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GAA chiefs ignore Clare plea to sever ties with Sky Sports

Banner County had called for an end to links with broadcasting giants.

Image: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

GAA CHIEFS HAVE rejected a motion from Clare that sought to prevent the award of any exclusive coverage of championship matches to Sky Sports in the next media rights contract.

The GAA struck a deal last year with Sky to broadcast a host of championship games over an initial three-year period, with new packages up for grabs in 2017.

That partnership began with the Leinster SHC clash between Kilkenny and Offaly in 2014 but disappointing viewing figures across the season prompted calls to review the arrangement, with Donegal officials among those to express opposition last year.

Rachel Wyse, Ollie Canning, Brian Carney and Peter Canavan Sky's first game was last year's Leinster SHC clash between Offaly and Kilkenny. Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

It has now emerged that the GAA’s Central Council met last Saturday to discuss a number of issues arising from the Hurling 2020 review committee report, along with a number of annual Congress items that were referred to the powerful decision-making body.

The Sky deal was chief among them and the GAA has decided to ignore an appeal from Clare to sever ties with the big new player in the market.

Sky have vowed to ramp up their championship coverage in 2015 and they recently announced the signings of former Donegal football boss Jim McGuinness and ex-Kilkenny hurler JJ Delaney as analysts.

JJ Delaney celebrates at the end of the game JJ Delaney is a new hurling analyst for Sky Sports this summer. Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

Sky will screen 20 live matches from the GAA Football and Hurling championships this summer, starting with the Leinster SFC quarter-final between Kildare and Laois on 6 June.

It is estimated that over 2 million people tuned into Sky’s 2014 GAA coverage.

GAA top brass are also anxious to proceed with the appointment of a new Director of Hurling, and to work “as a matter of urgency” to standardise the sliotar.

General view of a sliotar GAA chiefs hope to have a standarised sliotar in place for next year. Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

One of the GAA’s main concerns is the disparity in the size and shape of the ball and it is hoped that a proposal will be in place for the start of the 2016 season.

The current sliotar industry remains largely unregulated.

The weekend’s Central Council meeting also turned down a proposal to issue squad numbers to players on various intercounty teams. 

And it has been announced that the 2016 World Games will be played in Ireland from 7-14 August.

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Jackie Cahill

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