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©INPHO/Donall Farmer File picture Michael Darragh MacAuley giving a press interview in 2011.
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Interview: Bland GAA interviews could be here to stay laments Off The Ball’s Joe Molloy
The Newstalk presenter feels many counties took note of Joe Canning/Henry Shefflin media sensation last year.

FIVE MONTHS ON from the upheaval that gutted Newstalk’s flagship sports show, Joe Molloy is part of the new Off The Ball line-up that has steadied the ship.

The Kildare native moved over from the station’s weekend broadcasts — double-jobbing for long periods — and co-presents with the show’s originator Ger Gilroy.

The latest JNLR figures, released last week, show Off The Ball consolidating its position and attracting an average of 41,000 listeners a night.

Molloy has predicted great things for his former colleagues in the sports department, the men that now make up Second Captains. He believes they are too good and too talented to be off the sporting radar for long. So it has proved with the Second Captain’s podcast increasing to four-a-week and an RTÉ TV pilot on the way.

One issue that Molloy and his former work-mates are encountering at present, and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future, is the lack a genuine access to, and insight from, GAA stars.

“It’s a really big problem,” admitted the presenter.

Without naming the player or team, Molloy told TheScore.ie about an affable, high-profile star with a successful county who was barred from talking about his side’s victory earlier in the year. “Hey said ‘Look lads, I’d love to but I’m not allowed. There’s a blanket ban’.”

He added, “The ultimate problem is that, instead of us talking to a GAA player and promoting the games in an implicit way, we’ll just end up talking about Gareth Bale moving to Real Madrid or we’ll end up interviewing a rugby player, who when we ring the press officer, seems to be more available.

“That’s not always the way. The rugby lads are not just a phone-call away either; that’s an unfair description. But with the GAA guys, it seems that it has gone very, very closed and they are very wary of the media.” Molloy continued:

I do get it. You look at what happened to Joe Canning last year with such an innocuous comment about Henry Shefflin. The thrust of his point was almost ‘we should almost have the same sort of cuteness as Shefflin here’ and yet the headlines the next day ran read as ‘Canning slams Shefflin’, ‘Canning attacks Shefflin’, ‘Canning calls Shefflin a cheat’.”

“The talk can’t have helped him, it can’t have helped Galway and [his manager] Anthony Cunningham can’t have been happy with the nonsense that went on. Ultimate point being, if you’re Joe Canning, do you talk to the media again? Do you put yourself out there and take that risk of your comments being spun. I get all that and the media has a real responsibility to be fair to the players.”

Joe Canning’s comments on Henry Sheflin created a media firestorm before last year’s All Ireland Hurling Final. (©INPHO/Donall Farmer)

Molloy touched on an issue that has been oft commented about by those in the media — access to players becoming increasingly limited to the sale of a product or the promotion of an event. In recent years, he says, there has been a drift to player access coming in the form of group interviews with the same platitudes being delivered to all and sundry.

“It’s not really interesting,” he said, “and I’ve really noticed it, acutely, in the past five, six, seven years. If it continues this way… you kind of reach an impasse where the teams aren’t bothering to talk to the media at all, bar match day.

“The coverage reduces and, as a consequence, there might be not that much of an interest, we don’t get to know the characters, and that would be a worrying place for the GAA to go.”

A full interview with Joe Molloy will feature on TheScore.ie later in the week.

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