TikTok, Instagram, YouTube – it's all there for the GAA and it's time they got with the programme
In a summer effectively owned by the GAA, they have failed in generating any huge conversation or engaging official content
There was I, thinking we’d passed the point of no return, where everything means something and the football championship has taken an unexpectedly interesting shape.
And then…well, nothing.
Granted, I’m new to taking in a GAA summer as a follower/fan/consumer/columnist, but I can’t get my head around the absence of official ‘content’ from Monday to Friday.
Last Sunday? Box office, even if the crowd in Croke Park was awful.
Clare into the last eight. Mayo dicing with death as only they can.
Lee Keegan doing his thing. Jordan Flynn with a goal from 40 metres. Enter The Sunday Game.
Now, look – The Sunday Game is what it is. By its very nature, it can’t and won’t keep everybody happy, even if for some reason, it continues to try.
But it has an impossible task. We’ve all got our biases.
Whether it’s our own county or our own sport or both. We want those games showed, we want them analysed in a manner that suits our agenda by the ex-players we like, and – if at all possible – we’d like it to be screened first so we can get off to bed early, thanks very much.
If the schedule doesn’t reflect our preferences, we’ll flick open Twitter and call it all a “joke.”
But what do we expect? Think about it.
Match of the Day covers the Premier League. A maximum of ten matches per weekend.
The Sunday Game has to look after football, hurling, camogie, and ladies football.
Provincial championships. All-Ireland series. Tailteann Cup. Joe McDonagh. Christy Ring. Nickey Rackard.
And, generally speaking, it does a good job, particularly on those really hectic weekends, by giving everything some sort of a showing, regardless of merit.
I read Des Cahill’s interview with Vincent Hogan here and something he said struck me.
“Of all the programmes in RTÉ, I think The Sunday Game is the one that people feel most ownership of. Maybe people feel more comfortable beating us over the head, and that’s fair enough because they, effectively, own the programme.”
Which is fair enough. But the reason there’s so much pressure on The Sunday Game from the general populace to be all things to all men, women, and children is simple – it’s all we’ve got.
From half eleven on a Sunday night until the following Saturday, there is no new GAA ‘content’.
Not on RTÉ. Not on Sky (whose midweek highlights programme seems to have mysteriously disappeared from their schedule). But worst of all, not from the GAA itself.
Fair City, Young Sheldon, Joanna Lumley’s Great Cities of the World, DIY SOS.
These are some of the shows on RTÉ’s 8.30pm slots earlier this week, an ideal time for a notional second GAA programme.
I can’t believe that a well-produced magazine show or a preview package or even an extended highlights show from the previous weekend’s action, wouldn’t rate better than those programmes.
But if that is the case, if viewership figures don’t merit another GAA programme, then fine. Do it on YouTube or some other online platform.
Surely the GAA see the value in that, for their own gains, rather than RTÉ’s or some other broadcast station?
We consume the majority of our media through our phones anyway.
Meanwhile, on the GAA’s official Instagram right now, there’s a clip of Armagh’s goal by Rory Grugan in the first minute against Donegal, and Clare’s late winner against Roscommon.
There’s a quick highlights package from the four qualifiers and that’s it, in terms of actual match footage or game analysis or features from last weekend.
The same with Twitter. The same with Facebook.
God bless the person who took the video of Tony Kelly’s sideline in the Munster final because its only presence on the GAA socials is as part of a wider highlights package.
The world of media is changing.
Research collated from January this year revealed that 21 per cent of Irish people have a TikTok account. Among this group, 58 per cent use it daily.
To the best of my knowledge, the GAA doesn’t even have an official TikTok account.
Now it’s only fair to acknowledge here that expansion into these relatively new forms of media would require extra resources.
But what they’ll spend on manpower, they’ll surely make back in the Irish sport equivalent of floating voters.
And it’s hardly asking too much that the GAA keeps up with its own membership.
Me? I want content coming out my ears. Bombard me with it.
Buff Egan! Maybe Colm Parkinson doing GAA Jackass.
Not everything will be to everyone’s taste, but clearly, it all has a demographic. Otherwise these websites like Balls, Joe, The42 wouldn’t be viable.
Where’s the ‘Top 10 scores from the weekend?’ Or the ‘Race to the Golden boot/hurl’?
You follow the audience. Go where the eyeballs go.
We haven’t even scratched the surface. There’s no end to the kind of stuff you could talk about or that people will consume.
A small thing. James Horan said last weekend that he has to name his team by Thursday morning, after which there is no change allowed to his match-day panel.
Which, presumably, means Croke Park has access to all of the weekend’s line-ups by Thursday lunchtime.
Why not release them once they come in?
What’s the point in relying on county boards to publish them, often on the morning of matches, when they’ve been confirmed 72 hours earlier?
Here we are, in the middle of June. There’s no World Cup. No Premier League. The GAA effectively owns this part of the summer.
They could, were they of a mind, generate huge conversation and by extension, online traffic on a slow news day simply by releasing information they already possess.
Another small thing. I can’t imagine that there’s any other major sporting body on earth that performs their big-ticket draws at 8.30am on a morning radio programme.
Of all the types of media, the one that’s least compatible with a draw is radio.
Are we doing things because they’re the best way to do them or because this is how they’ve always been done?
Because honestly, the absence of engaging official content is one of the things that constantly surprises me now, in the early stages of inter-county retirement.
It’s gas. With Dublin, we always reckoned we did a good job of ‘blocking out the noise’ around the team as we got deeper into the championship and the volume was inevitably dialled up.
But it’s only now, from the outside, that I can see how little noise there actually was.
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