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John Horan: 'I'm delighted to see RTÉ have improved their performance in showing our games'

The GAA President was pleased to see highlights show League Sunday run for two hours at the weekend.

Joanne Cantwell will take over as the main presenter of the Sunday Game this year.
Joanne Cantwell will take over as the main presenter of the Sunday Game this year.
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

JOHN HORAN HAS praised RTÉ for their “improved” coverage of the GAA during an appearance in front of the Oireachtas at Seanad Eireann today. 

Declan McBennett replaced Ryle Nugent as RTÉ’s Head of Sport last April and earlier this month it was announced the national broadcaster will televise four Allianz League games live in addition to club championship matches in the winter.

RTÉ had previously been criticised for its reluctance to take a greater share of the GAA calendar, but McBennett’s appointment has been a positive one for relations between both organisations.

RTÉ’s league highlights show ‘League Sunday’ has seen a significant increase in its air-time so far in 2019, with the first episode running for two hours on Sunday night.

McBennett also sought to change the tone of the TV coverage, warning pundits last summer that personal attacks on players and managers will “not be tolerated”.

“I’m going to go on the record here and say I’m delighted to see RTÉ have improved their performance in showing our games,” said Horan.

“Last Sunday night was a perfect example of it. We got two hours of promotion of our games. We are the national games and they are the national broadcaster.”

The GAA President also addressed a complaint by a senator in the Seanad about the lack of GAA televised live in Northern Ireland. The BBC provides live coverage of the Ulster SFC but its deal with the GAA does not allow it to air the latter stages of the championships and the All-Ireland finals.

There has been much criticism of the GAA’s 2014 deal with Sky Sports which means some matches are no longer available to fans unless they pay a subscription.

“GAAGO gives a wonderful opportunity for our members throughout the world to see our games,” he said.

“The word ‘Sky’ is touchy with some people. We’re a democratic organisation. We’ve put it in front of our membership and they’re happy where it is and that’s what it is.

“There are difficulties with the broadcasting of our games in Northern Ireland. We have met with representatives from the community up there in trying to resolve it.

“It’s not all our problem, but in terms of Belfast and that, we’ve done our best to promote the game in Belfast. We’ve put a 5 million project together called ‘Gaelfast’ to drive on the promotion of our games.”

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Join us to preview the Six Nations with Simon Zebo, Murray Kinsella and Gavan Casey on Thursday @7pm in Liberty Hall Theatre Dublin.

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Kevin O'Brien

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