GAA games and Ulster teams

I’ve just checked and I note that, of the eight teams in the All-Ireland Football quarter-finals,  four are from Ulster. That’s quite an achievement and not one that’s received a lot of comment from the media. Maybe that’s because three of the teams – Cavan, Monaghan and Donegal – are from Ulster but not from Ulster-as-some-know-it.  For example, I used to work in the University of Ulster. I remember when the name of the new university was announced, one staff member spent some time impressing on us all how lucky we were to have the word ‘Ulster’ in our title.  She didn’t explain why we should feel lucky but she made it clear that we were very lucky. Had anyone asked if the Ulster in question included Donegal, Monaghan and Cavan, I suspect she would have considered that a question in very bad taste. 
More relevantly, over the years I’ve been in and out of the BBC doing bits and pieces of one kind or another for near to thirty years. In all that time, I’ve never heard any of the staff express surprise or unease about the title ‘Radio Ulster’.  Were they asked, I expect senior staff would reply that the Ulster they had in mind was the Ulster of Northern Ireland – i.e., the six counties. Any suggestion that the name Radio Ulster overstated the station reach would be dismissed as nit-picking. 
Anyway, to get to the point. Let’s suppose (although I hate to even think of it) that Tyrone are knocked out of the competition on Saturday and the other three Ulster teams march on  (an unlikely outcome but possible).  Will Radio Ulster and BBC Television Northern Ireland continue to cover games with the same enthusiasm?  Let’s say it’s a possible but unlikely scenario. Because, you see, the N Ireland team – Tyrone – will be gone, so what would be the point?
To even ask that question is to misunderstand the average Gaelic football fan. He or she will of course wish to see his/her team continue in the competition; but if they’re gone, that doesn’t mean their interest has ended. Is there a fan in the country who won’t want to see Dublin playing Cork? Or, say, Kerry playing Donegal?  But be sure of this: they may watch such games on television, but it won’t be on BBC Northern Ireland television. 

Who said politics had no place in sport?

19 Responses to GAA games and Ulster teams

  1. Anonymous July 30, 2013 at 8:59 am #

    Jude;I think perhaps you see conspiracies everywhere .As I understand it,B B C (NI) have the rights to cover all matches in the Ulster Championship .Thereafter R T E/T V 3 have the broadcasting rights.If as many of us hope,Tyrone reach the All Ireland final I would hope that the powers that be in B B C Belfast will negotiate with R T E.We live in hope if not expectation!

  2. John Patton July 30, 2013 at 9:20 am #

    Do you remember when the Derry Journal used to to apostrophise ‘Ulster’ in Ulster Transport Authority and ‘Ulster’bus? Maybe it still occurs as I have rarely seen the Journal in the last 40 years plus.Given the insidiously unsporting nature of Tyrone’s play on Sunday, let’s hope they do not last long as Ulster representatives. There’s a romance about Monaghan which would be delicious to see fulfilled.

  3. Den Duffin July 30, 2013 at 9:43 am #

    Is it not strange that since the local militias,UDR etc were taken away from the shadowy country lanes that Ulster football has thrived?

  4. Jude Collins July 30, 2013 at 9:45 am #

    Anon 09:59 – No, I don’t think I see conspiracies everywhere. Or even in the BBC. I think the reluctance to cover Gaelic games if there’s not a six-county or at a stretch an Ulster team playing comes from the bad old days when the idea of even hearing GAA results on BBC radio was laughable. The fact is, tens of thousands of Gaelic games fans would like to see games other than those involving Ulster teams. They’re licence payers (most of them). Why aren’t they being served?

  5. Jude Collins July 30, 2013 at 9:48 am #

    John – I do indeed, although I’m fairly sure they’ve abandoned that. As to the ‘insidiously unsporting nature of Tyrone’s play’ – hahaahaaaa. You’re beginning to sound like Joe Brolly, John. A man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do. Some of the Tyrone play was negative/obstructionist/penalty-prone; more of it was kinda beautiful. I say that, of course, as a detached observer….And I really am sorry Derry didn’t get past Cavan.

  6. Anonymous July 30, 2013 at 11:23 am #

    In addition Jude, how can the GAA justify giving rights to TV3 when most people in the north don’t get the channel. Is this the GAA promoting a National identity ? And yes, Tyrone were horribly cynical and as usual, quick to lick the grass last weekend.

  7. Anonymous July 30, 2013 at 1:09 pm #

    I think the days of Tyrone acting as the nice guys are over.Gone are the days when we were patronised by the likes of Kerry.I wonder would John consider the performance of Meath against Tyrone in 1996 “insidiously unsporting”.If he cares to remember ,that day Meath kicked the Red Hands around and 3 of the Tyrone players sustained serious injuries.Having said that,no one would begrudge Monaghan their day in the sun.

