SKY Sports may not be enjoying the expected viewing figures for their live GAA coverage, but they have gained royal support with Queen Elizabeth admitting she is a fan.
GAA president Liam O’Neill revealed that he was invited to dine at her majesty’s table when she visited City Hall in Belfast last week, and was surprised when the Queen told him she had watched hurling.
O’Neill was one of nine guests at the table, and was shocked when she said that she had been impressed by the hurling match that she had watched on Sky Sports.
“I was privileged to sit at a table for lunch with Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth of England last week — we had met before in Croke Park when she had visited — and we touched the topic of hurling and she said yes, she seen it,” the GAA president explained.
“She saw it on television on Sky, she said ‘I’m not quite sure how I got it’ but she said it was wonderful. She made a side-to-side motion with her head saying it was very fast and it was a wonderful game.
“I’m not sure whether it was Offaly v Kilkenny or Wexford v Dublin, we didn’t go into detail on that because you can only engage her for a certain amount of time in a group of nine but the fact of the matter is that she says she saw it and I just think it’s interesting that she did.”
O’Neill added that he was not concerned with the low viewing figures reported for Sky’s GAA coverage in Ireland, insisting that it was not representative of the broadcasting as a whole.
“It doesn’t take in account the people looking at it in HD, I think it doesn’t take into account the people in the pubs where they have Sky Sports.
“We were never that worried about the people in Ireland watching the game on Sky. It was for Britain we did the Sky deal effectively and the numbers there are standing up very well.
“We seen their Twitter reaction to it and we are getting anecdotal evidence from our clubs in Britain that it’s proving a huge success because they are now able to show, the parents of young people are trying to engage in schools, that this is the game and this is what it looks like.”