Sky Sports add Jim McGuinness and JJ Delaney to team

Broadcaster confident of increased viewing figures over new GAA championship season

 Jim McGuinness: “For me it’s a good opportunity to go on the other side.” Photo: Russell Pritchard/Presseye/Inpho

Jim McGuinness: “For me it’s a good opportunity to go on the other side.” Photo: Russell Pritchard/Presseye/Inpho

 

Sky Sports are confident they can increase the two million viewers, spread thinly over 21 (14 exclusive) live matches shown during the 2014 football and hurling championships, in the second of a three-year broadcast deal with the GAA.

“We believe we can build on that this season as viewers increasingly recognise our innovation and professionalism that we bring to our coverage,” said managing director of Sky Ireland, JD Buckley.

Sky have signed up former Donegal football manager Jim McGuinness and Kilkenny’s six-time All Star defender JJ Delaney while RTÉ have secured Henry Shefflin as a pundit.

“We believe we are giving GAA the Sky Sports treatment while preserving the integrity of our national games,” Buckley continued. “To do this we have put together a team of top class production and experienced analysts and commentators, also complimented by Irish on-screen talent.”

Buckley said RTÉ reacted last year to Sky’s entry into the Gaelic games market by copying the methods of the British satellite television company.

“Indeed imitation is the highest form of flattery. For the GAA viewer production quality has increased across the board. And indeed within weeks of our first broadcast it was notable that our competitors had introduced similar innovations in their coverage.”

A success

“So, has our partnership with the GAA been a success? Well, from a Sky perspective I can say a definite yes,”said Buckley.

“In terms of audiences, despite what some commentators suggest, results – which don’t include HD or Sky Go and out of home viewership – have been encouraging, meeting expectations for our first year across Ireland and the UK.”

Delaney, meanwhile, said he will pull no punches when it comes to commenting about former team-mates.

“You’re there to do a job,” said the 33-year-old. “If you try to bluff people, people will see right through that. It’s not about cutting the back off anyone, it’s about giving your honest opinion.”

Even about Brian Cody?

“But Brian is realistic as well, we soldiered with him so we know what he’s about, what he stands for and what he says in the media is actually what he stands for. He doesn’t hide behind anything, he doesn’t say anything in the training ground that he doesn’t say in public as well. Brian has nothing to hide either.”

McGuinness could be faced with a similar predicament come the Ulster semi-final on June 27th should his former Donegal players see off Tyrone then Armagh.

“I like the analytical side of it,” he said. “I like the opportunity to look at things and develop concepts and I think that is very similar to what Sky Sports have tried to do . . . For me it’s a good opportunity to go on the other side. I’ve often said nobody knows what’s going on behind a dressing room door. Pundits will have very strong opinions on certain things but you’ve got to be at the coal face to understand what’s really going on.

“So I’m hoping what I had in terms of experience I can bring to it but I will be learning as the summer goes along myself.”

McGuinness also confirmed his desire to advance his career as a soccer coach at Celtic FC. The 42-year-old is about to start his Uefa B coaching badge.

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