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A tribute to TG4

Between live games, deferred coverage and documentaries, TG4 are doing an incredible service to the GAA audience at home.

In the cold winter months and the early spring, the GAA action is at its busiest. The summer belongs to the Championship but the rest of the eight months are filled with club, college and the National Leagues. RTÉ bring us the summer action and we discover the team’s who claim Liam MacCarthy and Sam Maguire.

TG4 on the other hand are shut out from the Championship but their GAA coverage throughout the year is unparalleled. The Irish language station shines a light on not just the top inter-county stars but as evidenced in their new series Ár gclub, the club volunteers and players who try and improve their lot. Between live coverage, innovative new feature, streaming matches and their in depth documentaries, TG4 do so much for the GAA in Ireland and further afield.

Live Games

The announcement that RTÉ would show four live GAA games this spring was widely welcomed by GAA observers as many cannot view Eir Sport’s coverage. TG4 have consistently provided live games every Sunday alongside deferred coverage of two further games and a highlight show on a Monday.  Although some people, myself included, do not consider Irish a strong point, the ability to watch your county play on TV is more than enough for most. For supporters, being able to watch the games on TG4 is the highlight of many people’s weekend.

Their coverage of ladies football  has brought the game to the nation’s attention as the 2018 All-Ireland final between Dublin and Cork was viewed by an average of 179,000 people. In 2017, an average of 303,800 watched the Dubs defeat Mayo. TG4’s support was crucial in a record 50,141 people attending the 2018 final in Croke Park.

Innovative New Features

One of the biggest talking points from Kilkenny’s league final victory against Tipperary last year was the use of a small screen replay box while showing puck outs. This might seem small but with the growing emphasis on tactics, it is refreshing to be able to watch how both teams set up for a puckout.

TG4 decided to implement the change after Jason Forde scored a goal in the Premier County’s league semi-final victory against Limerick last spring. The goal was missed due to a replay of a previous score. There is nothing more frustrating for a GAA fan than missing live action but TG4 learned from their mistake and RTÉ may consider implementing this  to their coverage.

Another feature is the behind the goal shot of puckouts. Although this has been deployed by other stations, TG4 use it more frequently and it allows the viewers to see the players’ movement and a team’s puckout strategy. The station continues to develop and is constantly trying to improve the service they provide to GAA fans.

Live Streams 

The Galway-based station consistently provides live streams on their YouTube channel. They showed the O’Byrne Cup and Dr McKenna Cup finals while also streaming the finals of the Sigerson and Fitzgibbon Cups, after Electric Ireland streamed eight games across the two college competitions.

They broadcasted the All-Ireland Junior and Intermediate hurling and football finals which is an invaluable service for people living abroad who are not able to come home and would otherwise miss out on their club gracing the Croke Park turf.

The station will also stream the Gourmet Food Parlour O’Connor Cup final on Saturday March 9th as UCD, UCC, UL or Queens University, Belfast will be crowned champions. It is a fantastic service and one which is a great benefit to people all over the world.

In Depth Documentaries

The GAA is about much more than the players who take the field on the day of a game. It is the heart of the community, a place where people find refuge and it is also home to volunteers who invest countless hours in running, promoting and ensuring their club can continue to exist.

The struggles and joys of a modern GAA club has been encapsualted by the innovative new series Ár gClub, which visits An Ghaeltacht in Kerry, Na Piarsaigh in Galway, Na Dúnaibh in Donegal agus Kilmacud Crokes in Dublin. The series has provided a fantastic insight in to the running of a club and has proved to be a major hit with viewers.

The documentary series Laochra Gael has returned as this show allows the viewers to remember the great past and present players and takes us on a personal journey where we experience the highs and lows of their career. The programme with Andrew O’Shaughnessy, which airs on Wednesday 20th March, will be very informative as we follow a great Limerick hurlers’ career and his battle with Multiple Sclerosis. Th current series features a host of famous inter county starts from across the decades.

TG4 commits to producing as much live GAA coverage as possible and making it available to as many people as possible. In a time when money dominates discussions surrounding our national sport, it is refreshing to see TG4’s approach towards GAA. Long may it continue.

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