Ulster Council chief backs cuts to ‘ridiculous’ TV coverage

ULSTER COUNCIL president Aodhan Ó Fearghaill applauded the decision to cut 10 live TV games from the schedule this year after what he described as the “ridiculous” level of coverage afford to the championships last year.

While 40 games will still be broadcast in the coming months, starting with Sunday’s Donegal v Antrim Ulster Championship clash in Ballybofey, Ó Fearghaill was happy with the reduction.

“It is right to have less games,” said Ó Fearghaill.

“Last year was a bit ridiculous. There were a few times we had three games on and you were switching from one channel to another. That was saturation coverage. The balance has now been struck and I would believe what we have at the moment is right.”

Another of those games to be televised is the Down v Armagh clash on Saturday, May 28 when it is scheduled to go up against the Champions League final between Manchester United and Barcelona at Wembley.

GAA president Christy Cooney has left it up to the parties involved to decide on whether to change the timing or not but no such request has been made by the counties thus far.

The leeway to change the Armagh v Down game has been limited by the fact that there is an Orange Order march arranged for the town earlier in the day so it remains to be seen how the game in London affects the footfall in Armagh.

“Some people tell me when there is an omnibus edition of Eastenders attendances are affected,” said Ó Fearghaill.

“Do attendances get affected by TV? Of course they do but can we react to everything on TV? I don’t think so.”

Meanwhile, Tyrone manager Mickey Harte does not believe his players are being targeted for special treatment in club games despite the horrific injuries suffered by Joe McMahon during an off-the-ball incident last month.

The All Star was left with a broken jaw and a number of broken teeth as a result of the incident which prompted an investigation by the county board and leaves him unavailable for the county’s championship opener against Monaghan.

“Because they’re quality players, they do attract more attention when they go back to club football. That’s an accepted norm, if you like,” he said.

“Referees and other people have to take a balanced view. They can’t be seen to be overcompensating, giving an inter-county player more than he should but equally they need to be careful that they don’t be too sore on them either.”

Harte will at least be able to call on the services of defender Philip Jordan who has committed to the cause after a spring of introspection. “He did need time to reflect and review,” said Harte.

“He had some second thoughts about it and, yes, he did need time to think about it. The encouragement of all those around him helped him make up his mind.

“That’s what teams are about. That’s what people who support each other are about. Our players, and everyone surrounding the Tyrone camp, helped Philip make a good choice.”


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