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Dublin: 12 °C Friday 21 November, 2014

Opinion: Railway Cup given no help to inspire support

Marketing a competition doesn’t stop at the throw-in. The GAA can encourage more interest by forcing better coverage from RTE.

Fans watch Connacht take on Ulster in Markievicz Park yesterday.
Fans watch Connacht take on Ulster in Markievicz Park yesterday.
Image: ©INPHO/James Crombie

MARKETING IS A difficult balance.

We are loathe to overhype a competition in this country, because the ‘hype’ stone is one which we love to throw in the direction of other sports.

We prefer to see Gaelic games as something which doesn’t need any advertisement.

It is something that should reside deep inside you, it should be felt in your waters, not read off a billboard.

If the GAA wish to effectively market the Railway Cup then, not only do they need to tempt people through the turnstiles before the throw-in,some modicum of control is also required post-match.

Generous estimates of the crowd watching 14 All-Ireland winners amongst the ranks of Munster and Leinster at Parnell Park was 800 people.

There was no blaming the foreign games this weekend, the main competitor of the M. Donnelly inter-provincial semi-finals was not the FA Cup – a deteriorating dinosaur of a tournament – but a vastly superior product with the same brand name played a day earlier.

Last night’s GAA highlights show on RTE, League Sunday, rightly gave Saturday’s All-Ireland club semi-finals top billing. However, surely the 27 minutes of comprehensive highlights, team line-ups and post match analysis could also have been afforded to the inter-pros.

After two years on the scrap heap the Railway Cup deserved to be given some sort of helping hand back onto it’s feet. Instead it was wedged in between the opening rounds of the league.

Worse still, no conditions appeared to be put in place as to the broadcasting of the revived competitions’ highlights. Program’s like League Sunday or The Sunday Game are the prime real estate to advertise any GAA competitions – they can speak for themselves.

No amount of flashing billboards or blaring advertisements can convince the average gael to trot along to a match which everyone on the street says will be rubbish. He must be able to see an objective view on the game for himself and only then will he decide on whether it’s worth a trip out into the cold and wet the following week.

RTE managed to squeeze their coverage of four M. Donnelly championship games into a 17 minute gloomy report focusing more on why the games do not work than the sport itself.

The talking heads harked back to the glory days, telling us all how much of an honour it is to represent your province.

We were then thrust into the middle of the Leinster and Munster match without a view of the team line-ups. Rather than commentary, Marty Morrissey spoke over the action which lasted less than a minute and half.

Obituary

It felt more like a reconstruction of a missing person’s last known movement. It should have been a celebration of some of the country’s best footballers.

The small ball was next up and John Kenny at least gave a more positive hue to the sight of hurling’s finest doing their thing. Yet we were still only treated to a few quick flashes of goals and points. No narrative to the game’s storyline, no chance to care.

There’s plenty of use bolting the stable door, the horse has not bolted, it’s barely been shod.

RTE need not ignore the problem of the low attendance, but if the GAA wishes to market this series and keep it alive next year then they should enact some controls over how it is presented. Make it a requirement of whoever broadcasts the games to give it a little room to breathe.

Pat Spillane spoke on air of the importance of marketing the tournament, but focused more on it’s ill timing.

No matter when these games were played, if they are followed by an obituary rather than a comprehensive highlights package, nobody can be expected to search the fixture list or their pockets ahead of the next instalment.

*Tell us what you think. Is the Railway Cup a viable competition, would you watch it under any circumstance? Or should it be scrapped altogether?

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