Belfast Telegraph

Time GAA pundits woke up to life outside the elite

By Declan Bogue

It began midweek when some people picked up on the fact that the BBC were not screening last Sunday's Ulster Championship match from Brewster Park.

Immediately, the first thought was one of victimisation, rather than the vagaries of the BBC's screening rights, which state that they are only allowed to show matches that RTÉ are showing.

Still, the fact that the game was not televised left a sour taste in the mouth.

Then, there was the 'Off the Ball' sports chat show on Newstalk on Saturday.

Bear in mind that these guys have to fill hour upon hour talking about sports on the radio. That's just too much talk in the first place and has led to a three-month cycle where they basically end up repeating everything they have said and yet continue to react as if it was the first time they have been introduced to topics such as sports psychology, swing coaches, strength and conditioning and so on.

Still, even the dangers of brain freeze does not excuse the sporting snobbery indulged on Saturday when the presenter was running through the list of fixtures they would be covering, and came to Fermanagh against Antrim.

They would have former Mayo and Armagh footballer Billy Joe Padden there, though, they said with a chuckle, Billy certainly drew the short straw! Giggles! Snorting! Cackles!

It continued in one of the national newspapers, who loftily dismissed it as not one to get the blood stirring.

Another pundit refused to even answer the question of who might win the game during a recent chat night, preferring instead to snigger up his sleeve at the punishment that either Derry or Donegal were going to mete out in the resultant Ulster semi-final.

This is where we are at in coverage of Gaelic Games, when an obsession of the top half dozen teams has completely taken over.

This readiness to sneer and joke is not because of a genuine mirth reserved for players and teams that exist outside of Division One. Let's be honest, it exists because so many pundits, journalists and writers have no idea of the teams outside the glossily-packaged top 10 or so.

Fermanagh and Antrim produced a fantastic game, the most exciting so far.

Most would have derived more pleasure out of it than the abomination of a game that occurred seven days before it.

But please, stop hiding ignorance behind a cloak of indifference. You're fooling nobody.

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