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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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Glorious weather for Kerry County Coastal Rowing championships

It was a day of glorious sunshine yesterday (Sunday) as Flesk Valley Rowing Club hosted the 2022 Kerry County Coastal Rowing championships for the very first time in beautiful Castlelough […]

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It was a day of glorious sunshine yesterday (Sunday) as Flesk Valley Rowing Club hosted the 2022 Kerry County Coastal Rowing championships for the very first time in beautiful Castlelough Bay on Lough Lein.

Hundreds flocked to the Valley shore to see the coastal clubs of Kerry race in crews from Under 12 to Masters. As well as clubs from around the Ring of Kerry, there was a strong representation from the Killarney clubs with the Workmen, Commercials and Fossa wearing their colours with pride. The atmosphere, colour, fun and fierce competition produced a spectacular day that will live long in the memory.

The event was opened by the Councillor John O’Donoghue, vice chair of the Killarney Municipal District who congratulated Flesk Valley on their centenary, which occurred during 1920, and wished all of the clubs a successful day’s racing.

The first race was preceded by a special blessing of the boats by Fr Eugene McGillycuddy, who also remembered Brendan Teahan of Cromane Rowing Club in his prayers.

Afterwards John Fleming, chair of Flesk Valley, expressed his immense pride and satisfaction with the success of the regatta.

“It’s our first time ever hosting a regatta, but we wanted to do something special to mark our 102 years in existence,” he said.

“It was a lot of work, but we have a fantastic hard-working committee in Flesk Valley who really pulled out all the stops to make it happen, and we received fantastic support from our members, parents, other clubs and local businesses.”

John also thanked the Kerry Coastal Rowing Association, in particular Mary B Teahan and Andrew Wharton, and the staff of the Killarney National Park for all their support and encouragement in hosting this event.

This was a qualifying event and the Kerry clubs will be heading to Wexford next weekend to complete for honours at the All-Ireland Coastal Rowing Championships.

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Live referee mics should be the norm – swearing concerns be damned

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by Adam Moynihan

I was disappointed to learn that the GAA are preventing TG4 from using their live referee mic in this Sunday’s Wexford hurling final.

(And not just because I had already written an article saying how great live referee mics are and how they are sure to be implemented across the board. Ctrl + A. Delete.)

TG4’s GAA coverage is superb and they raised the bar once again when they mic’d up referee John O’Halloran for the Kerry hurling final between Causeway and Ballyduff.

Pinning a microphone on the referee is standard practice in televised rugby and judging by the positive response to Gaelic games’ first foray into this territory, I was expecting it to become the norm.

It still might but, explaining their decision to The 42, the GAA said that they were not aware beforehand of the ref mic being trialled in Stack Park on Sunday.

“They believe such a development will require more discussion and education if it is to be implemented on a more regular basis in live TV coverage and could possibly need a policy change,” Fintan O’Toole reported.

The image of the Association is surely the primary concern here.

Players and managers – usually the worst behaved participants when it comes to things like swearing – will be among those who get “educated” on the subject. Some verbal abuse that might otherwise be muted for television viewers will, in all likelihood, be picked up by the referee’s microphone. You would imagine that the teams involved will be reminded of this the week of a televised game.

It also makes sense from Croke Park’s point of view to speak to referees and give them guidance on how to conduct themselves when the mic is on.

In fact, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if senior GAA figures are currently fretting over the possibility of an agitated ref making headlines for something they say in the heat of the moment. And make no mistake about it, some match officials can eff and jeff with the best of them.

A friend of mine (a Wexford man, funnily enough) recalls an incident when a teammate was unceremoniously taken out of it by an opponent.

“Ah ref, for f***’s sake!” the victim complained.

“I gave you the f***ing free,” the referee replied. “What do you want me to do, slap him in the face with a wet fish?!”

The GAA might think that a referee swearing like that would leave all of us red-faced. In reality the clip would be a viral sensation and the general public would probably call for the official in question to run for Áras an Uachtárain. (He’d get my ****ing vote.)

The odd swear word from someone involved is bound to sneak through every now and then but you’d hear the same – and plenty more – at any match you attend from Cahersiveen to County Antrim.

Implementing the referee mic on a wider scale is a no-brainer as far as I’m concerned. It doesn’t appear to take a huge amount of effort or expense for the broadcaster to set it up and, more importantly, it offers a wonderful insight into the unknown.

Listening to referees explain their decisions in real time will clear a lot of things up for commentators, analysts and the media. We will no longer have to speculate about what they did or did not see, or what specific rule is being cited, or why.

Viewers, especially those who might be casual followers of the sport, will appreciate it too and become more educated; I know that’s how I feel when I watch rugby, for example.

It just leads to greater transparency and understanding.

Well done to TG4 and the Kerry County Board for being the pioneers. I’m sure others will follow their lead – as soon as the GAA allow them to do so.

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