GAA Football

Cahair O'Kane: Club game offers value for some fans but not all

Fans in Derry are getting better value than most, both in terms of admission prices and the cost of streaming games. Picture by Margaret McLaughlin

FAR changed are these days for supporters. Where once Sunday afternoons were home to all the big championship games, counties have adapted and adjusted to the ever-changing world around them.

There have been many turning points in that, not least the increasing availability of floodlighting that has allowed games to be stretched out long into the night.

In some cases that’s a good thing and in others, maybe not so much. Seeing the ball not thrown in last Friday night for Dromore’s clash with Killyclogher until just before 9.10pm was far from ideal.

Yet it has allowed weekends to stretch too. Counties can start on Thursday and play until Monday, filling half the week for action-hungry fans.

Covid brought enormous adjustments and in GAA terms, the big change was the rapid advancement in streaming services, both live and deferred.

From relying on traditional forms of media, the landscape is now unrecognisable two-and-a-half years later.

Eight of the nine counties in Ulster now offer live streaming of their games, to various degrees. Monaghan are the only exception.

The scale and depth of it varies two, as does the cost to supporters.

Derry’s service provides the best value for money, at just £35 for access to every football and hurling championship game. They don’t livestream as often as others, usually just one or two games per weekend, but all other games are filmed and uploaded, available to watch for anyone paying their annual fee.

Armagh’s service may look comparatively steep at £80 but by the end of this year’s championships, they will have live streamed over 50 games.

The Orchard county board made a conscious decision to reduce both ticket prices and the charge for live streams in 2022, setting the two at the same price as each other.

Tyrone came in for criticism last year over the cost of their county final stream and the fact that they turned down TG4’s offer to show the game live on TV.

For county boards, the income from that TV deal had begun to fall way short of what they could make online, and the GAA had little choice but to act, doubling the fee this year for counties allowing their games to be shown. Even that still wouldn’t match up in many cases.

Entry to Tyrone’s first round games was a very fair £6 given that it included three mouthwatering ties, with the streaming service costing £1 more than entry. That trend will continue up to the final, which is expected to cost supporters £15 for entry.

Tyrone are one of the six counties that don’t offer an online season pass.

They do have a season ticket to attend games, though at £120 it is easily the most expensive of its kind.

Armagh’s equivalent costs £80, with Derry’s priced at £70 and Fermanagh’s at £60. Donegal offer a ticket for the knockout stages only at €60 (£54, thanks to Liz Truss).

In terms of online annual passes, Derry, Armagh and Cavan are the only three giving their supporters that value. Cavan have a range of options, from €80 (£72) for the year to a €20 weekly pass.

Most counties prefer to sell their games individually, but Antrim and Down offer packages as and when they feel it’s the right time. Antrim offered their three football quarter-finals for £16 on one weekend.

Down will this weekend charge £7 for a single game, £10 for a double-header and £18 for a pass for the whole weekend, which for them often includes big Monday night fixtures.

The online option has become attractive but, as the marketing slogan goes, nothing beats being there.

Donegal’s county final admission is the steepest at €20 (£18), with Monaghan expected to match that, though theirs is unconfirmed.

Some counties haven’t set their prices that far in advances but it would take an enormous leap from, say, £8 for Antrim’s football semi-finals.

Antrim and Down have, in particular, attracted criticism for splitting their games up rather than playing them as double-headers. Anyone wanting to attend both semi-finals this weekend would have to be in Pairc Esler at 3pm for Warrenpoint v Loughinisland, and then have to hang about until 7.30pm and pay another £8 for Kilcoo v Mayobridge.

Derry, again, will have the cheapest county final in Ulster at £12. The earlier-than-expected leap to £10 for this weekend’s quarter-finals rather than for the semis as originally billed has raised some eyebrows but in general, Oak Leaf fans are getting a great deal both in person and online.

Armagh’s would match that only for theirs being a double-header of senior and intermediate games, meaning it will be £14 in on the day.

The Tyrone and Fermanagh finals will be £15 each, with Down likely to be in around that as well.

Everyone is conscious of every penny right now. The GAA has costs to meet but it also has to be conscious of not only current difficulties but the possibility of things getting worse in the very near future.

Right now things are generally fair and even.

Antrim
Admission prices
Final: Not set
Previous games: Football semi-finals £8; Hurling semi-finals £10
Season ticket: N/A
Streaming
Season pass: No season pass, occasional weekend passes eg £16 for three football quarter-finals
Per game: Same as match admission price

*

Armagh
Admission prices
Final: £14 (double-header)
Previous games: Round one £6 (single game) / £8 (double-header); Quarter-finals £8/£10; Semi-finals £10/£12
Season ticket: £80; Juvenile season ticket £5
Streaming
Season pass: £80, guaranteed 50+ live games
Per game: Same as match admission price

*

Cavan
Admission prices
Final: Unavailable
Previous games: Semi-finals €12
Season ticket: No information available
Streaming
Season pass: €80 (€20 weekly pass also available)
Per game: €8 per game

*

Derry
Admission prices
Final: £12
Previous games: Round one £6; Quarter-finals £10 (double-headers)
Season ticket: £70
Streaming
Season pass: £35 (up to two games per round live, all other games in full deferred)
Per game: £5 for semi-finals

*

Donegal
Admission prices
Final: €20 (£18)
Previous games: Round one £6; Quarter-finals £10 (double-headers)
Season ticket: €60 (knockout games only)
Streaming
Season pass: N/A
Per game: €7.50 (£7) from semi-finals on

*

Down
Admission prices
Final: Unavailable
Previous games: Round one £6; Quarter-finals £8
Season ticket: N/A
Streaming
Season pass: N/A
Per game: £8 per game; £14 Sunday bundle; £24 weekend pass (semi-finals)

*

Fermanagh
Admission prices
Final: £15
Previous games: Quarter-final £8; Semi-final £10
Season ticket: £60
Streaming
Season pass: £40
Per game: £7 quarter-final, £8 semi-final, £10 final

*

Monaghan
Admission prices
Final: €20 (to be confirmed)
Previous games: Semi-finals €15 (double-header)
Season ticket: N/A
Streaming
Season pass: N/A
Per game: N/A

*

Tyrone
Admission prices
Final: £15
Previous games: Quarter-finals £6 (single), £8 (double-header)
Season ticket: £120
Streaming
Season pass: Not offered
Per game: £7/9 for quarter-finals (£1 more than match entry)

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