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Tony Kelly of Clare celebrates a goal during their Munster Senior Hurling Championship semi-final at LIT Gaelic Grounds. Photograph by John Kelly

Frustration for Clare fans as match again confined to Sky

WITH restrictions on crowds attending and the streaming option unavailable, it’ll be Sky Sports or nothing for most Clare people who want to see the Banner taking on Wexford on Saturday.
There would have been some disappointment among hurling followers that Clare had drawn Wexford instead of Laois on Monday, while many supporters are tired of the subplot involving the two managers, which has been written about and discussed for years at this stage.
However, all that aside, there was yet more annoyance when the time of the game was announced as being 1.30pm on a Saturday, a busy working day for many people, and the match only available on Sky Sports to boot.
Signing up for Sky Sports is relatively expensive for many people, and this is particularly true for those whose primary interest is in the GAA, not sports such as soccer, rugby, golf and boxing which it shows much more of.
Because of the way Sky bills its customers and rewards people with introductory offers before prices rise, it is very hard to give a straightforward price, but going by its website this week anyone signing up for a basic Sky package with sports could get it for €38 a month for six months. This is marketed as a half price sale.
The Clare-Wexford game cannot be watched on GAAGo in Ireland, but the Laois Waterford one is available for €8, while €25 will buy you the remaining five exclusive games that GAAGo will stream.
On Tuesday Clare TD Michael McNamara criticised the fact that the game is only available to view on Sky.
“This issue is a source of great frustration to most people in Clare and throughout the country as they rightly believe that our national game should be free to air for everyone to enjoy.
“I believe the GAA’s decision to agree a contract with Sky in 2014 was wrong then and I believe it would be wrong now to renew this contract beyond 2021.”
Many people will miss out this week, he said, and he blamed the fact the game is on Sky for it being played early on a Saturday afternoon, saying the 1.30pm throw in time “is ultimately dictated by the broadcaster”.
He said that the Government has provided the GAA with funding to deal with the pandemic due to the important role it plays in Irish life, and the Clare TD said the State should ask it to reflect on its position in society prior to striking a future deal.
While he said it was impossible for the GAA to be ready for a situation like what has arisen with the thousands of Clare people who would attend on Saturday not being able to attend, he said lessons can be learned from it.
“Goodwill is also hugely important and the GAA should reflect on that. The GAA couldn’t possibly have foreseen what has happened, but we now know what we know and they should reflect on that and make sure they retain that goodwill.”
Fianna Fáil County Councillor Pat O’Gorman has been heavily involved with his club Cratloe over the years and writing on social media, he criticised the fact the game is on Sky.
“Bitterly disappointed that we cannot see our hurlers in action on our national station. Being held to ransom by the powers that be, and the real grassroots supporters have to suffer. It seems that it’s all about the money.”

About Owen Ryan

Owen Ryan has been a journalist with the Clare Champion since 2007, having previously worked for a number of other regional titles in Limerick, Galway and Cork.