Former GAA President O'Neill weighs in on GAAGO controversy

Former GAA President O'Neill weighs in on GAAGO controversy

Liam O'Neill, the former GAA President, has offered his take on the ongoing debate around GAAGO, the controversial pay-per-view service that has angered so many people. The service, which is a joint venture with RTE and the GAA, has come under fire for its pay-per-view model.

The platform had the Cork and Tipperary Munster SHC game and the Clare and Limerick match on its platform on recently for a subscription fee, but the games were not accessible by traditional terrestrial TV stations like RTE.

Sky Sports had its own deal with the GAA, but that contract ended, which allowed GAAGO to take the bulk of the games from its English counterpart.

A number of high-profile people in Ireland have offered their take on the issue, including the likes of The Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Micheál Martin, and former Cork goalkeeper Donal Óg Cusack.

O'Neill, who served as the 37th president of the Gaelic Athletic Association, became the latest person to offer his take on the matter and said that "RTE should prioritize the games as they come and not leave out important hurling games out of the schedule."

"It's very easy to say that all games should be free-to-air," O'Neill told RTÉ Radio 1's Morning Ireland.

"We have 15 games next weekend. No television station could cover all those. And indeed, not every game is probably worthy of being put on national television."

"GAAGO was first introduced along with the Sky deal a number of years ago. I was part of that decision. It was for overseas people who wanted to access the games, and it worked very well. It was a pay-per-view situation, as it is now. But there was no great controversy because it was people outside Ireland who were paying it. The GAA decides which broadcasters get games, it's the broadcaster that decides which games are put on."

"The solution is simple. RTÉ prioritizes the games as they come and does not leave out important hurling games out of the schedule. GAAGO will work really well if the important games are given priority (on RTÉ), and GAAGO broadcast the games that wouldn't otherwise get coverage if it wasn't there."

"If I was in RTÉ and the GAA, I would look at the schedule now and make sure this doesn't happen again. You have to learn from your mistakes. I'm not putting blame here, I'm just saying mistakes were made. We lost two great hurling games, and we can't afford to do that again."

O'Neill also admitted that the state broadcaster RTE can't cover every game, but the issue of having poor broadband is not something that is being highlighted by the likes of Minister Martin.

"They shouldn't be behind the paywall. But - and I'm speaking in favor of RTÉ here - you can't cover every game," O'Neill further said.

"Years ago, we didn't have games on television, and this controversy wasn't there. Now it's there because we have the choice, and choices have to be made. And I think better choices have to be made, and I think in view of this controversy, better choices will be made."

"Streaming is good if you have good broadband. Unfortunately, the Tánaiste didn't mention this. I live in rural Ireland, and we have very poor internet coverage. That was a factor at the weekend too. We were watching the dots going around in the middle of the screen, and it just wasn't good enough."