Micheál Martin: GAA games 'should be free to air'

Speaking in Cork, Mr Martin said that his "personal view" for a "long, long time" has been that fans shouldn't be subjected to extra charges to watch GAA matches online

Tánaiste and avid sports fan Micheál Martin has said that all GAA matches should be free to air amid criticism of the GAAGO app which charges fans for watching some games online.

Speaking in Cork, Mr Martin said that his "personal view" for a "long, long time" has been that fans shouldn't be subjected to extra charges to watch GAA matches online.

"We want more and more people to see hurling being played like it was on Saturday with Cork and Tipp and last week with Clare and Limerick – it’s something that should be reviewed.

"I think the games should be free to air …. and it’s the game of hurling that has lost the most because the game of hurling at its best is simply a classic and irrespective of one’s preference for any one code or sport, everyone loves to watch a great game of hurling.

"We’ve had two classics now in terms of the Clare Limerick game last weekend and the Cork Tipp game on Saturday evening and it just seems that a significant audience did not get access to those games to see hurling at its best."

Mr Martin said last Saturday night in Páirc Ui Chaomh was a magical occasion.

"It was just one of those occasions, sun drenched, beautiful new stadium and a great game of hurling between Cork and Tipp – certainly our senior citizens need to be able to watch these games.

“I think hurling would benefit because if we want to continue to brand hurling as one of the great iconic identifiers of Ireland, one of the great games played at a very high quality, we want more people to see it and I think it’s (GAAGO app payments) something that should be reviewed for the benefit of hurling."

Meanwhile, GAAGO charges €12 per game, three matches cost €24 or €79 for access to streamed games over the course of the season.

Age Action Policy Specialist, Nat O'Connor told Newstalk Breakfast, earlier today that GAAGO has created an "invisible barrier" for older GAA fans who can't afford the streaming service or are without internet access.

"It's an invisible barrier that people don't have the technology or the wherewithal to access these games online and it is not a small issue."

However, Former GAA President Liam O'Neill told the show that GAAGO actually brings a wider audience to GAA rather than excluding fans.

"There are 15 games next Saturday – with all due respect, no channel can show all those,” he said.

GAAGO is a means through which you can watch some games – not all games, but some games will be able to shown next Saturday."

Mr O'Neill said that the GAA is probably one of the most inclusive organisations in the world.

"The GAAGO is far from being exclusive. It is inclusive. It was set up at the time we did the Sky Deal and it was for people who lived abroad. It was only accessible to people who lived abroad and the complaint at that time was that it wasn't accessible to people in Ireland.

Then when the Pandemic came GAAGO was a means by which a huge number of extra games were made available to people who couldn't have gotten to see them because they couldn't get out. "

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