RTÉ’s 2019 GAA coverage shifts further from football to hurling

Broadcaster’s 2019 schedule includes just five provincial football matches

RTÉ’s line-up of live televised GAA matches this summer reaffirms the clear shift in coverage to the more elite end of the championship and away from the smaller provincial football matches.

That further shift away from the football championship has RTÉ down to cover just five live matches across the four provincial championships, and only a single game outside the four provincial football finals - that being the Ulster football semi-final between Fermanagh/Donegal against Antrim/Tyrone/Derry on June 8th

It means All-Ireland champions Dublin, seeking a record fifth successive title, won’t be seen “live” on television until the Leinster football final, presuming of course they get that far.

Like last year, RTÉ are limited to just 31 games in total across hurling, football and camogie, and for 2019 will include nine Munster hurling games in the new round-robin format, plus three from Leinster.

Despite the revamped formats introduced last year - with eight extra football games in the Super 8 stage, plus the two round robin provincial hurling championships - the number of live TV matches was again left unchanged at 45.

RTÉ has exclusive rights to 25 games (31 in total), Sky another 14, with six more “shared”: the All-Ireland semi-finals and finals in both codes; this deal is in place until 2021 and isn’t expected to change until after that.

Sky’s sixth season of championship coverage on its pay-per-view platform, announced last week, also focuses more exclusively on hurling and the latter stages of the championship, while largely avoided the opening rounds of football across the four provinces, with the exception of the Cavan-Monaghan Ulster quarter-final on May 18th, plus the Mayo/New York against Roscommon/Leitrim Connacht semi-final on May 25th.

Last year was the first time since 2006 that Dublin’s opening game was not covered; this shift away from the provincial football championships is especially evident in Ulster, although BBC Northern Ireland does have the rights for deferred coverage on the BBC’s iPlayer.

The RTÉ live coverage begins on Sunday week, May 12th, with a Munster senior hurling double bill of Waterford against Clare from Walsh Park (throw-in 2pm) and Cork against Tipperary from Páirc Uí Chaoimh (throw-in 4pm).

RTÉ Radio 1 also has the full exclusive national coverage of every match in both hurling and football with commentaries featured on both Saturday Sport and Sunday Sport.

The live championship action on radio throws-in this Sunday with full live commentary on Sunday Sport of Mayo’s trip to New York to take on the hosts in Gaelic Park in the Connacht Senior Football Championship quarter-final; there will also be live reports from the day’s other Connacht Football quarter-final as London face Galway.

Despite the added games, new GAA director-general Tom Ryan last year confirmed the current TV deal was staying. "We're going to stick with the existing structure of things. We're happy with how the arrangement has worked up to now and we're not looking at changing the nuts and bolts of the arrangement until that comes up for renewal."

Last week, Sky announced three-time Kerry All Star and four-time All-Ireland winner Kieran Donaghy as the new addition to their broadcast team; Sky's exclusive coverage gets underway on Saturday May 11th when Brian Cody's Kilkenny take on Mattie Kenny's Dublin in the opening round of the Leinster Senior Hurling Championship in Nowlan Park.

RTÉ The Sunday Game live schedule 2019

May 12th
MSHC Waterford v Clare
MSHC Cork v Tipperary

May 19th
MSHC Tipperary v Waterford
MSHC Limerick v Cork

May 26th
LSHC Galway v Wexford

June 2nd
MSHC Waterford v Limerick
MSHC Clare v Tipperary

June 8th
USFC Fermanagh/Donegal v Antrim/Tyrone/Derry

June 9th
LSHC Kilkenny v Galway
MSHC Limerick v Clare

June 16th
MSHC Clare v Cork or Tipperary v Limerick
CSFC Connacht SFC Final

June 22nd
MSFC Munster Football Final

June 23rd
USFC Ulster Football Final
LSFC Leinster Football Final

June 30th
MSHC Munster Hurling Final
LSHC Leinster Hurling Final

July 7th
Football Qualifier Rd 4

July 13th
AISFC Quarter-final, Rd 1

July 14th
AISHC Quarter-final OR AISFC Quarter-final, Rd 1

July 21st
AISFC Quarter-final, Rd 2 (Croke Park)

July 27th
AISHC Semi-final

July 28th
AISHC Semi-Final

August 4th
2 x AISFC Quarter-final, Rd 3

August 10th
AISFC Semi-final

August 11th
AISFC Semi-final

August 17th
Camogie All Ireland semi-finals

August 18th

September 1st

September 8th
Camogie All-Ireland finals

Sky Sports 2019 GAA Championship Fixtures:

May 11th
Kilkenny v Dublin (LSHC)

May 18th
Cavan v Monaghan (USFC)

May 25th
Mayo/NY v Roscommon/Leitrim (CSFC)

June 8th
Cork v Waterford (MSHC)

June 15th
Leinster Hurling Championship (LSHC) X2

June 22nd
Football Qualifier Rd2

June 29th
Football Qualifier Rd 3
Football Qualifier Rd 3

July 6th
Football Qualifier Rd 4
Football Qualifier Rd 4

July 13th
SFC Quarter Final, Rd 1

July 20th
SFC Quarter Final, Rd 2 (Croke Park)
SFC Quarter Final, Rd 2 (Croke Park)

July 27th
All-Ireland Hurling Semi Final

July 28th
All Ireland Hurling Semi Final

August 3rd
SFC Quarter Final, Rd 3
SFC Quarter Final, Rd 3

August 10th
All-Ireland Football Semi Final

August 11th
All Ireland Football Semi Final

August 18th
All Ireland Hurling Final

September 1st
All Ireland Football Final

Ian O'Riordan

Ian O'Riordan

Ian O'Riordan is an Irish Times sports journalist writing on athletics