With yesterday evening’s U21 Leinster game out of the way, work will step up a gear ahead of their broadcasting of the senior quarter-final between Kilkenny and Offaly.
Sky’s main cameras will be stationed over the roofless Old Stand which was damaged in a storm earlier this year. RTÉ and TG4’s cameras are usually positioned over the Grace Stand but Sky are keen to ensure they present the game as best they can.
The scaffolding will be taken down after the game, with work on the new roof expected to begin shortly.
A temporary studio has already been created in the terrace corner between the Grace and Ted Carroll Stand, close to where the players emerge from their dressing rooms.
However, there are many concerns throughout the county that the strong prospect of a heavy Kilkenny victory may well put off people from attending the game.
The Leinster Council have strangely encouraged supporters to “be there in Nowlan Park for Sky’s first ever GAA broadcast”.
The caption at the end of the segment described Saturday’s Leinster SHC fixture as a “Connacht GAA football” game.
Presenter John Davies also asked whether a black card would be shown in Nowlan Park, despite the rule not being a part of hurling. It followed a number of mispronunciations by Sky Sports presenters of Connacht and Cillian O’Connor following last month’s Mayo-New York game, as well as Mayo being described as the All-Ireland champions.
Davies interviewed former Ireland rugby international Brian Carney who will co-anchor Sky Sports’ GAA coverage with Rachel Wyse.
Clearly directing his words at the station’s primarily British audience, Cork-born Carney said: “I’ve been privileged enough to play two professional sports and be introduced and being able to watch professional sportsmen from other sports codes up close.
“I’ll go on record as saying I haven’t come across a more skilful bunch of people than hurlers. I’m in awe of what they can do.
“I’ll challenge people to tune in on Saturday night and not be impressed by the abilities of these people, not just athletically but what they can do with the ball and with their hurl as well. They’re phenomenal athletes. It’s a must-see.
“The game is thousands of years old, it’s written in Irish folklore. It was that violent that in Kilkenny, of all places, about 8,000 years ago they were trying to have it banned with coming up with such injuries. Thankfully, they didn’t and Kilkenny subsequently have gone onto become one of the powerhouses.
“It is a fantastic game, really. It’s easy enough to follow — I hope,” he laughed. “People will follow it relatively easily but it’s a very entertaining game.”
Carney was asked to compare Brian Cody to another manager. “The obvious comparison would be with Alex Ferguson. You’ve got bear in mind that in Ireland, you play the cards you’re dealt with. He’s in charge of county Kilkenny — the only players he can have access to are county players. You can’t buy anybody in the transfer market.
“He’s won nine of the last 14 All-Irelands, which is a phenomenal record. He’s gone to be the most successful hurling manager of all time. Coincidentally, the last time they lost was in 1998.
“That was the last time Offaly, who they play on the weekend, won an All-Ireland final.
“The Offaly man of the match that day is now their manager, Brian Whelahan. He’s had some tough times. They haven’t beaten Kilkenny in nine championship meetings since. They are up against it.
“But the latest news out of the Kilkenny camp is that they have some injuries to some key players. No doubt they have enthusiastic youngsters coming through but some of the key players will be injured and missing so that might drag Kilkenny back to Offaly a little.”
Sky Sports are shortly expected to announce a 30% discount for clubs who take up subscriptions with them. Clubs with less than 1,000 members can avail of the deal for just over €275 a month with larger clubs being asked to pay just shy of €400 per month.