CORK legend Donal Óg Cusack echoed the feelings of many hurling supporters when hitting out at the GAA and RTÉ for allowing high-profile games like Cork-Tipp go to pay-per-view.
The old rivals served up a Saturday night cracker in Páirc Uí Chaoimh but instead of featuring in the prime-time free-to-air slot, it was shown on GAAGO. The streaming service already had the rights to Tipp's eight-goal thriller with Clare and the Banner's shock win over Limerick while this Saturday's Waterford-Clare tie is also on GAAGO.
“Hurling needs oxygen,” Cusack said on. “I have no issue with pay-per-view, that’s part of the landscape and it has its role to play.
“But by next weekend when Clare play Waterford, four of the biggest Munster championship games will have been on pay-per-view. The GAA have introduced this microwave hurling championship, this compressed season, where there’s 11 weekends of hurling. I would say three or four of those now, you’re not going to have any games on free-to-air and you have to ask – who is accountable for the promotion of hurling? Because whoever it is is not doing a good job.
“How many Munster championship games in football compared to hurling have they shown? It looks very like that they’re using hurling to get this joint venture off the ground, whereas it should be the other way around.
“There’s loads hundreds, thousands of brilliant, brilliant volunteers who are trying to grow hurling. As I said at the outset, it needs oxygen. There’s no better oxygen that you can get in the game than the imagery coming out of the likes of Tipp and Clare, from a full Ennis - that being beamed into every house in Ireland. The Clare and Limerick game, the power of that.
“My nephew can name all of Liverpool squad. I don’t think the young fella was ever in Liverpool. Why is that? The opportunity we’ve lost over the last number of weeks to market the game has been huge.”
Impassioned debate on the broadcasting of hurling. #SundayGame. pic.twitter.com/eKL6O0zKte— The Sunday Game (@TheSundayGame) May 7, 2023
To compound matters, RTÉ didn't run ahighlights programme either in recent weeks, which they are entitled to under the new broadcasting terms which came in after the Sky Sports deal ended.
The Cloyne club man on duty alongside Kilkenny's Jackie Tyrell and speaking with Ballinhassig native and presenter Jacqui Hurley, also bemoaned the time of the games and the national broadcaster's excessive coverage of rugby.
“These are facts. Last year we had an All-Ireland quarter-final [Galway's win over Cork] played at lunchtime. The next day there was a Tailteann Cup game on Croke Park.
“I came in downstairs here and was looking at the screen and I thought something looked strange about Croke Park. The cameras were on the other side of the field. Now I can only assume those cameras were put on the other side of the field so that the crowd would look bigger.
“Someone had the back of Gaelic football.
“And the last point I’ll make. I sat over there and the head of sport in RTÉ was here, you were here. And I said that given what was coming - that was a number of months ago - given what was coming with the coverage of the games in this country and on this station, we should put a rugby ball up in the corner of the screen up there.
“And, I’m very proud of the Irish rugby team and their credit to the country and we all hope they win the World Cup, but in terms of being a competitive space, the GAA have waved the white flag, because we’ve now given over 2023 to rugby country.”