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Wexford hurling legend blasts GAA paywall for live action

Tom Dempsey not happy with the lack of free-to-air TV coverage

Clare's win over Limerick was not available on free-to-air TV. Image: Sportsfile.© SPORTSFILE

Colm Keys

Former Wexford All-Ireland-winning hurler Tom Dempsey is the latest to add a voice of concern over what he feels is a dearth of live hurling championship coverage on free-to-air television this season.

Dempsey, speaking on South-East Radio, expressed particular frustration that the Limerick/Clare Munster SHC game on Saturday night was behind the GAAGO paywall.

There will be no hurling championship coverage broadcast live on free-to-air television over the next two weekends until a double Sunday afternoon broadcast on RTÉ featuring Clare and Cork and Tipperary and Limerick in the Munster SHC on May 21.

The Joe McDonagh Cup final will be broadcast live on Saturday May 27 after that and the following day RTÉ will show two games, one of the concluding Munster SHC round robin games, either Limerick and Cork or Tipperary and Waterford, and one of the concluding Leinster SHC round robin games, Kilkenny and Wexford or Dublin and Galway.

In the meantime the home of Saturday night hurling will be GAAGO with two games this weekend, Dublin and Wexford in Leinster and Cork and Tipperary in the Munster SHC, and Waterford and Clare on Saturday, May 13.

GAAGO, a joint streaming service collaboration between the GAA and RTÉ, has effectively replaced the Sky Sports Saturday schedule but expanded coverage to 38 live games, though some will be 'match only;' production feeds.

"I am absolutely not happy and I think it needs to be debated on another day, the fact that Clare and Limerick wasn't free-to-air last Saturday. The most entertaining game of the year last year, bigger stakes last Saturday evening," said Dempsey.

"I don't know who is to blame," he added. "There are nine (free-to-air provincial championship) games being covered this year (14 including All-Ireland quarter-finals, semi-finals and finals).

"It is not promoting our product. We have a six to eight week window to promote our product and I think it needs to be discussed sooner rather than later. Don't deprive (people), particularly elderly people," said Dempsey.

"We were giving out about Sky but what was done? It was replaced with a GAA pay-per-view system. It's not acceptable, it's not good enough and more (hurling) promotion is needed on the national airwaves. I wouldn't be happy with it and I know a lot of people agree with me on it," Dempsey told the station.

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