Donal Óg Cusack slams GAAGO coverage: ‘RTÉ is a public service, not a private company’

Former Mayo star Alan Dillon echoes Cusack’s concerns, insisting Gaelic Games ‘need to be accessible for all’

Former Cork hurler Dónal Óg Cusack. Photo: Sportsfile

Colm Keys

GAAGO's broadcasting of four Munster Hurling Championship games next April and May has drawn a sharp reaction from the former Cork hurler Donal Óg Cusack who has called for "Government leadership" on the issue and questioned whether there is a "conflict of interest" at play.

GAAGO launched its 2024 schedule earlier today with four of the 11 Munster hurling games being broadcast live.

Three games involving Cork will be on GAAGO with two, on successive Sundays in April, not picked up by RTÉ who have first choices in that Sunday afternoon slot. GAAGO have picked them up instead.

Cusack was a strong critic of GAAGO showing Munster Hurling Championship games behind their paywall in 2023 and a reduction of one game - from five to four - cuts no ice with him now, according to a tweet posted earlier.

Cusack believes that proper promotion of hurling involves putting the best games free-to-air so that they are broadcast to the widest possible audience.

He described the four Munster hurling GAAGO games as "a commercial decision to coin off hurling," adding that it was "continuing a trend of neglecting our game and part of our culture.

"The opposite is the duty of both RTÉ and the GAA," he said. "RTÉ is a public service, not a private company. The GAA should be the guardians of hurling, not the exploiters.

"Surely Government leadership needed here. What is the purpose of both institutions in this case. Is there a conflict of interest at play?"

GAAGO is a collaboration between RTÉ and the GAA that stepped in as a broadcast partner for championship games when Sky Sports withdrew last year.

Former Mayo captain and current Fine Gael TD Alan Dillon echoed Cusack’s concerns, outlining how the deal goes against the “ethos” of the GAA.

“Our national games, be it hurling and GAA, need to be accessible for all,” Dillon told RTÉ.

“And what we are doing by putting these games behind a paywall, we are making it even harder to access those games. Certainly, this goes against the ethos and the principles of inclusivity and volunteerism that the GAA stands for.

“GAAGO’s schedule for 2024 . . . doesn’t present a viable option for many supporters who want to access these games.”