Off The Fence

Off the Fence: 'Partitionist RTÉ treat Ulster disgracefully'

'SB North Antrim' was not happy with the national broadcaster’s ‘partitionist’ coverage of hurling. Picture by Hugh Russell.
Cahair O'Kane

RTÉ didn't do much to endear themselves up here when someone on The Late Late Show decided to take a bite out of the top of Ireland last Friday.

Not exactly flavour of the century in Tyrone as it is, their treatment of the north as the corner of a Rice Crispy square was taken badly.

Whether it was in the context of that or whether ‘S.B. North Belfast' has had this bee in his bonnet for a while, he was not happy with the national broadcaster's ‘partitionist' coverage of hurling.

“As an Ulster Gael I want to congratulate Galway on their fine All-Ireland success, they are a very good side and fully deserved their win. However watching RTÉ's coverage of the final, and hurling in general, one could be led to believe that the game is only played in 3 Irish provinces and not 4. The Sunday Game evening panel last week consisted of fellas from Connacht, Leinster and Munster and they all opined that 7 or 8 counties were now challenging and that hurling was "in a great state altogether". There wasn't one Ulster representative, there never is, on the programme, who was asked about their opinions on the game on the island or the perilous state of hurling in Antrim and Ulster. No Ulster hurling figure was asked to contribute towards the Sunday Game Player, or Team of the Year. Once again for the Southern media and hurling establishment, Antrim and Ulster are the distant relatives locked in the attic, ignored and just not talked about. It's just further vindication that some outside Ulster would rather we were not part of the GAA at all. Following on from Dublin's multi million Euro Croke Park grants it's more proof that partitionism is alive and well within the GAA and southern media. Two Associations now exist and Ulster is being treated disgracefully and shamefully. Consequently is it any wonder many young people in the North, from Nationalist areas, are walking away from the GAA and choosing soccer?”

CO'K: RTÉ are absolutely culpable when it comes to the lack of promotion of Ulster hurling. It is literally as if it doesn't exist.

A week on, the topic of Tyrone's loss to Dublin is still dominate much of the chat up here in the non-existent part of Ireland. ‘Johnny from Dungannon' was reacting to Sean Cavanagh in yesterday's paper, where he predicted the Dubs could win 8 of the next 10 All-Irelands.

“I was just reading Sean Cavanagh's reference that the Dublin team are the greatest team he's ever seen, or might ever play Gaelic football. I doubt he'd need to look back a wee bit further than that. The best team ever to play Gaelic football was the Kerry team in the 1970s, they won eight All-Irelands. As long as Dublin meet teams like Tyrone they'll win All-Irelands. There'll come the day that Kerry and Meath, strong teams that can play a bit of football, will be about and they'll not win as many as they think.”

CO'K: It's hard to compare teams from different generations but this Dublin team would hold its place in any company.

Regular caller ‘Frank' offered his backing to Mickey Harte, who was reappointed for another three years following a county committee meeting on Tuesday night.

”I see a lot of people trying to get Mickey Harte to not be the Tyrone manager any more, and I think that's wrong to do that. There's not a better manager in Ireland. We're the top team in Ulster now, which we weren't before Mickey came along. He needs all the Gaels in Tyrone to support him and the county board shouldn't be messing him about. He's given his life to Tyrone football and it's shame on them. Until Mickey Harte retires himself, he should be the manager of Tyrone.”

CO'K: I'm not sure I agree with the concept of going until he decides to retire, but certainly he should be allowed go until there are signs that his effectiveness is waning – and those signs have not been apparent in building a new team that's won back-to-back Ulster titles.

‘Eugene Daly' had praise for the measured analysis of the loss offered by Enda McGinley in his weekly column.

“Great article by Enda McGinley. Tyrone are not a bad team overnight.”

CO'K: A very wise man is Enda.

But one ‘Anonymous' caller wasn't impressed with the physique, or lack thereof, of the Tyrone forward division.

“Why is that we're one of the biggest counties in Ireland but every year we're heading down to Croke Park with one of the smallest forward lines in Ireland? It's hard to watch. It's getting to the stage of embarrassment, our wee forwards can't compete or stand on their feet. I think if Mickey Harte loves Tyrone so much, why doesn't he give some bigger men a chance? Or maybe it's time to move on and let somebody else have a wee go at it.”

CO'K: And when the big man can't catch the wee man to hit him, they ask ‘why play the big man?'

Lastly, we move on to the money. Sounding like he'd left his fresh copy of the paper down on the kitchen table and walked out to the hall and lifted the house phone, like they used to do before I was born (ahem), ‘Timmy' offered his thoughts on this week's Kicking Out.

“I was reading Cahair O'Kane's ‘Kicking Out' and I have to agree with everything he said. He was right, but he should have added in how Dublin are at a level that Leitrim, Fermanagh, Antrim, Louth, you name any other county, get up to that level? They don't have that type of money, so they're never going to attain that level. They're only amateurs. Dublin are so professional a team. Where do you go from there?”

CO'K: Indeed, dear Timmy. When this Mayo team fades over the next few years, they don't look to have the quality coming through to replace it. It'll be Dublin, Kerry and maybe Tyrone for the guts of the next decade.

‘Niall Ward' wasn't wholly in agreement.

“Some good points. It should be pointed out that the All-Ireland football & hurling finals are the only days there are no concession rates available for Croke Park. Every other day, U16s can get in for just €5.”

CO'K: There were concession tickets for the Champions League final. If a professional, multi-million pound, international sport can offer a discount for under-14s, the GAA has no excuse.

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