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Kerry GAA fans deserve more than dead air

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Kerry GAA came under fire last Saturday night when technical difficulties with their county final livestream left thousands of viewers staring at a blank screen.

As had been the case in previous rounds, supporters were invited to purchase the stream for the big match between East Kerry and Mid Kerry via 247.tv, this time at a cost of €10.

Anticipation was high but things quickly turned sour when the stream crashed midway through the first half, prompting scores of supporters to take to Twitter and vent their frustration. Among other things, the stream was branded a “joke”, “shocking” and a “disgrace”, and many viewers demanded a refund.

One fan commented: “Full cash refund please. Service not of merchantable quality or fit for purpose. Let me know where I can send on my bank details for the full cash refund. Sale of Goods and Supply of Services Act 1980.”

The tweeter went on to express his gratitude to his former business studies teacher, Mike Leahy, who schooled him on his consumer rights when he was a first year student at St Brendan’s College.

A Kerry GAA tweet which contained the link to the stream received 78 replies in total, almost all of which were complaints. The tweet got just three RTs and 19 likes, and two of the RTs were also complaints.

It was a ratio that would make any social media manager break out in a cold sweat.

GRIEVANCES

The grievances naturally centred around the drop in coverage, but in reality much of the dismay actually stemmed from the fact that this was not the first time a Kerry GAA livestream had failed.

Previous broadcasts were also beset by technical difficulties, perhaps most notably the quarter-final tie between Mid Kerry and Kenmare Shamrocks, which cut out in stoppage time as Kenmare were probing for a championship-saving equaliser.

Calls for refunds were ignored then, with Kerry GAA stating that the technical issues were unavoidable and, ultimately, not their fault.

Saturday evening’s stream came back on after a matter of minutes but even when it was back working, viewers had another complaint to make. One fan noted that the on-screen scoreboard was incorrect. Upon reviewing the video it was found that the score failed to update on three separate occasions, which meant that viewers were looking at the wrong score for six minutes in total.

FINANCIAL REASONS

What made last weekend’s debacle even more maddening for supporters is the fact that the state broadcaster, RTÉ, had offered to show the county final on free-to-air television. As was reported in The Kerryman, RTÉ would have paid Kerry GAA a substantial fee for the rights to the game but Chairman Tim Murphy confirmed that they had rejected the bid for financial reasons.

“From our perspective, what we would get from terrestrial TV would in no way come close to what we would hope to get out of the streaming,” he said.

This was the second year in a row that Kerry GAA turned down a national broadcaster. TG4 were keen to show last year’s final between East Kerry and Dr Crokes but the County Board decided that they would make more money from match tickets if the game was not aired on TV.

That may well have been true, but the decision proved controversial as it prevented many people who were, for whatever reason, unable to travel to Tralee that day from seeing one of the biggest games in living memory.

DISAPPOINTED

To be honest, I have to say that personally I have been a little disappointed with Kerry GAA’s response to this latest controversy. None of the online complaints were addressed over the weekend, no explanation was provided, and, at the time of going to print, no apology was forthcoming.

In fact, the only person who received a reply on Saturday night was the one observer who praised the “very enjoyable @Kerry_Official county football final livestream”. Kerry GAA quote retweeted the comment, thanking the man in question, so all of their 65.8k followers could see his positive feedback.

Understandably, this only agitated people further.

This week I reached out to the County Board to see if they would be making any statement regarding the stream but they declined to comment.

The only matter they would be drawn on was the one concerning season ticket holders who are unhappy with having to pay for livestreams (the passes they bought at the start of the year would have covered their admission if spectators were permitted to attend).

A number of these fans had asked me to follow up on this issue as they were unhappy with the response (or lack thereof) they had received from the County Board and from the GAA, but this week I was told that concerned season ticket holders can contact Kerry GAA directly.

(UPDATE: Yesterday the County Board offered season ticket holders a “free pass” to watch the upcoming livestreams of the Junior and Intermediate semi-finals and finals, starting this weekend with Ballydonoghue v Brosna and Gneeveguilla v Fossa. This appears to have done little to assuage the fans, who have already paid for the privilege of watching the two biggest competitions, the Senior Club and County Championships, from start to finish.)

 

https://twitter.com/frankky88/status/1311671868722733058?s=20

 

REFUND

While I understand that it is a big ask to give everyone a refund when in this case the disgruntled customers may well number in the double-digit thousands, it is not unheard of for county boards to do so. As recently as September 5, Mayo GAA handed out refunds after their livestream of the county semi-final crashed. They even went one step further by putting on the following day’s matches (the other county semi-final and an intermediate semi-final) for free.

Last year, Tyrone GAA also refunded fans when their county final coverage experienced technical difficulties.

No one wants to see Kerry GAA losing out on any sum of money. The pandemic has made it a difficult year for the GAA financially and they obviously want to bring in as much money as possible.

A lot of work has gone into the streaming project and by and large it has been a great addition. The County Board deserve our gratitude for that.

But we must also think of the supporters. Over the past few months, the county’s most loyal football fans (who have also had to deal with the pandemic, remember) have forked out a considerable sum of money for access to a service. Unfortunately – and this much is undeniable – the service hasn’t always worked as it should have (Saturday’s final being a case in point).

The ‘refund’ option might be an unpalatable one for the County Board, but these fans deserve something. They certainly deserve more than just dead air.

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Fleming and Doherty top Killarney crew at Boggeragh

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The Boggeragh Rallysprint, organised by Cork Motor Club and based in the forest complex of the same name, took place over the Christmas break.

