Richie Hogan says GAAGo has had a positive impact

Former Kilkenny hurler says the streaming service has broadcast games that would otherwise never have been televised

Richie Hogan believes there are far more positives than negatives to GAAGo.

The streaming service, jointly owned by the GAA and RTÉ, has been the subject of huge debate and sparked another political pile-on recently as politicians from all sides – including Taoiseach Simon Harris – weighed in with their tuppence worth.

Hogan is an analyst with GAAGo this year so it might be no surprise he has defended the service, but having worked as a commercial manager with the GAA and GPA for four years, the former Kilkenny hurler feels more than one broadcasting partner is required to cover the quantity of games in the calendar.

“For me, it is kind of quite simple,” says Hogan. “When I was growing up barely any games were on TV, you had a Leinster final, an All-Ireland semi-final, an All-Ireland final and maybe a league final.

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“If you think of the amount of sport that is on TV now, if you think about the amount of GAA in general that is on TV, between the under-20, minor, club championships, even the individual county championships are being televised, you just can’t cover every game with one broadcaster, that is pretty obvious.

“The fixtures issue is maybe something they can look at, stretch out those games a little bit longer and give a bit of time to breathe.

“One thing I would say about it is the access issue, which is not a GAA issue. It is more of a government issue with regards to internet around the country. Obviously, that will need to be a priority for everybody, but it has been a great service.”

One of the sticks used to beat GAAGo has been the selection of so many high-profile championship games – particularly Munster SHC fixtures – to be shown behind a paywall, rather than on free-to-air television.

But Hogan raises an interesting counterargument to that point.

“The recent Kilkenny-Carlow game would not have been covered by RTÉ and everybody knows that, that is the reality,” says Hogan.

“And what will happen if you get what people call the ‘main games’ on TV? You will just have Munster championship then, there will be no Leinster championship games on TV other than the Leinster final.

“You could decide to have the very biggest games on free-to-air and let GAAGo cover the ones that are less popular but then you are going to have people from Carlow and Wexford all having to pay to watch their games while people from Cork and Limerick get to watch their games for free, so how is that promoting hurling in those areas?

“It is a very complex issue but I know their hearts are in the right place in the GAA from a broadcasting point of view.

“You can’t run an organisation purely on volunteerism, you must have a sustainable commercial programme which includes broadcasting, sponsorship and fundraising at local level.

“We have one of the greatest sporting organisations in the world, it is not perfect but it is a hell of a lot better than it really should be, so I would be less harsh.”

Richie Hogan was speaking at the launch of the 2024 Electric Ireland Minor Championships

Gordon Manning

Gordon Manning

Gordon Manning is a sports journalist, specialising in Gaelic games, with The Irish Times