Michael Duignan has made many noteable contributions over the years as a pundit on 'The Sunday Game' but arguably none are more memorable than his criticism of the GAA's deal with Sky Sports.
At the time the current Offaly GAA Chairman branded the deal "disgraceful" as the 2017 All-Ireland senior hurling championship round 2 qualifier between Kilkenny and Waterford at Semple Stadium wasn’t available free-to-air.
No holding back. Michael Duignan has his say on the GAA's decision to sell rights to the GAA Championship to Sky Sports. #RTEGAA pic.twitter.com/Wgcz762kSg
— The Sunday Game (@TheSundayGame) July 9, 2017
Now six years on and while Sky Sports have exited the GAA TV rights landscape, GAAGO have entered the frey.
The streaming service is showing 38 championship games in 2023 and has already broadcast crunch Munster senior hurling championship games between Clare and Limerick and Cork and Tipperary in the past two weeks.
The fact that these big games have not been free-to-air has gathered criticism from many.
🗣"We didn't show that to the GAA public and I just think that is absolutely crazy"
📺Tom Dempsey outlines some of the downfalls with GAA Go
🗣"I don't think it's right, I'm really angry at depriving those people of the games"
Hurling w/ @BGEGAA pic.twitter.com/lduFm0tl3x
— Off The Ball (@offtheball) May 7, 2023
All the traditionalists went mad when Sky got the GAA rights (not accessible for all etc) yet I’m in a hotel in Meath for the weekend and they have no GAA GO in the bar (they have Sky). Some shambles!
— Darnell Parkinson (@ddparko) April 29, 2023
Hard to understand how the King’s coronation will get 4 hour’s of air time tomorrow on RTÉ but neither WexVDub or CorkVTipp will be shown.. our native game. Instead, it’ll cost €24 to watch both on GAAGO.
— Adam Nolan (@AdamNolan12) May 5, 2023
Writing in the Irish Mail on Sunday today Duignan writes that "more thought" should've gone into what games were selected to be shown on GAAGO.
He believes that Cork's thrilling draw with Tipperary on Saturday night should have been available free-to-air.
"This is the one I would say, go free to air," he says.
"Because of broadband issues, because it's box-office, because it's such a glamour hurling game that demands the biggest audience.
"The counter-argument is a commercial one - if you want people to sign up, you want to use the big games to drive subscriptions.
"But this is Cork-Tipp, a traditional game that people want to see all over the country. For me, it's not enough to say that's the way it was done under the Sky deal where the main Saturday games were often boxed off.
"The new media rights deal should allow new thinking."
However, Duignan admits that "times are changing" and feels that GAAGO is an attempt to meet the demand for matches to be broadcast across the country.
"In order to show more matches, somebody has to step into the breach. It requires money to do that, to cover the games to a certain standard," he says.
Duignan points to the fact that the season pass for GAA members means the price per game is around €2, while clubs can also get a subscription for €150 and pubs pay €300.
He also quotes the price of a Sky Sports subscription that rises to nearly €500 in its first full year without discounts, however that subscription offers far more than just GAA.
Michael Duignan praises GAAGO service
"I have seen first-hand in my role as Offaly chair that they (GAAGO) have been in touch with our PRO to provide a link for free access to nursing homes and care homes, which is a lovely touch.
"You have to say it's a great value package.
"The production is quality via RTÉ. In terms of analysis, you have a whole cast of past players who know what they're talking about. For that sort of product I don't think it's expensive, it's manageable for most people."
He appears to be more positive than negative about GAAGO overall.
"There are teething issues but overall, I think there are lots of positives to it," he writes.
"If we want more matches shown, we have to find a way."
Duignan's comments come as Munster championship crowds are expected to break records this season.
There's no doubt that his views will provoke discussion amongst those GAA fans attending games and watching from home across the country.