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There's A Simple Solution To One Of The Most Annoying Aspects Of Watching GAA On TV

There's A Simple Solution To One Of The Most Annoying Aspects Of Watching GAA On TV
PJ Browne
By PJ Browne
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An example of how crucial the kick out has become in Gaelic football came 17 minutes into Kerry and Mayo's semi-final replay. Such was the pressure which Kerry goalkeeper Brian Kelly felt from the Mayo hustle, he jabbed the ball out over his own goal line resulting in a 45. Kelly was nervous and the Mayo squeeze was the source of his anxiety.

Possession is becoming king in GAA and winning your own kick out is the most straightforward route to gaining it. In response, increasing numbers of teams are deploying a high press on the ball, adding a few hairpins to the road. Teams are ever more unwilling to allow opposition win an easy ball. This is especially noticeable following a free kick which allows the more efficient distribution of numbers.

Unfortunately for Kelly - though fortunately for TV viewers - RTÉ did show his mishap in real time. That was unlike seven other kick outs which were missed during the game due to action replays of scores being shown.

Kickouts and the pressure which takers and receivers find themselves under has become one of the most intriguing aspects of GAA. It will be a fascinating subplot in the All-Ireland final. Stephen Cluxton's rhythm has been occasionally disrupted in the past and Mayo will surely look to do so again.

The same goes for hurling. Even more so than football, puck outs are a launch pad for attacks. Missing these crucial restarts in both codes - especially if it's for a slow motion replay of a manager looking stern faced - has become one of the most annoying aspects of GAA coverage, and RTÉ are far from the only ones guilty. Other broadcasters should certainly sit in the dock too.

Kick outs are taken with ever increasing speed as teams look to match the example set by Stephen Cluxton. An umpire barely has time to raise his flag before Cluxton has the ball on a tee and then laser-guided or chipped into the arms of a man in blue.


The game which saw keepers take an age to retrieve a ball from behind the goal and then launch it into midfield with the type of boots worn by Peter Clohessy is long gone. Though, certainly when it comes to kick outs, it's still the game being covered.


There is a simple solution to this problem: use picture-in-picture footage of the kick out while the action replay in being shown.

TV viewers undoubtedly want to see replays of big moments in the game, such as Andy Moran's goal on Saturday. The move which ended with Moran's goal started directly from a kick out. Due to a replay of James O'Donoghue's point being shown, it was not until the ball was near the halfway line that viewers got to see the move unfolding.

A small box in the corner, perhaps even a split screen, could allow viewers experience both. This is hardly a novel idea. It's a mechanism used in numerous sports to show both live footage and either pre-recorded video or an action replay. RTÉ itself regularly show us split screen ads for a bookmaker during their horse racing coverage.


Though, it would be preferable if GAA coverage did not go down the route of the NBA by showing interviews with celebrities while a free throw is being taken. Daithí Ó Sé grilling a Rose of Tralee escort about his escapades while Cillian O'Connor steps up to take a free would be the Irish equivalent.

Football and hurling have evolved, coverage will have to do likewise. Tactical innovations will have to be met with broadcasting innovations which enhance the viewing experience.

Being at a game will always be the superior experience. Those fans who strive to acquire a ticket for the All-Ireland final but are unable to do so - and those will number in the tens of thousands - should not feel as though they are missing out on an aspect of the game which will prove crucial to the outcome.


See Also: Sean Cavanagh Perfectly Sums Up The Futility Of Trying To Compete With Dublin

See Also: Enda McGinley Critical Of Kerry Backroom Team Member's 'Crazy' Replay Behaviour



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