Keep your Sky, I’ll stick with Lys­ter and the lads

Bray People - - SPORT -

LOCK UP your chil­dren, bat­ten down the hatches, and pre­pare for im­pact as Sky shoul­ders its way into the mar­ket­place of the G.A.A.

Gone is the 'min­now' chal­lenge to the supremacy of R.T.E. by the Bal­ly­mount bri­gade of TV3 and now the much big­ger and much more heav­ily-fi­nanced squad from Sky are com­ing to wres­tle the T.V. ball from the arms of the na­tional broad­caster and solo off into the pay per view dis­tance.

Inches, nay me­tres, of col­umn space have been filled on this sub­ject over the past while since the some­what shock an­nounce­ment of the new deal.

Like most con­tentious sub­jects we seem to be a di­vided com­mu­nity on this one.

There's talk of 'sell­ing out', 'tak­ing the Queen's Shilling', 'be­tray­ing the grass­roots', 'tak­ing a ma­jor step to­wards pro­fes­sion­al­ism within the sport' and send­ing us all on a hellish road to sport­ing doom and de­struc­tion (I just made up the last part but that's the im­pres­sion you get from some quar­ters).

The other side of this pitched bat­tle will ar­gue that people in Aus­tralia can now watch games for free on Chan­nel 7, that people in Eng­land will have a bet­ter op­por­tu­nity to watch the games and for the pop­u­lar­ity of said games to im­prove greatly.

They'll say that the new deal will at­tract many more fans and play­ers to our na­tional games and boost the cof­fers of the or­gan­i­sa­tion which in turn should ben­e­fit the play­ers and clubs.

But, there has been plenty of re­search car­ried out that shows that go­ing down the pay per view road can have a very neg­a­tive im­pact on view­ing fig­ures so it will be in­cred­i­bly in­ter­est­ing to see how this all un­folds.

The one thought that strikes me though is that, for the very first time, G.A.A sup­port­ers, many of them hav­ing given freely and gen­er­ously of their time and ef­forts to clubs all over the coun­try, will now have to pay to watch a cer­tain num­ber of games. And that doesn't sit right with me.

I, like many oth­ers, have grown up hear­ing the mantra of the vol­un­teers, the dy­ing for the jersey, the pride in the club, the one fam­ily, the am­a­teurism, etc., etc., and now we have pay per view where those same people will have to pay to watch games.

And I know it's only 14 games this year as well as the All-Ire­land hurl­ing and foot­ball semi-fi­nals and fi­nals, but do you se­ri­ously ex­pect Sky to be happy to play sec­ond fid­dle to R.T.E for too long?

I imag­ine for them this is their way in and like any bullish, de­mand­ing, loud guest, the G.A.A. could find it very hard to get them to leave if things don't work out too well.

But, they're here now and I for one am ea­gerly await­ing their an­nounce­ment of their line-up, their pre­sen­ters, com­men­ta­tors, and pun­dits.

I don't have Sky my­self and don't in­tend on get­ting it any time soon but the neigh­bour might just see this writer's big head peer­ing in his sit­ting room win­dow come cham­pi­onship time this sum­mer (purely for rea­sons of re­search you un­der­stand).

It's times like these though that you find yourself con­sid­er­ing ex­actly what you have al­ready and I have asked my­self what it would be like if the R.T.E. cov­er­age was no more or if they were rel­e­gated to in­signif­i­cance by this new in­vader.

This year, Sky will broad­cast the All-Ire­land semi-fi­nals and fi­nals in hurl­ing and foot­ball along with R.T.E., and while the cu­ri­ous among us will sam­ple Ru­pert Mur­doch's All-Ire­land pack­age could we re­ally do with­out our sta­ple Septem­ber G.A.A. diet on which we have all been reared on?

Al­low me to ex­pand on what we might lose.

Michael Lys­ter

Mr. Smooth him­self, al­though the years are pass­ing by fairly lively for the Gal­we­gian.

Would All-Ire­land fi­nal day be the same with­out this friendly un­cle-type fig­ure tak­ing charge of his three rowdy house guests?

Could us G.A.A. fans sur­vive with­out his dul­cet tones? I'm not so sure.

Pat Spil­lane

The world needs whingers doesn't it? No, I don't think it does ac­tu­ally and while I en­joy watch­ing the Kerry leg­end squirm in his seat and lament about the ter­ri­ble stan­dards of the mod­ern game, the loss of Spil­lane might be just about bear­able for us out here in Telly Land.

Joe Brolly

The world needs rene­gades. The world needs mav­er­icks who rally and fight against the wrongs and ills of the sys­tem. The world needs Brolly.

Love him or hate him he tends to make for com­pelling view­ing and more of­ten than not he makes valid points. His pas­sion is un­de­ni­able and I for one would miss him if the world as we know it ends in the years to come.

Colm O'Rourke

Ah, the lofty Meath man, a trou­bled-look­ing soul most of the time, he bears a wor­ried look about him but a G.A.A. man to the core and his play­ing record speaks for it­self.

He's a good pres­ence to have in the mid­dle of the other two char­ac­ters and again, would be missed I be­lieve.

Des Cahill

The ‘Sun­day Game’ on Sun­day night, where would we be with­out it? And where would we be with­out the whole­some­ness of Cahill, that beam­ing smile, the cherub-like pres­ence on the big chair as he kindly guides his guests through the ac­tion from the weekend.

Des is like that pop­u­lar guy in ev­ery club, al­ways happy, al­ways smil­ing, al­ways de­lighted with his place in the world. God bless him and his hap­pi­ness.

Marty Mor­ris­sey

No, I refuse to imag­ine a world with­out Marty. No. Ru­pert can go take a run and jump for all I care; he's not tak­ing Marty away from me.

Ger Can­ning

As much as I give out about him he's sort of like the Par­ish Priest isn't he? He's part of the fur­ni­ture and Sun­day af­ter­noon would be a poorer place with­out him.

Yeah, I think we would be a sad bunch with­out these icons of G.A.A. cov­er­age. When TV3 came onto the scene we imag­ined we'd be tit­il­lated and thrilled by a new breed of com­men­ta­tor and pre­sen­ter but, aside from the ex­cel­lent pun­dits, they didn't re­ally win us over at all. Matt Cooper is an ex­cel­lent cur­rent af­fairs jour­nal­ist but, for me, he didn't cap­ture the essence of the G.A.A. cov­er­age. Or maybe I'm just brain­washed.

Any­way, as I say, Sky are here now. Our world has changed from what it once was. But, our world is al­ways chang­ing and we must adapt. And if I could of­fer Sky one piece of ad­vice, just one, it's this - don't hire Hec­tor. Please!

Ger Lough­nane (right) and Martin McHugh (left) with pre­sen­ter of the ‘Sun­day Game’ Michael Lys­ter. Can we sur­vive with­out these guys?

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