is waiting to assess whether Sky's arrival into the pay-per-view GAA market leads to an uptake in subscriptions for their coverage of the Allianz leagues this spring.
The Irish broadcaster announced details of its coverage of the 2015 Allianz leagues at a launch in Belfast yesterday, with a total of 17 games – 12 football and five hurling – to be screened exclusively live on Setanta Ireland and Setanta 1 over the coming months.
Brian Quinn, marketing operations director at Setanta Sports, indicated Sky Sports' entry into the domestic GAA market last summer may have a positive impact on their business, with supporters becoming more accustomed to paying to watch Gaelic games.
“Sky’s coverage of the championship last year probably would have forced a lot of people to consider paying for GAA on TV for the first time, so maybe that will have a positive knock-on effect for us in the Allianz leagues,” he said.
“From our perspective it will be interesting to see if there is any impact in a positive way, but for the most part it’s business as usual for us.
“We’ve been covering these games for eight years so we’re quite keen to just put another good shift in.
Recently retired footballers Declan O’Sullivan,
will join ex-Mayo boss
as new football pundits, while former Clare and Dublin hurling manager Anthony Daly and retired Kilkenny star Brian Hogan head up their hurling coverage.
The plethora of retirements which ravaged inter-county panels over the winter had no impact on Monaghan, whose manager Malachy O’Rourke agreed a new three-year term in October.
Although they have a few players who’ve arrived at “veteran” status, the squad has remained resolutely intact ahead of their reintroduction to division one, which begins with an Ulster derby away to Tyrone on January 31st, being screened live on Setanta.
“Every year you go in thinking and hoping you can win something but I think it is more a sign that the boys that are there are enjoying their football,” said All Star forward Conor McManus.
“We have a few older guys like Owen Lennon, Dick Clerkin and Vinny Corey who are playing county football 12, 13, 15 years. After the rough patches we went through two or three years ago, we have had a fairly good last two years.
“When you are enjoying it and things are going relatively well and you are fit to play on then I suppose they are thinking ‘why not.’”
Setanta’s new football pundit, Rory Kavanagh, is the only retiree from All-Ireland runners-up Donegal. Team-mate Ryan McHugh, some 12 years his junior, believes the appointment of former All-Ireland winning assistant manager, Rory Gallagher, as Jim McGuinness’ successor helped convince some experienced players to stay on.
“Rory [Gallagher] has an unbelievable football brain and his training is good, said McHugh, who played club football under Gallagher for Kilcar last year.
“I know he is a Fermanagh man but Rory has a great passion for football in Donegal and he knows the players inside out.
“I think the boys knew what Rory was like which probably made it easier to come back. It might have been different with a completely new face coming in but it’s a matter of building and getting behind Rory now.
“Everyone wants to push on now and do what the Tyrones and Kerrys and Dublins have done and win another one and a few more Ulsters if we can.”
Donegal play Derry in another all-Ulster opening league tie next weekend, before a repeat of last year’s All-Ireland semi-final win over Dublin on February 7th, both will be screened live on Setanta Sports.