The Joe McDonagh Cup is shaping up to be a cracking competition. Hurling's second tier contains six developing counties committed to taking the next step. The competition bears relevance for the Liam McCarthy Cup too, as it offers a chance for teams to progress to the knock-out stages as well as promotion to next year's provincial championships.
The only issue is the coverage. Games aren't televised, the Sunday Game doesn't even read out the results and it becomes a stick used to counter arguments for a tiered football tournament: 'Sure look how ignored the weaker counties in hurling are.'
A highlights programme of Joe McDonagh, Christy Ring, Nicky Rackard and Lory Meagher games would be very welcome. RTE dont confine football coverage to just top 10 teams so why do they do it in hurling? #GAA #sundaygame
— Michael Bermingham (@mickdaabrick) May 20, 2018
Really disappointing to see such a small piece on the Joe McDonagh cup games over the weekend in one of our leading papers! These teams deserve more! pic.twitter.com/Pmvdk4Kihj
— Brian Carroll (@BrianCarroll13) May 7, 2018
Fresh from a disappointing result in the league final, Westmeath responded emphatically in the Championship and are clear at the top of the table with eight points. They played out a thriller in TEG Cusack Park today winning on a scoreline of 2-19 to 1-20.
Joe McDonagh Cup Round 4
What a win!!!!!
This is what hurling is all about.
A fantastic performance from all.
Great stuff lads!!!!
Full-Time@westmeath_gaa 2-19 @AontroimGAA 1-20#westmeathgaa #iarmhiabu #gaa #joemcdonaghcup
— Westmeath GAA (@westmeath_gaa) June 2, 2018
Westmeath have the longest-serving boss in the tournament with Michael Ryan, one of the best hurlers in the country in Tommy Doyle and a star at half-forward in Aonghus Clarke. It's just a shame the majority of the country are not afforded a chance to marvel at their ability. Yet today, Westmeath GAA decided to go something for hurling fans who couldn't be in Mullingar and live streamed the game on Facebook.
In the past figures like Buff Egan have also shown scores from Joe McDonagh games, streaming the scores from Kerry vs Carlow on social media. It shouldn't be neccessary, but credit should be forthcoming for the county for taking it upon themselves to broadcast the game.
Gaelic Games is the national sport and sports fans have an insatiable appetite for them. There is no doubt an extended highlights package programme would be popular and there are several broadcasters enthusiastic to cover it. The GAA will persist with this new module of increased games but they cannot continue with a televisions rights deal negotiated before the change in format.
Peter O’Halloran was Meath vice chairman for five years before he was elected chairman last year. Meath will be disappointed with their league performance, but the county is taking necessary measures to improve hurling. They've established a separate hurling chairman and head of development to ensure it is probably catered for and restructured their senior championship. When speaking to balls.ie earlier this year, his one concern was the lack of coverage.
Everyone knows the eight or ten stronger counties and the rest are somewhat ignored. When we were in 2B we wouldn't even have had our results read out. That can't be good for younger players, young lads that want to wear the green hurling jersey of Meath.
There are counties doing everything in their power to progress and develop the game, they deserve more than neglect.