We're not allowed to show All-Ireland GAA final, says BBC after Sinn Féin tweet

Dublin edged out Mayo by a single point to win Sunday's All-Ireland final, but the BBC was unable to show the game live or any highlights. Picture by Philip Walsh
John Monaghan

THE BBC has said that it was contractually prevented from showing the All-Ireland football final, after Sinn Féin criticism that the GAA showpiece was not available to watch on the broadcaster.

Dublin edged out Mayo by a single point in a thrilling final at Croke Park on Sunday, but GAA fans watching on TV were left with a choice of either RTÉ or Sky Sports, with no live coverage or highlights on the BBC.

On Sunday afternoon BBC Two Northern Ireland showed live coverage of the Champions League of Darts, which was held in the Welsh capital Cardiff.

Since the digital switchover, around 90 per cent of the north's population are thought to have access to RTÉ.

Sinn Féin South Antrim MLA Declan Kearney hit out at the BBC in a tweet on Sunday.

Mr Kearney tweeted: "This is @officialgaa All Ireland SFC Final Day. It's pretty important...And guess what? You've missed it again!"

Last December, the GAA and broadcasters signed a deal for coverage of the football and hurling championships up to 2022.

Under the terms of that agreement, BBC Northern Ireland can broadcast live and deferred coverage of Ulster Championship games - but is not permitted to show the latter stages of the All-Ireland championship.

Radio Ulster offers live transmissions of all Ulster Championship matches and Ulster teams in the qualifiers and All-Ireland stages, and provided live coverage of the minor final between Derry and Kerry on Sunday.

Prior to 2014, BBC and previous rights holder UTV did show live coverage of Ulster teams in the latter stages of the All-Ireland Championship, while the final was traditionally screened regardless of which counties were involved.

However, that arrangement ended when Sky signed its deal with the GAA three years ago.

Twenty games a year from the respective championships are shown on Sky Sports, 14 of which are exclusive, while RTÉ retained its rights to show 31 senior Championship games each year including all provincial hurling and football finals.

The All-Ireland hurling and football semi-finals and finals are shown live on both Sky and RTÉ.

Television coverage for the minor championship remains the exclusive domain of Irish language broadcaster TG4.

A spokesman for BBC Northern Ireland said: "On television, BBC Northern Ireland will broadcast live any Ulster Championship match selected for live broadcast by RTÉ, including the Ulster Final.

"This year we broadcast seven of the eight Ulster Championship games live, with deferred coverage of the remaining game.

"We don't have the rights to televise games in the qualifiers or All-Ireland stages, including the All-Ireland Final - whether there is an Ulster team playing or not.

"All the games in the Ulster Championship, broadcast on BBC Northern Ireland TV – live or deferred - can be viewed on the BBC’s iPlayer catch-up service. We do not have the rights to show highlights on TV," added the spokesman.

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