24 April 2022
By Elaine Murphy
The GAA must do all it can to ensure the upcoming Cork/Kerry Munster senior football championship semi-final will be accessible for all to view on TV, a Fine Gael Senator has said.
The long running saga over where the May 7th fixture will be played is almost resolved with both county’s happy to play the game at the 11,000 capacity Páirc Uí Rinn in Cork city.
With the larger Páirc Uí Chaoimh stadium booked for Ed Sheeran concerts, Senator Tim Lombard has said many who would have liked to attend the game will be unable to do so as ticket demand exceeds supply. The Munster Council has yet to rubber stamp the Páirc Uí Rinn venue for the game but a decision is expected soon.
“It is a once off issue. Had the larger venue being available, you could have 20,000 going to watch the game in the flesh. However, thousands now won’t be able to attend and the only place to view it is Sky Sports,” Senator Lombard said.
“I fully understand the arrangement between the GAA and Sky was finalised months ago but I am appealing for a once off decision here for this year that will garner goodwill for all involved from GAA fans.
“Had Páirc Uí Chaoimh been available for the match, people could decide to attend or watch it on Sky. They would have a choice, but they simply do not now as the smaller venue can’t hold more than 11,000 and not all can avail of Sky Sports.
“Let the game be broadcast on free to air television so all can see it,” Senator Lombard said.
Senator Lombard pointed out that current GAA broadcast rights agreement, worth €14.5m per annum, ends this year. Streaming giant, Amazon, could come into the picture as regards future potential broadcasting deals.
“I urge the GAA to work closely with the Government to ensure our national sports remain accessible to all. Greater access to coverage of games is essential.
“The GAA serves as one of the country’s most significant cultural and social institutions, and given this significance, the organisation must do everything it can to ensure access to the games for all fans. By putting noteworthy games such as Cork vs Kerry that traditionally get large viewership numbers, on a pay-per-view service, it prevents many people within society, particularly those who are in nursing and care homes, and those with lower incomes, from access to the sport they love.
“If the GAA seeks to be an organisation that is committed to being community based and open to all then it must introduce a broadcasting rights policy for 2023 and beyond that is reflective of those aims.”
Senator Lombard said GAA fans within Cork are particularly affected as both Cork hurling and football games get significant viewership numbers. In 2021 the All-Ireland Hurling Final between Cork and Limerick was the 9th most watched programme on RTÉ with 774,000 viewers.
“I am calling on the GAA and the Committee on Tourism, Culture, Arts, Sport and Media to seriously collaborate on the matter to assess the feasibility of showing significant matches like Cork vs Kerry on free-to-air television and I will be following up on this with the relevant departments to further engage,” Senator Lombard concluded.