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GAA Go creating 'invisible barrier' for older fans, says Age Action
The GAA Go platform has come in for criticism as 38 games are exclusive to the streaming service this year.

CONCERNS HAVE BEEN expressed about the growing number of GAA matches that are now locked behind a paywall.

The decision not to air several high-profile matches on RTÉ, including Cork vs Tipperary in the Munster senior hurling championship last night, has proved controversial among GAA fans.

Advocacy group Age Action said a “digital-first” policy by the GAA organisation has resulted in an “invisible barrier” facing some county supporters, particularly older ones.

Almost 40 games for this season have moved onto a streaming platform run by the GAA called GAA Go, which requires a subscription to view the games. 

Games were traditionally shown on free-to-air television via RTÉ, but a portion have been shown on Sky in recent seasons.

The English broadcaster is no longer showing the games this year with the GAA itself stepping in to broadcast 38 games exclusively on its own streaming platform.

This has meant some high-profile matches have not been broadcast live on free-to-air television.

Age Action, which advocates for older people, said some supporters are being left out due to an “invisible barrier” created by a digital-first approach by organisations, as technological issues and the broadband connection become frustrations for customers.

The service requires a €78 subscription for all 38 matches or €12 to view a single game. Other subscription passes are available for GAA clubs and nursing homes.

Head of Advocacy and Public Affairs Celine Clarke said that although the GAA has done good work at creating age-friendly stadiums, their approach off the pitch leaves a lot to be desired.

“People experience digital exclusion because of lack of skills, lack of internet connection or affordability,” Clarke told RTÉ Radio One’s This Week programme.

“Unfortunately, older people are expressing great frustration at the push by private enterprises or organisations like banking or the GAA to move things to a digital first policy.

“Whether that’s the streaming services like GAA Go or cashless turnstiles, it really deepens the digital exclusion and therefore the social exclusion as well.” 

Age Action estimates that nearly 300,000 older people are not using the internet – among over-75s this is over half of the age group.

This means there is a danger of digital policies which “discriminates and excludes those not using the internet”, Clarke told the programme.

Clarke added that affordability is another problem, as a smart device is required for GAA Go, at a time when “we already know that older people are increasingly at risk of poverty” amid the cost-of-living crisis.

Retired Wexford hurler Tom Dempsey has also criticised the GAA Go model. He told Newstalk’s Off The Ball that it was not fair to older GAA fans, remarking: “I’m not patronising, because I’m heading in that direction myself.”

Dempsey said: “We’re trying to promote hurling … certainly internationally, it’s a small-populated sport.”

He said it was “absolutely crazy” that certain matches were not accessible to the public. “It’s horrendous marketing. People will say they can [use] GAA Go or whatever, but … these are the people who are paying for the club lotto, the county development draw.

“I don’t think it’s right. I’m really angry at depriving those people of the big games.”

Additional reporting by Emer Moreau

Written by Eoghan Dalton and posted on

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