Next Saturday's eagerly awaited replay of the weekend's dramatic Galway-Kilkenny Leinster hurling semi-final will not be shown on television or streamed live. The news emerged yesterday when the fixture was finalised for O'Connor Park, Tullamore at 7pm.
As a result it will clash with the Ulster semi-final between Monaghan and Armagh, which is to be broadcast by Sky Sports. According to the GAA's Head of Media Relations Alan Milton, the association is not allowed to allocate television rights to matches, which take place at the same time as fixtures already scheduled to be broadcast.
“Contractually we’re obliged not to allow games go out in competition with others that are an agreed part of the schedules announced at the start of the championship,” said Milton.
A year ago exactly a similar situation arose when Kilkenny drew with Dublin at the same stage of the Leinster hurling championship and the replay was fixed for 7pm the following Saturday evening.
Although it wasn't televised either, it was streamed live on rte.ie, an option also exercised when Waterford and Cork drew in last month's Munster hurling quarter-final.
The difference in both cases is that RTÉ as the rights holder had the ability to webcast a match in competition with its own schedules. As Sky have the rights to Saturday's match, RTÉ won't under the terms of the rights agreement be allowed to compete with the Ulster match on television or internet platforms.
“It’s unfortunate,” said Milton, “but because of pressures on broadcasters and fixture makers at this time of the year replays can’t always be shown but if it’s at all possible we try to facilitate it.”
It is believed that Leinster Council did consult with RTÉ but because of a very busy diary on Saturday – the first of the World Cup knockout matches is on at 5pm whereas the Irish Derby from the Curragh is also being televised on Saturday evening – the only time at which the match could start and be screened was 2.30pm.
Neither Galway nor Kilkenny were happy with that, as it would inconvenience their supporters and the council was also mindful of the impact of match traffic on a Saturday afternoon in a provincial town.
The stakes for Galway and Kilkenny became clearer with yesterday's draw for the All-Ireland hurling qualifiers round one. The losers will have to travel to Thurles a week later to take on Tipperary.
Should that be Kilkenny, this would mean a sixth successive championship meeting between the counties after the All-Ireland finals of 2009-11, the All-Ireland semi-final 2012 and last year’s memorable qualifier encounter in Nowlan Park, all won by Kilkenny apart from the 2010 final
Galway haven’t faced Tipperary in the championship since that 2010 campaign and that year’s All-Ireland quarter-final, which Tipp won narrowly on the way to winning that year’s Liam MacCarthy Cup.
Kilkenny played their perennial rivals in the league final last month and beat them in extra time.
This match will also be shown by Sky Sports 3, as the station’s first qualifier selection. That station, according to figures supplied to
The Irish Times,
drew an average audience of 18,000 for last Saturday’s GAA Connacht football semi-final between Sligo and Galway.
That is the same as the audience that watched the Wexford-Dublin Leinster hurling semi-final, which was down from the 32,000 that tuned in for the first Sky broadcast at the start of the month, the Kilkenny-Offaly Leinster hurling quarter-final.
The figures are for Irish residential subscribers only – not including those watching in HD – and do not include those who watched the match in pubs or in Britain. Sunday’s broadcast of the Galway v Kilkenny draw on RTÉ One attracted an average audience of 329,000.
RTÉ will show the hurling qualifier between Clare and Wexford from Ennis earlier in the same day. This weekend's two hurling qualifiers see Laois travel to Waterford on Saturday and Offaly go to Ballycastle on Sunday to take on Antrim.
Finally Armagh have yet to lodge an appeal from the weekend's one-match suspensions handed down by the CHC to players Andy Mallon, Brendan Donaghy and Kieran Toner for the melee before the county's Ulster quarter-final against Cavan. It is thought, however, that they will do so.
Although the deadline for appeals isn't until Thursday, if the county wishes to exhaust its remedies – Central Appeals Committee and Disputes Resolution Authority – before Saturday evening's meeting with Monaghan, they won't want to hang around.