We are in the middle of the championship season and the big matches are now starting to come thick and fast on a weekly basis, but the GAA have made a huge mistake by awarding the exclusive TV rights to Sky TV to cover some of these games. The viewing figures back up just how wrong the GAA have been to deny hundreds of thousands of people the chance to see some of their best players and teams in action.

Last Sunday there were substantially less than 10,000 people watching the Limerick v Clare match in the Munster SFC which was exclusively on Sky. Earlier in the day RTE showed the Down v Armagh Ulster SFC game and there were over 300,000 viewers. This weekend one of the most eagerly anticipated games of the summer, the clash of Wexford and Kilkenny in the Leinster SHC will take place on Saturday night. It is a crying shame that only a few thousand people will get to see the drama unfold.

It’s easy for the GAA top brass to say that people can go to a neighbour or to the nearest pub but there are people who may have no interest in going to the pub or maybe they are elderly or infirm and not able to go to a neighbour or friend. The GAA say that they wanted to spread Gaelic Games to as wide an audience as possible. It’s a very laudable ambition but this is not the way to do it. The figures are showing that there is little or no interest in the UK in hurling and even less interest in football.

RTE do a good job covering GAA but they need realistic competition. Surely the GAA could have gone to TV3 and reached an agreement with them for alternative TV coverage so everyone could share in the games. I watched Sky last Saturday evening trying to fill an hours’ coverage in the run up to the Dublin v Carlow game and it was painful stuff to watch. I have great time for Peter Canavan, James Horan and Jimmy McGuinness who are the football analysts and their hurling experts are also top class. But the facts of the matter are that this an elitist braodcast and available to a very small number of people and the GAA should never have agreed to this contract in the first place.

I am also of the opinion that the facility to broadcast games on national radio should not have been handed to RTE on an exclusive basis. Yes, they do a good job but Newstalk were doing well over the past few years and were a breath of fresh air and a welcome alternative to the national broadcaster.

As someone who loves Gaelic Games it is so wrong that many hundreds of thousands of people are denied a chance to see some of our biggest games of the summer in football and hurling and The GAA have made a serious mistake by awarding the TV rights to these matches to Sky TV. Newstalk also deserve another rattle at the radio coverage. I have met so many GAA people who are very angry about this situation in recent weeks and months and it is time they copped on and included people instead of excluding them.