championship season

'Just the beginning' - GAAGO commence new era of coverage for Irish audience

The online streaming platform will be showing six live games this weekend.

GAAGO WILL DELIVER its first major coverage of games in the 2023 championships this weekend, but unlike previous seasons, the broadcasts will be available to Irish viewers as well as the GAA diaspora.

michael-murphy-marc-ose-grainne-mcelwain-and-seamus-hickey GAAGO's championship coverage gets underway this weekend. Ryan Byrne / INPHO Ryan Byrne / INPHO / INPHO

The streaming service announced at the end of last year that it would be entering the domestic market for the 2023 campaign, thereby expanding on its current package for fans who are based internationally. Stepping in to occupy the space left by Sky Sports following the end of its partnership with the GAA last year, GAAGO got off the mark with its coverage of New York’s incredible win over Leitrim recently.

This weekend, former Sky Sports host Gráinne McElwain will anchor the coverage for GAAGO and will be joined by a cast of high-profile analysts.

Commentators Dave McIntyre and Mike Finnerty will be among those calling the play this season, while reporter Aisling O’Reilly will provide insights and updates from both inside and outside match venues. Liam Aherne, Marcus Ó Buachalla and Donn O’Sullivan will also be on commentary duty throughout the season, and Clara Hester joins the reporting team.

Their coverage will begin with six games across the hurling and football championships this weekend. Three of the games will consist of full live coverage as well as studio analysis, while the other three will be delivered in a match-only format. 

The games which will receive live and studio focus this weekend will be the clash of Cavan and Armagh in the Ulster SFC, as well as the meeting of Galway and Wexford in the Leinster SHC, and Clare v Tipperary in the Munster SHC.

Noel Quinn, who is head of marketing and broadcast for the GAA, explains the evolution of GAAGO from its inception in 2014 to its venture into the domestic space 10 years later.

“This is our 10th birthday,” he tells The 42. “What GAAGO are now doing is probably an acknowledgement of what happens internationally with big professional sports bodies, franchises and teams. It aligns with the modern viewing and consumption habits of people who want to watch on the go, on their phone or on a tablet.

“They want access to more live games, and they want a different type of production and presentation as well. That’s where viewers can expect something that’s a little bit different from ourselves. In terms of style, tone and presentation, GAAGO probably throws itself into the matchday experience a little more to kind of break down the fourth wall. The talent of the pundits will help with that.”

Expanding further on what Irish viewers can expect from GAAGO’s offering on their opening weekend, Quinn says that former Cork dual star Eoin Cadogan will form part of the analysis for the hurling coverage. He will be joined by Kilkenny legend Tommy Walsh and retired Limerick defender Séamus Hickey.

The football punditry team will feature former Dublin star Paddy Andrews, along with  Marc Ó Sé and 2012 All-Ireland winning captain Michael Murphy. 

paddy-andrews-lifts-the-sam-maguire Paddy Andrews. James Crombie / INPHO James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

RTÉ will provide highlights shows on Saturday and Sunday evening. The first of the Saturday episodes will take place this weekend and will be presented by Damian Lawlor.

Quinn says that while GAAGO’s championship schedule doesn’t include a highlights programme at present, it is something they will revisit over time.

“I don’t think we’d dismiss anything that we feel the viewer would want. There is probably a midweek vacuum at the moment that a number of our partners would look at, and GAAGO would be no different.

“Our focus over the next few weeks and months will be live coverage.

“The opportunity with this is endless. It’s live coverage at the moment but we’re constantly sharing ideas with what people are doing internationally. GAAGO won’t stop at live coverage, this is just the beginning.”

GAAGO expects to bring 39 games to subscribers throughout the championship across the Tailteann Cup, Liam MacCarthy and Sam Maguire competitions. Irish viewers will recall the importance of GAAGO’s platform during the Covid-19 pandemic when fans were prohibited from entering grounds to watch games. And though many will go into this weekend with some familiarity of the GAAGO broadcasting style, Quinn notes that great efforts have been taken to enhance the viewing experience for all.

“People query whether this would be a pandemic-style single camera proposition, and it absolutely is not. I think we will do in excess of 25 games at TV standard which is multi-camera with replays, pre-match presentation, half-time and interviews.

“This is quite a milestone moment in Irish sport. While other bodies have done stellar work, I would suggest this is a milestone in terms of the scale. It’s a proud moment for our amateur association.

“There will be high expectations, and rightly so. So, we have created opening credits, graphics packages, outside broadcast tendering, and we had to go on a talent recruitment drive to get the likes of Gráinne [McElwain] as host etc. Pricing promotion strategies are obviously different to the international market. So it was quite the challenge, and one that we relished.”

Viewers can watch GAAGO on virtually all internet-enabled devices and matches can be cast to a TV screen using the GAAGO iOS and Android apps.

GAAGO is also now available on Amazon Fire Stick, ROKU, and Apple TV, while the development and rollout of smart TV apps is in planning for later in the season.

Subscription to the GAAGO coverage for the 2023 championships is available at different rates including a season pass which is available for €79 [10% discount for GAA members via the Foireann system]. You can find out more about availing of GAAGO packages here.

GAAGO Championship Schedule 

Saturday, 22 April 

Sligo v New York, Connacht SFC [Throw-in, 2.30pm] – Match Only

Kerry v Tipperary, Munster SFC [Throw-in, 4pm] – Match Only 

Galway v Wexford, Leinster SHC [Throw-in, 4.30pm] – Studio and Match Coverage

Cavan v Armagh, Ulster SFC [Throw-in, 6.30pm] – Match and Studio Coverage

Sunday, 23 April

Laois v Dublin, Leinster SFC [Throw-in, 3.30pm] – Match Only

Clare v Tipperary, Munster SHC [Throw-in, 4pm] – Match and Studio Coverage

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