GAA Football

Games of this magnitude should be on RTÉ: Bonner

Donegal manager Declan Bonner. Picture by Seamus Loughran
From Cahair O'Kane in Letterkenny

DONEGAL boss Declan Bonner says he would like to see games of the “magnitude” of their weekend clash with Mayo shown on free-to-air TV.

The GAA yesterday confirmed that the Saturday evening tie would be shown exclusively on Sky Sports, with RTÉ showing the following day’s Tyrone v Dublin game.

Western rivals Donegal and Mayo are in a winner-takes-all encounter in Castlebar, the victors heading for the last four and the losers bound for a long winter.

The controversial Sky deal has come under fire again recently following a revelation that an average of 1,000 viewers in the UK, and a peak of just 2,000, watched their coverage of Donegal’s first Super 8s tie against Meath.

“The viewing figures aren’t there, but I’m sure somebody, somewhere is making money out of it,” said the Tír Chonaill manager yesterday.

“A match of that magnitude, you’d want to see on RTÉ, there’s no doubt about that.

“I’ve been in visiting people in nursing homes and hospitals over the last couple of weeks and they don’t have it on Sky. They’d like to see the game, but they don’t have the option now.

“That decision was made way above where I am. You’d like everyone to see it. It’s been a bone of contention, but the GAA have signed a deal with Sky and that’s not going away any time soon.

“This is a Sky game only. That’s part of the deal and they won’t let RTÉ in. We have a job to do in Castlebar and we don’t concern ourselves too much with that.

“It’s not ideal. There is a huge audience out there who will want to see the game on Saturday evening.”

Bonner also called for the GAA to look at spacing out the windows between matches at the tail end of the championship season.

A condensed calendar and the introduction of the Super 8s has led to a run of four games in five weeks for all four eventual semi-finalists, some of whom will have come straight off a run of qualifiers.

The winners of Sunday’s Dublin-Tyrone clash will be facing an All-Ireland semi-final just six days later, and Bonner believes it’s unfair on amateur players.

“It needs looked at. These are amateur sportsmen playing at a high level and it takes time to recover. A lot of them are back home late on a Sunday evening and go into work again on Monday morning.

“I believe we need two weeks of a gap. For the winners on Saturday night, there is only seven days for a semi-final. Something needs to be looked at because they have to recharge again.

“It’s a huge winner-takes-all match and we have to do all we can to get ready and prepare for it.”

Paddy McGrath and Neil McGee both missed the thrilling draw with Kerry in round two, while Hugh McFadden and Jason McGee were both forced off with knocks during the game.

Declining to go into the individual injury cases, Bonner simply said that with the exception of broken ankle victim Eoghan Bán Gallagher, the rest of his squad are “in contention”.

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