There was a ninety minute edition of League Sunday last weekend, where GAA supporters had another opportunity to see their county’s performance in the fourth round of the National Hurling League and the fifth round of the National Football League; if your county happens to be involved in the top divisions that is.
Once again, we were treated to extended highlights of games shown live over the weekend while not even a mention of many others. In the lead up to Congress this year, there was a growing concern that proposals for a second tier championship would lead to a culture of elitism in the GAA between those in the top tier and those in the lower tier.
However, this elitism already exists within the national media. How many times will we hear the same teams and the same players discussed and analysed over the course of the year? Obviously more successful teams are going to dominate coverage as they play more games and are involved in the latter stages of the competitions, yet the level of coverage granted to less successful teams is unjustifiable.
GAA journalists have taken it on themselves to discuss the plight of the inter-county footballer over the last few years. ‘Indentured slaves’ has become a buzzword when describing them. There are problems with the structure of the GAA. The club championship is being treated with disrespect across the country and change needs to happen, but before these pundits are canonised for raising awareness of these issues, perhaps they should be aware of their own complicity in elitism in the GAA.
The analysis afforded to championship matches involving counties such as Wexford, Longford, Tipperary, Clare etc. is pitiful to say the least, with a 30-second montage of scores and then a token ‘Oh yeah, that was a great result for…’, before moving on to lengthy analysis of a previously televised game. Unsurprisingly, there is even less coverage of these teams throughout the National League.
As a Wexford supporter, I have travelled the length and breadth of the country and have been fortunate enough to see some fantastic matches with all that is good about the game on display. Last Sunday, I didn’t have to travel too far as Wexford took on near neighbours Wicklow in a game that espoused positive attacking football.
Within the 70+ minutes, there were seven goals scored and 37 points. This was a game played by both teams fighting for promotion and yet there was none of the negative atmosphere and attitude that was on display in the recent game in Tralee. The blanket was left firmly folded at home as both teams took each other on in the spirit of the game.
There were some fantastic scores throughout the game, though Adrian Flynn’s point in the first half was surely the standout moment as the Gusserane man struck a wonder score with the outside of the boot to extend Wexford’s lead. This was a score worth the admission fee alone and it strikes me as a shocking pity that only for social media, the vast majority would not be able to see this score.
Undoubtedly there were many fine scores over the weekend but the constant emphasis on the top divisions is unfair, not only on supporters who may not be able to attend certain matches but on the players, who deserve recognition regardless of their division.
Perhaps it’s time for the GAA to commission an online programme that would allow supporters access to a wider scale of highlights, but one thing’s for sure, we can’t keep ignoring players like Adrian Flynn. He, and many others like him have given as much to their jersey as the players in Mayo, Dublin, Kerry etc. and deserve recognition.
There’s a huge audience for GAA out there and not just in top division counties. An extended programme with highlights across the weekend’s action would fill this gap and ensure that nobody misses scores like Flynn’s again.
Ciara O’Toole, Pundit Arena