Thousands of Donegal fans from across Inishowen are heading to the capital this weekend for the All-Ireland quarter-final clash against Armagh, but thousands more will remain in the north-west to watch the big game on the small screen.
For the first time ever, the eagerly-awaited Donegal championship clash on Saturday night will be televised exclusively live on Sky Sports.
However many local supporters, particularly those unable to make the trip to Croke Park,
are unhappy that the broadcast will be available only to those with a subscription to the British satellite channel.
Muff gaelic footballer Eunan Keaveney is one of those adversely affected by the GAA’s new Sky deal.
“I have a two-year-old at home and my wife works at weekends so unfortunately I am unable to go to the game. I don’t have Sky Sports at home so I’m hoping to be able to watch in a friend’s house or try to arrange a babysitter to watch it in the pub. Either way it’s an awkward situation,” he said.
Eunan thinks the decision to move some games to the pay-per-view format has been ‘unfair’ for many supporters.
“I can understand some of the reason behind the GAA’s decision to bring Sky on board – opening the games up to a wider audience outside of Ireland and increased financial benefits – but it’s unfair on grassroots members.”
“Local club volunteers make the GAA what it is and it’s unfair to deny those without Sky TV the opportunity to watch such an important game. I think the quarter-finals should have been shown on both RTE and Sky, just like the semi-finals and final,” Eunan added.
Rose Kelly, from the Urris GAA club, has also been put out by the Sky-GAA agreement.
“I would have much preferred for RTE to have kept all the games. Urris is hosting a big breakfast on Saturday so, as I’m working at that, I won’t make Croker.”
“I will probably just have to give in and upgrade to Sky Sports this weekend,” said Rose, who says she is keeping her fingers crossed for trips to the semi-final and final in the coming weeks!
Cllr. Jack Murray, who represents the Burt GAA club, says he is travelling to Dublin but is not in favour of the match being shown exclusively on Sky Sports.
“I’m not in favour of the GAA’s decision to show some games on Sky as it makes our community-based sport inaccessible to many families here. While the deal will allow for the promotion of the sport in Britain – that shouldn’t be at a cost to people in Ireland,” he said.
Greencastle’s Ian Cavanagh, who nows lives in Melbourne, will be staying up late to watch the quarter-final in Australia.
Ironically the game is free-to-air down under on terrestrial station, Seven, which secured the rights to broadcast 45 GAA matches in Australia this season.
With Jim McGuinness’ Ulster champions clear favourites to exorcise the ghosts of last year’s Croker disaster against Mayo and reach the semi-finals, all local fans are united on one thing this Saturday – and that’s backing the boys in yellow and green.