Based near the village of Nad, the event attracted a strong 60-plus car entry and was won by West Cork driver David Guest and his Millstreet co-driver Liam Moynihan in a Ford Fiesta Rally 2. The latter is a member of Killarney and District Motor Club.

The first all-Killarney crew to make the finish were David Fleming and Kieran Doherty in their Honda Civic. The Killarney-based crew finished 20th overall on what was only their second time competing on a gravel rally.

World Rally Championship launch

The new Ford Puma Rally1 Hybrid that Craig Breen and Paul Nagle will drive in this year’s World Rally Championship is set to be unveiled on Saturday in Austria.

The World Rally Championship will undergo major environmental changes this year when new technical regulations drive the series towards a more sustainable future.

The season launch takes place at Red Bull’s headquarters near Salzburg ahead of the first round of the WRC, next week’s Rallye Monte Carlo, as a new era for the sport dawns.

Breen and Nagle will be in attendance and the launch will be live streamed on WRC.com

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Killarney Valley athletes rubbing shoulders with the best

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Killarney Valley AC continued their upward curve last Sunday when they entered men’s and women’s teams in the prestigious National Indoor Track and Field Championships, which were held in Abbotstown in Dublin.

Despite going up against the best of the best in terms of Irish athletics, the Killarney Valley contingent gave a good account of themselves at the state-of-the-art National Indoor Arena, with coaches Tomás Griffin and Con Lynch coming away with plenty of positives to reflect upon.

The women’s team was comprised of Sarah Leahy, Ciara Kennelly, Alison Butler, Grace O’Meara, Ellen Moloney and Melissa Ahern, while the men’s team included Conor Gammell, Oisín Lynch, Kevin O’Callaghan, Sam Griffin, Jason O’Reilly, Dara Looney and Darragh O’Leary.

The nature of the team event presents a number of challenges and opportunities for the forward-thinking club, as coach Tomás Griffin explained to the Killarney Advertiser this week.

“The indoor league is senior elite level so you’re competing against really strong athletes, including some Olympians,” Griffin said. “Part of the criteria is that you try to cover as many of the events as you possibly can within all of the athletic disciplines. You compete as a team, as opposed to normal athletics competitions which are very much based on the individual.

“If you are 16 or you turn 16 in the year of competition, you can participate. That allows us to give our up-and-coming athletes the opportunity to compete as part of a representative team alongside our more established, older athletes.

“There are two rounds with half the events in all disciplines covered in Round 1 and the other half in Round 2. Last week in Round 1 the track events were the 50m sprint, the 200m sprint, and the 800m, along with the 4 x 400m relay. So, for those events alone, you have to have sprinters and you have to have middle distance athletes all stepping up to compete against one representative from all the other clubs.

“The field events were the shot putt, the long jump, and the pole vault. You can see there you’ve got to have a pretty diverse club that is trying to focus on as many disciplines as possible on the development sides of things.”

POINTS

Individual athletes earn points based on where they finish in their event (12 points for first etc.), with points tallied together to make up the team’s overall total. There are 12 clubs vying for the women’s title and 13 fighting for the men’s. After Round 2, which takes place on January 23 in Athlone, the top six clubs will advance to the finals.

The demands that such a competition place on a club mean that it is a major achievement to be able to take part at all. Apart from Killarney Valley, Leevale AC from Cork were the only other club in Munster who fielded a team.

“For us to have enough athletes of that age or above, that are competent enough in their disciplines to be able to represent us and compete – and score – is a significant breakthrough. We scored quite well across some of the events. There were some events that we struggled to cover because we’re still trying to develop the full range, but as a club we know that we need to develop those disciplines.

“And we have some younger athletes who are 13 or 14 and they’re now learning pole vault, for instance. If we can maintain the momentum then we will have pole vaulters in a couple of years’ time.”

ENJOYMENT

Griffin says the Killarney Valley competitors really enjoyed the experience, while also putting in some impressive performances.

“They loved it. The bigger powerhouse clubs have very high-profile athletes at their disposal; there were four Olympians whom our athletes got to compete against and interact with.

“Our own Sarah Leahy did exceptionally well in the 60m sprint. She ran the joint fastest time in the league, a personal best of 7.61 seconds, which is the fastest she has ever run 60m indoors.

“In the men’s 60m sprint, Conor Gammell made the top five and ran a personal best. We also had Sam Griffin, who is normally a long jumper, who ran a personal best of 7.58 seconds. He finished third in his race. Dara Looney, another long jumper who was doubling up on sprints, finished fifth and also had a personal best.

“Melissa Ahern, an up-and coming sprinter, ran 8.43 seconds, and Ellen Moloney, who was a first-timer at this level, ran a personal best as well. We have a good batch of sprinters competing and it’s good to expose them to this level.

“Alison Butler scored some valuable points for us in the 800m, and in the men’s 800 Oisín Lynch ran a massive personal best. Our shot putt thrower Kevin O’Callaghan is new to athletics; he had to throw an adult shot (7.2kg) for the first time and he did well, scoring five points for us. In fact, he threw the heavier weight nearly as far as he had been throwing the lighter weight.”

Griffin was keen to stress the importance of each individual team member to the overall group effort and whatever happens in Round 2, he is convinced that entering the competition will have huge benefits in the long run.

“We set ourselves of goal of having a team at National League level by 2023 so we’re a year ahead in that regard. It shows that we’re on the right trajectory.”

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