RTE’s coverage of the league is, to be fair, consistent. They’ve never given a shit about it and 2009 – 125th anniversary or not – is proving no different. We’d never have had any live TV coverage of the league at all had TG4 and Setanta not decided to provide it and, now that they do, all those lazy sods in Montrose do is use this content for their Sunday evening “highlights” programme.
So, yesterday evening we got highlights of the Kerry-Tyrone match (which had already been shown live earlier in the day on TG4), followed by the Galway-Dublin game (shown in full on TG4 earlier on, deferred coverage) and then the Cork-Tipp hurling match from the previous evening (which had been shown live on Setanta). The only bit of original content they came up with was, bizarrely, the Dublin-Galway NHL match but this can, of course, be explained by the fact that it (a) involved the Dubs and (b) it meant they’d only have to hop across the Eastlink to get to it.
Is it too much to expect our national broadcaster (whose continuing existence we’re all dragooned to support via our TV licence money) to get its corporate finger out and make at least a half-decent effort to cover the league? All they would have needed to do for last night’s show, for example, would have been to have cameras at Letterkenny and Ballinascreen for the other two Division 1 matches that were on over the weekend. Okay, okay, there were hurling matches on yesterday as well and it would be unreasonable to expect them to provide highlights of all of the Division 1 action in both codes but it would be reasonable to expect them to cover, say, half of the top tier games that were on. On normal league weekends, there are usually just four Division 1 matches being played and at least two of these are likely to have been broadcast live so it’s not asking a whole deal to expect them to cover the rest and, maybe, one or two of the Division 2 games as well.
For my money, I think they should concentrate on covering Division 1 as this would give teams more of an incentive to stay in the limelight. As things stand, the likes of the Dubs will always be in the limelight, even if they’re operating out of Division 4, whereas we could be playing our home matches this year in bloody Ulan Bator for all the difference it’ll make to those dopey fuckers in RTE.
As regards the stuff that was shown last night, a few incidents are worth highlighting. The first concerns Tyrone’s Ryan McMenamin who grabbed Paul Galvin by the balls and then proceeded to give the Finuge man’s vitals a good, hard squeeze. This all happened right beside the linesman and the ref wasn’t too far away either. And the result: a black book for Galvin! How McMenamin managed to avoid seeing yellow yesterday is beyond me.
The second relates to the Galway-Dublin game where two of the goals scored by the Tribesmen were highly dubious. The penalty decision was ridiculously soft, though it must be said that Mick Meehan put it away with no small measure of confidence. Galway’s third goal was, however, clearly illegal: Padraig Joyce fisted the ball to the inrushing Paul Conroy who dived towards it and palmed it with his open hand into the net. Time after time this kind of illegal score is allowed (I watched our 2006 match against the Dubs again before Christmas and couldn’t help but noting how Kevin McStay was warbling on about Jason Sherlock’s “great hands” when the latter had all but thrown the ball two-handedly into the net for their second goal) and I cannot recall ever seeing a ref penalise these obvious infractions. Maybe they should just change the rule book and be done with it.