grassroots. Good-will gestures would be welcomed.
32. No, Duffy and O’Neill don’t get it easier from GAA journalists although they are shown more respect than what was seen on RTÉ last week.
33. Might there have been a reason why RTÉ and TV3’s request for interviews with O’Neill were turned down at the Hall of Fame announcement last Wednesday?
34. Noel Quinn. Remember the name. He’s the GAA’s media rights manager.
35. For the six other months of the year that a lot of us care about GAA, we remain in the safe hands of TG4. Praise be.
36. Today FM’s Gift Grub last week was priceless.
37. You can bet it won’t be the last we hear of Mario Rosenstock satirising the new GAA-Sky relationship.
38. TV3’s statement last week was ill-advised. It won’t be forgotten.
39. Anyone else looking forward to Brian Cody’s interview on Sky Sports ahead of the Offaly game?
40. Yes, hands up: we also thought it was a real Sky Sports GAA Twitter account.
41. Can we ban ourselves from using the hackneyed phrase “thin end of the wedge”?
42. Can we all pronounce the word “Diaspora” the one way too? It’s die-as-pour-a.
43. Expect plenty of Sky Sports GAA ambassadors. For starters, we’re looking at you Messrs Brogan and Shefflin.
44. Message to Sky Sports: Dublin won last year’s All-Ireland senior football final, not Mayo.
45. And while we’re at it, Murdoch people: Clare wear saffron, not yellow. It’s the little things, you see.
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The GAA have been accused in some quarters of contravening or, at least, bending one of the core rules with the Sky Sports deal.
Part of rule 1.4 (d) reads: “The Association shall use all practical endeavours to support Irish industry.”
“Practical” may be the get-out word, but there is a much more obvious breach of the Official Guide by some county board officials currently busy campaigning for council seats in next month’s local elections.
Rule 1.11 states: “The Association shall be non-party political. Party political questions shall not be discussed at its meetings, and no committee, club, council or representative thereof shall take part, as such, in any party political movement. A penalty of up to 24 weeks suspension may be imposed for infringement”.
We have not yet heard of any bans being handed down but then we don’t expect to either. The GAA provides the perfect platform for a career in politics.