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'They’re giving the public what they want' - Sunday Game pundit backs hurling-heavy schedule

Derek McGrath believes RTÉ made the right decision to televise nine Munster SHC games this summer.

Munster hurling is set to dominate RTÉ's 2019 GAA schedule.
Munster hurling is set to dominate RTÉ's 2019 GAA schedule.
Image: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

SUNDAY GAME PUNDIT Derek McGrath has defended RTÉ’s decision to put an emphasis on hurling in its 2019 GAA schedule.

Munster hurling is set to dominate the broadcaster’s coverage, with nine games from the competition being televised live this summer.

There are considerably fewer football championship games on RTÉ’s schedule for 2019.

The four provincial finals along with an Ulster SFC semi-final are the main games that will be shown live, while a number of knockout fixtures during the All-Ireland series will also feature.

McGrath believes that the emphasis on hurling in the Sunday Game’s coverage is a reflection of the sport’s popularity among GAA fans.

“It’s probably a direct reaction to the championship last year, in terms of how good it was,” says McGrath

“I think hurling just reached new levels last year, not just for ourselves but new levels in general, in terms of its exposure, how it was played.

One game is better than the next. They’re giving the public what they want to a certain extent. I’d balance that by saying the league final between Mayo and Kerry in the football (was a great game).

“I would be hopeful that the football championship would be good this year, just a gut feeling. Sometimes what can happen is when people are waiting for something to happen, like the hurling championship might disappoint. Everything is by way of comparison.

Electric Ireland Darkness Into Light with Derek McGrath Derek McGrath will be on Sunday Game duty this summer. Source: David Fitzgerald/SPORTSFILE

“If everything is to go back to comparing to last year, we might struggle by comparison. You sometimes hear people saying ‘it’s not as good as last year’, before they even watch the match. I think it’ll probably even itself out over the championship.”

McGrath stepped down as Waterford hurling manager last year, after their early exit from the championship.

After five years in charge of the Déise, he admits that he finds himself missing the work “at this time of the year” as the high-point of the hurling season approaches. 

He ventured into television punditry with the Sunday Game shortly after, and says he is enjoying the challenge of analysing the game and breaking down passages of play for the viewers.

One of his ambitions in this new role is to avoid becoming “one of those smug analysts” while he also concedes that preparing to critically analyse his old team is a concern for him.

But he vows that he won’t be influenced by his connection to the Waterford dressing room.

Derek McGrath McGrath stepped down as Waterford hurling boss last year. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

“You would [be concerned], and even going forward, if you’re involved in a match and one of the lads was sent off or was involved in a controversy.

You’re sort of thinking to yourself, ‘I hope it doesn’t happen on my watch.’ That’s natural to talk about the players. I think in the modern climate, you can constructively critical without imparting in a manner that’s hurtful or personal.

“I’m on [the Sunday Game] for the Waterford v Tipperary game on 19 May, and if I’m asked to analyse Waterford, I’ll do it to the best of my ability but not in a cold-hearted or self-centred way.

“If something happens in front of me I’ll have to say it without deliberately courting attention, or sensationalist.

“I don’t want to fall into that category.”

Former Waterford Hurling Manager, Derek McGrath teamed up with Electric Ireland and Pieta House to encourage people to experience The Power of Hope by registering for this year’s Darkness into Light event on 11th May at www.darknessintolight.ie

#ThePowerOfHope #DIL2019. Darkness into Light, organised by Pieta House is proudly supported by Electric Ireland since 2013. 

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