  8. Jude Collins July 30, 2013 at 1:36 pm #

    Anon 12:23 – In the light of your comments on Tyrone, a squad of perfect gentlemen, I’m afraid I’ll have to regard your future remarks as those of a madman…

  9. Anonymous July 30, 2013 at 2:15 pm #

    To be fair to Radio Ulster, I think their record in covering Championship matches involving teams from the 9 counties of Ulster is good.The position with T V as indicated above is less clear.But surely those who aspire to a National identity would in any case watch R T E which is the National broadcaster(wouldn’t they)!

  10. Anonymous July 30, 2013 at 10:16 pm #

    Spot on Jude. If Ulster got knocked out of the Heino, the coverage would continue. It’s absolutely ridiculous that only Ulster teams are covered especially at the later stages, when Ulster teams will be playing the winners of X and Y. It simply must be a political decision. The average GAA fan is interested in the whole competition, the same as the Man U. fan wants to know if Chelsea beat Arsenal.

  11. Anonymous July 31, 2013 at 8:36 am #

    Jude,if all else fails,you can support Donegal.I think you mentioned in a previous blog that you were born in Donegal but raised in Tyrone.Saturday evening will tell the tale!

  12. Eddie Finnegan July 31, 2013 at 1:36 pm #

    Jude, remarkable the raft of responses you get when real football’s the topic.
    But my real question is, could one of your non-anonymous responders, John Patton, be the same John I shared a cavernous bedroom with idTeach a’ Mháistir, alongside Eamonn McCann and Paddy Diamond in the summer of 1960?
    And my supplementary: Whatever happened to Ballysally University, as we thought they were going to ‘christen’ the New University, during my brief sojourn in Coleraine in 1965? Their decision against Baile na Saileach was the real death knell for localism and the beginning of the demise of the townland.

  13. captain_shamrock July 31, 2013 at 1:45 pm #

    @Anonymous (30 July 2013 23:16)

    I was just about to post the same thing. It’s the refusal to cover the big GAA games, eg Kerry v Dublin semi/quarter finals, that marks BBC NI as hopelessly blinkered. The averaqe GAA fan IS interested in our sport’s big games, the showpieces if you like, yet the BBC pretend they don’t exist.

    And it’s not all about rights either. There’s no reason why a weekly roundup couldn’t be done, showing all league or championsip matches. Or something like breaking ball.

    The BBC NI Gaelic Games website never carries reports of the big matches involving our sport’s big teams. It’s akin to people in Manchester only getting soccer coverage of Man Utd, Man City, but never getting any coverage, results or league tables of Arsenal or Chelsea on any of their BBC media.

    To me, it smacks of BBC NI failing to fully grasp the uniqueness of NI. They’re an avowedly British organisation whose master template can’t cope with broadcasting in a region where fewer than half now see themselves as British.

  14. Jude Collins July 31, 2013 at 1:55 pm #

    Eddie – it almost certainly is the same man. As to Ballysally Univ – you must be joking. UU has a certain je ne said quoi don’t you think? Ballysally – that sounds suspiciously Irish in origin…

  15. Anonymous July 31, 2013 at 3:38 pm #

    It’s a pity that someone like Ryan Feeney from the Ulster Council G A A can’t give us a definitive answer as to what the B B C contractually is oblidged to do in terms of coverage of C’ship games.The next time you’re in the B B C (Ormeau Avenue) you might ask the Head of Sport.

  16. Anonymous August 1, 2013 at 4:54 pm #

    The one bonus about watching Tyrone games on B B C at the moment is that we are privy to the thoughts of manager Mickey Harte.Mickey and his team are still refusing to give interviews to R T E.

  17. Anonymous August 1, 2013 at 11:38 pm #

    Jude, you’re from Omagh aren’t you? I always felt uneasy at the title of the ‘Ulster’ American Folk Park which tells the tale of the Irish Famine and the emigrtaion because of it. Irish American Folk Park wouldn’t do would it?

  18. Jude Collins August 2, 2013 at 7:31 am #

    Anon 00:38 – I passed it last week and the same thought crossed my mind. And of course it uses that ambiguous word ‘Ulster’ – as in Ulster Bank, University of Ulster, Ulster Hospital, Radio Ulster…

  19. Anonymous August 3, 2013 at 6:22 pm #

    Onwards for Tyrone!What did you think of Joe Brollys post-match comments?Won’t have won him many friends in Tyrone.