This TV Review first appeared in the Andersonstown News
Wasn’t Derry great last Saturday, beating Clare to get to the All-Ireland Football semi-final? Even if you weren’t an honorary Derry person like myself, you had to hand it to the Derry forwards for putting the ball in the Clare net within minutes of throw-in. A few ghastly defensive errors aside, they dazzled throughout the game and won comfortably.
And last Sunday Armagh’s comeback in the game’s dying seconds was superb, before that stupid brawl and that even stupider penalty shoot-out. For once I agreed with Pat Spillane: the game deserved a replay.
I watched the Saturday game on Sky, the Sunday one on RTÉ. Does that matter? Well, when you’re used to something, including Gaelic games exclusively on RTÉ, you instinctively resist change.
But my chief objection to watching GAA on Sky is that Sky – for which I’m paying a bloody fortune – is owned by Rupert Murdoch, and I wince with shame, that I’m putting more money into that ghastly mountebank’s pocket. Especially when chunks of games and even channels suddenly disappear, and the notice on the screen says there’s a fault with your satellite reception. Mmm. I pay Murdoch, he supplies the TV reception. So will Rupert compensate me for suddenly not getting the CNN channel, and for missing the Armagh-Galway punch-up? Not a chance. And if I don’t pay my full subscription to Rupert each month, you may be sure he’ll instantly cut off my Sky. No wonder even Jerry Hall now realises that marrying the Flaky One from Oz was one of her poorer decisions.
But back to the GAA and Sky. The GAA’s claim is that Sky makes it possible for GAA fans to watch Gaelic games no matter where they’re living in the world. That’s a strong argument: the interest in Gaelic games is strong and growing in the US, Australia, New Zealand – all sorts of places. So instead of cursing the GAA as some sort of sporting harlot, maybe I should be grateful that they’ve done a deal. The power and glory of GAA games gets to people around the world, the GAA gets money out of the deal – it’s win-win.
And the punditry? The most notable change in GAA punditry on Sky and RTE is that the presenter very often is a woman. Which is good, because there’s been a huge increase in recent years in the number of women watching and playing Gaelic sports. So of course female GAA presenters are a response to that.
But there’s a void. An emptiness. A vacuum. All during those games on Saturday and Sunday, I’m thinking “What would Brolly have said to that?”
Without Brolly, Pat Spillane is the sound of one hand clapping.