Lights, camera, action!
BY GRAHAM CLIFFORD
THE NEW decade couldn’t have started any brighter for British GAA.
Just over two months after TG4 broadcast highlights of the Inter-provincial Championship final between Ulster and Munster from Ruislip, the broadcaster’s cameras will return to the English capital at the end of this month.
The All-Ireland Senior Football Championship quarterfinal clash between Greenford’s Tir Chonaill Gaels and Clare’s Kilmurry Ibrickane will be shown live across Ireland, the first time ever that a competitive club game held abroad will have been broadcast live.
While highlights of London’s Connacht Championship clashes are shown on RTé, never before has a competitive game from Britain been shown live and Ronan ó Coisdealbha, sports editor with TG4, says the decision to cover the game has much to do with Tir Chonaill Gaels’ growing pedigree.
“The fact that Tir Chonaill Gaels have won three County Championships in a row was certainly a consideration but as well as that there were other factors at play,” said ó Coisdealbha.
“TG4 has rights to the AIB Club Championships and after showing many of the county and provincial championship games from across Ireland we thought it made sense to broadcast this one as well.”
Any hopes that TG4 could possibly broadcast London’s Connacht Championship clash with Roscommon in May were dashed this week though with TG4 confirming: “The rights for the All-Ireland Senior Football Championships are owned by RTé so that’s a matter for them and for Croke Park.We will not be covering the London game.”
The televised game will be great for the profile of TCG according to the club’s chairman Tom Mohan.
He said: “It’s great to think that we will be involved in the first ever televised competitive All-Ireland Club Championship game from abroad. For the family and friends of the players from Ireland and for those who used to be involved with the club but have since returned home it’s especially exciting.
“It will of course provide a great buzz but we’re concentrating on getting the right result. Kilmurry Ibrickane may not be as high-profile as the likes of Crossmaglen Rangers or Corofin but they’re still the pick of Munster and it will be a massive challenge for us.”
The Irish Post has learned that bookmaking giants Ladbrokes played a role in getting the game shown on Irish television. The company sponsor Tir Chonaill Gaels and have given odds of 11/2 on a victory for the London club while you can get the Clare champions at 1/8.
It won’t be the first time that TG4 will have shown a game featuring Tir Chonaill Gaels. In December of 2008 the club was involved in RTE’s Celebrity Bainisteoir programme when the club — under the novel management of comedian Patrick Kielty — beat a side led by RTé veteran Marty Whelan.
The Chairman of the London County Board Tommy Harrell said the game will put GAA in Britain “in the shop window”.
He said: “We have a lot of work to do to get our house in order to broadcast the game, but we are looking forward to that challenge and hopefully we can deliver on the day.”
Paying tribute to TCG and the organisation within the club, Harrell added: “The one thing about Tir Chonaill Gaels over the last couple of years is that they have taken a very professional and a serious approach. They have had some tremendous battles in All-Ireland quarter-finals.”
Kilmurry Ibrickane caused a mini upset when they defeated Kerry’s Kerins O’Rahillys by 0-7 to 0-6 in last month’s Munster final and with good recent form in the All-Ireland Club Championship they will expect to progress to an All-Ireland semi-final.
No London club has ever won a last-eight clash in the competition and so on a historic afternoon in Ruislip, Tir Chonaill Gaels will be hoping to break Clare hearts in front of the cameras.
TG4 has yet to confirm if live coverage of the annual AllIreland Senior Club Football quarter-final from Ruislip will remain for the coming years. The station made history in 2009 when they broadcast the Senior Football County final in Wicklow.
It meant since GAA was first screened live on the channel in 1999, it has given full match coverage to club finals from all 32 counties.
Also of course it covered the Interprovincial hurling final in Abu Dhabi last year and the football equivalent in Ruislip last November.