Irish Broadcaster Gary Moran on the success of Gaelic Football

UNESCO is pleased to make the audio and text of this interview available copyright-free for the celebration of World Radio Day 2018. Radio stations are especially encouraged to broadcast the interview, either in its totality or by extracting the answers and announcing the questions themselves.

UNESCO spoke to Mr Gary Moran, a broadcaster with RTE about what contributes to the success of Gaelic Football and how it can be a great example for those who believe in the power of traditional sports.

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Q  Can you please describe Gaelic Football to those who don’t know about it?

It is played on a very big pitch- a 130 meters long by 70 meters wide. The goal posts are more like rugby goal posts so two long posts and a cross bar. It’s played 15 a side. It’s the sort of a cross between elements of rugby, basketball and Australian rules football. Indeed, there is series every couple of years between the best of Australian rules football and Gaelic football – It’s called international rules. It’s only played one or two matches a year – every year, every second year. At a very basic level, there is a goalkeeper, defenders, midfielder- everybody can score.

Q. How much is the radio coverage for Gaelic Football?

Quite extensive! RTE here, the national broadcaster has got the exclusive rights for some of the competitions including the All-Ireland Championship and the national rights for the Club Competitions. We would do a a huge amount of Gaelic Football coverage during the summer which is when what’s called the championship culminates with All-Ireland final.  On the county basis, we do a lot of matches and right now, the 2nd tier competition which is called the National League and it happens earlier in the year- roughly February/March/April. This year, it is a little bit earlier but we do a lot of coverage on our Sunday afternoons and Saturday evenings with matches in the League, the number two competition and later stages the club championship. 

Q. How has Gaelic Football manage to stay so popular culturally and commercially despites the prevalence of sports like football and rugby?

I think because it is so embedded in the Irish culture to have these games. It is a place that Irish people can connect to, they can meet other Irish people, they can make contacts and they can play the bit of sports, have a bit of socializing. You mentioned football and rugby but quite often, the All-Ireland Football Final might be the most watched sport event and one of the most watched event on television of the entire year in Ireland. So, it is extremely popular in whole lot of ways.

 Q. What about women? Are they also included in Gaelic Football?

Well they play Gaelic football for sure and rules are very similar. There Is an All-Ireland Club championship and there is an All-Ireland Inter County Championship similar to men’s in that aspect. I brought my daughter to All Ireland Ladies’ Football final last September and they had a new record created at 45000. So you can see, it’s a bit more popular. It is getting a bit more television coverage and more reporting. It is growing in terms of coverage – both in traditional media, radio broadcasting, newspapers, online and so forth; but definitely not at the level of men’s coverage.

Q. When you say there is more coverage, and I know it is difficult, but how you would quantify it? Where do we stand?

The level of broadcasting coverage, newspapers coverage, online coverage, I have to say that still the women’s coverage is quite low. I would not put it at even 20%.

Q. What else can be done to ensure more coverage to women’s team in Gaelic Football?

People need to; I suppose identify with the players and with their counties and get their supporters to counties but may be not going to do that until there is more coverage. Everybody knows who Ronaldo is, who Messi is, who the local heroes on their own teams are. Recognize names, recognize teams, know this team won this last year, this team won two years ago, this team have won five finals in a row. Slowly but surely that’s happening.