McDonagh was reacting to the news the county’s motion calling for that will not be on the Clár of Congress later this month. The proposal will be discussed by Central Council but won’t be debated or voted on in Cavan on February 28 as the rules advisory committee deemed it does not amend a rule nor enact one. Clonard, Éire Óg and Scariff had put forward three separate motions but, in the end, they backed Éire Óg’s recommendation. The clubs did not object to Sky Sports but their exclusive live rights to 14 Championship matches per year as part of the current media rights agreement. They suggested in the next round of media rights in 2017 that if Sky are to remain in the GAA’s stable of broadcasters they share their games with a free-to-air provider.
Offaly, Donegal as well as several other Ulster counties were prepared to support the motion before the decision was taken to cut it from the Clár.
Describing it as “a shame“, McDonagh said: “A number of Clare clubs put forward this motion at convention and the understanding was that it would be discussed at Congress.
“I believe it’s the place to discuss such a motion and whether it’s successful or not at least it showed the ordinary member of the GAA could get his point across through their clubs or county boards. I know a number of other counties wanted it discussed. It’s a shame that it won’t be discussed in full because I firmly believe that all our games should be free-to-air.
“I don’t think anybody should have to pay to see our Championship games. I don’t think that’s what our Association is about. It’s an amateur organisation with an amateur ethos.
“It will come again next year and I believe if it’s put before the membership it would be passed because the ordinary GAA man and woman wants the games on terrestrial television.”
Scariff secretary Michael Moroney expressed disappointment the motion won’t get an airing at Congress. “Nobody voiced any objection to it at annual convention. We had no problem with Sky Sports having mutual broadcasting rights but we had an issue with their right to exclusive coverage of any Championship game. Nobody should be excluded from watching a Championship game because of cost implications. We shouldn’t exclude those in the grassroots who put in so much but mightn’t have the money or push young people who don’t have access to terrestrial TV towards pubs to watch games.”
The GAA at central level stated there will be “no reduction in the number of live Championship games shown free to air”. However, Sky’s latest £5.1bn deal for Premier League rights is sure to have a knock-on effect for customers who subscribed to GAA Championship games.
After the last such agreement in June 2012, the cost of Sky packages increased in early 2013.