Dónal Óg Cusack: 'GAA and RTÉ have failed to promote hurling'

Dónal Óg Cusack: 'GAA and RTÉ have failed to promote hurling'

Former Cork hurler Dónal Óg Cusack has criticised both the GAA and RTÉ for the decision to place several games behind the GAAGO paywall, saying that it does nothing for the growth of hurling in Ireland. 

Last year, the GAAGO subscription service and the Irish state broadcaster RTÉ faced criticism for not showing certain games in the country, with some crucial GAA games only accessible through the GAAGO subscription.

This week, the GAA broadcast schedule for the 2024 football and hurling season was announced, including nine hurling championship games (five Leinster and four Munster), 22 football championship games, and seven Tailteann Cup games.

However, three of Cork's Munster Senior hurling games will not be broadcast on RTÉ and will only be available on the GAAGO service.

Cusack, a vocal critic of the subscription service last year expressed dissatisfaction with both the GAA and RTÉ for not supplying the necessary "oxygen" for the growth of hurling in 2022. He has once again repeated his comments and feelings around the subject

"We have said for many years that hurling needs growth. Hurling needs oxygen. This does nothing for the promotion of hurling. One of the purposes of the GAA is surely to grow the game of hurling. In its duty, as it has acted as a steward over many years, it has failed in that role,"Cusack told RTÉ News this week. 

Cusack also believes that RTÉ, as a state broadcaster, should enrich, enhance, and promote the national sport rather than prioritising profit over the growth of the game. He suggests that the Irish government should intervene to correct this situation.

"There are also question marks for RTÉ. As a public service body, surely one of their duties is to promote a cultural asset like hurling. They are failing to do that with this deal also. Someone in Croke Park and someone in Montrose (RTÉ) thought it was a good idea to make a small amount of profit next year, or a perceived profit in the future, on the back of hurling, and it does nothing for the game. The government should come into this and take a serious look because I believe both institutions are not doing their duty in this case."

According to GAA president Larry McCarthy, the decision to show three of the four Cork games on GAAGO was made because it was the only choice available, or the games would not be broadcast at all. Cusack disputes this and reiterates his belief that profit is the primary reason for not showing the games on free-to-air television.

"I don’t buy that for a minute," added Cusack. "There are probably more GAA clubs in Cork than in the entirety of Connacht. Someone is trying to coin off the back of this. And it’s the games, and hurling in particular, that are suffering because of it."