In his new role as Head of Sport at RTÉ, Declan McBennett has outlined certain changes he feels are necessary if the broadcaster's GAA coverage wants to compete at an optimum level. Having already communicated his desired changes to the RTÉ GAA analysts, it certainly seems like McBennett's introduction could bring about a much-needed breath of fresh air.
Speaking in a wide-ranging interview with Gaelic Life, McBennett was adamant that before all else, there will be "no personal attacks allowed" on players from now on.
A fairly regular feature of certain pundits' style when it comes to analysing a game, McBennett believes there are more pressing matters at hand:
They can be critical of formats, structures, tactics and systems but they can not be critical in a personalised way of individuals. I have no time for, nor will I tolerate, personal attacks on individuals.
McBennett has also emphasised the need for new analytical talent in the RTÉ studio. Citing the presence in studio of Michael Quinlivan, Cora Staunton, Shane McGrath, Derek McGrath and Michael Meehan in recent weeks, McBennett recognises that these younger pundits may have a better grasp on games that are "fundamentally different" to the styles of play practiced by some of RTÉ's more experienced pundits:
The principles are the same, it's still about putting the ball over the bar or in the net, but the tactical exchanges are now fundamentally different and we have to reflect that. On one particular Sunday we had 13 panellists covering GAA across TV, radio and online. All 13 were men and the average age was 53. That's not representative of the crowd at the match or the audience watching the match. If they have credibility, an informed opinion and they can articulate that opinion then I don't care if they are a man or a woman.
In what sounds like an incredibly positive move from the broadcaster's point of view, it shall be interesting to see whether those notable pundits seemingly not in Declan McBennett's plans have anything to say about these wholesale changes.