Northern Ireland news

Tyrone GAA to continue RTÉ boycott for All-Ireland final

Tyrone GAA manager Mickey Harte, and RTÉ headquarters
Brendan Hughes

TYRONE GAA is to continue its boycott of RTÉ by not taking part in any of the broadcaster's coverage surrounding the All-Ireland final.

RTÉ said Tyrone GAA had confirmed that its management and players would not be participating in interviews before and after next month's match against Dublin.

It has maintained a boycott of RTÉ since 2011 following a radio sketch it branded "insensitive" about manager Mickey Harte, broadcast just months after his daughter Michaela was murdered on honeymoon.

Harte has not spoken to RTÉ since then and members of the Tyrone senior squad have backed his stance, although some retired players including 2017 captain Sean Cavanagh contribute to programmes as pundits.

RTÉ said it respects Tyrone GAA's decision and will continue planning its coverage of the men's senior football final on September 2 at Croke Park in Dublin.

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In a statement, the state broadcaster said: "Last week RTÉ Sport extended the same invitation to Tyrone GAA that it has to Dublin GAA, and all previous All-Ireland finalists, with regard to participation in RTÉ coverage across television, radio and digital platforms.

"This included pre-match, day of match at Croke Park, and post-match interviews.

"Tyrone GAA have informed RTÉ Sport that the Tyrone management and players do not wish to participate in any such media activity with RTÉ and we respect that decision.

"RTÉ Sport will now continue with its planning and preparation and we wish both Tyrone GAA and Dublin GAA the very best of luck in the final.

"We will be making no further comment on this issue."

The snub could significantly impact on RTÉ's many hours of programming which surround the All-Ireland final – a showpiece event in the sporting calendar.

RTÉ would usually broadcast live from the winners' banquet after the final, conducting interviews with management and players as well as presenting the 'man of the match' award.

Up For The Match, broadcast on RTÉ One the night before the game, is expected to continue as planned because no players or management would be involved.

However, the Tyrone boycott could deter some from taking part and impact on the variety of possible guests willing to represent the county during the show.

Tyrone's dispute with RTÉ began after a letter Harte wrote to the broadcaster about the absence of Brian Carthy from his role as a GAA commentator was leaked to the press.

In a statement at the time, Tyrone GAA said the portrayal of the leaked letter led to an RTÉ radio show airing a sketch which showed a "complete lack of sensitivity", citing the use of the song Pretty Little Girl from Omagh.

"We hope that this statement clarifies for the general public why Mickey Harte, his management team and the players have chosen not to co-operate with RTÉ at this time," it said.

This year is first time Tyrone has reached the All-Ireland final since the dispute began.

In 2016, Tyrone player Cathal McCarron came into apparent conflict with the boycott when he planned to appear on The Late Late Show to discuss his autobiography.

McCarron had insisted the interview, which was later cancelled by RTÉ, was "completely separate" from Tyrone GAA's stance.

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