GAA

TG4's GAA Coverage Is An Amazing Achievement, And It's Time It Got The Respect It Deserves

TG4's GAA Coverage Is An Amazing Achievement, And It's Time It Got The Respect It Deserves

Here's the thing about the GAA.

Every week, once you know where to turn, you'll find the most important Sunday in somebody's life.

It's a brilliant simplicity.

That the GAA is important because, regardless of the occasion, it is important to someone. It matters because it matters. Ultimately, we are all shamed by the GAA man's obsession.

The Championship is officially over, extended as it had been to encompass an All-Ireland final of a tension so visceral it would slice through any blanket defence. And as the Dubs lit a city with their bliss, and Mayo trooped westward, burdened by the paradox that their unique torment is really just a type of information already shaping next year, it was easy to feel that the great thing had passed once again, dissipating into the autumnal air.

But here's the thing. It hasn't dissipated. It's just diffused. The returning Mayo and Dublin players are merely the last men to return to the game's remoter soul.

For ultimately, the GAA is about the club. If political dynasties are founded upon a thousand whispers, the GAA is built upon endless roars, shouts and screeches: men on the sideline who ought to know better as they ascend to octaves higher than their age or their cholesterol.

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Supporters who root for their club through the narrowed fingers of hands which have rooted the land.

And beneath this shouting exists the coverage.

TG4's GAA coverage is one of the finest achievements by any group of Irish people of the twenty-first century. With no GAA on RTE this weekend, TG4's work deserves to be recognised. Today they will have full coverage of hurling from two provinces, and will have covered most of the country by Christmas.

The games aren't always of the highest quality, and the pitches - especially at this time of the year - seem inherently suspicious towards the growth of grass. But there's a careless dignity to it all that makes it worthwhile.

At the moment, the Championships -football in particular -  feel suffocated by sheer repetition. Every year, you can predict with a decent level of accuracy what stories we'll be reading every year. In June, we'll hear plenty about Championship structures, particularly in relation to the Leinster Championship. There will be various, overarching and holistic alternatives proposed.

A Champions League-style format is a favourite here, despite the fact that the Champions League is currently doing its best to get away from the Champions League-style format.

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In July, we will continue to hear more about Championship structures, albeit with more straightforward and smaller solutions. For example, a county will lose a qualifier after a six-day turnaround. There will be calls for the six-day turnaround to be done away with.

We'll also hear an odd call for the end of the qualifiers because they're a very bad thing altogether now, until we realise that Clare are in an All-Ireland quarter-final and they're actually not too bad after all.

In August and September, with fewer teams left, attention will turn to the limits and characteristics of each team. Mayo's penchant for losing, Dublin's money and Donegal's style of play are usually bankers here. We'll hear of personal attacks, and then of attacks on personal attacks for being too personal.

We will also hear a lot in this time about a problem with the rules. This year, it's in relation to the presence of the black card. A previous problem was the absence of the black card.

But the club scene is free of this. It's almost oriental, and TG4's coverage is vital in this. It is like watching World Cups in the 1980s before the internet had taught you all about the opposition.

TG4 get out of the way, and show you the game.

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Even the name is simple: GAA Beo. Because many of us don't understand the words, we judge Brian Tyres's commentary by rhythm and tone: something TG4 have mastered.

In many cases, flick on TG4 on a Sunday afternoon and you will arrive at a game without being compromised by prior knowledge, and as a result, you can enjoy the game for what it is, and can appreciate the fact that, for an hour on a Sunday afternoon, the divide between parishes and clubs seem to represent the very boundaries of the world. Much of the Championship this year was ruined by pundits telling us how poor a spectacle it was.

But when did optics ever have anything to do with it?

It's not just the club game: they've done more for the Ladies' game than anyone, and have made Under-21 Championships a staple of the year.

RTE virtually ignore the fact that the GAA exists outside of the summer months, but that doesn't mean the rest of us should.

TG4's work, like the games they cover, go under-appreciated, but they're always there. And they always matter.

So let nobody tell you it's a year 'til Sunday.

It's only ever a week.

See Also: A Man Who Changed The Face Of Irish Sport Is Joining The Cork Hurlers

 

Gavin Cooney
Article written by
Changed the spelling of his name upon pressure from Michael Owen.

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