"We must be all mad" - Brennan and GAA fans disappointed in Kilkenny as Community Radio sidelined 1 year ago

"We must be all mad" - Brennan and GAA fans disappointed in Kilkenny as Community Radio sidelined

There was a public outcry in Kilkenny during the week, when it was announced that Community Radio Kilkenny City would no longer be allowed to commentate on GAA games.

Because the real loser in this, it does seem, is the ordinary GAA fan in Kilkenny.

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The development had been mooted in recent times but now it's come to pass. The Independent Broadcasters of Ireland (IBI) and the GAA have, between them, struck up a deal which gives the commercial radio station in each county, not just in county Kilkenny, exclusive commentary rights on all GAA games.

The commercial radio station in Kilkenny is KCLR but as the reaction to this news has shown, the leading radio station in Kilkenny, when it comes to local GAA coverage, is CRKC.

Community Radio in Kilkenny is ran by volunteers and as a station that goes to club games, underage games, school games you name it, they voiced their disappointment in a statement during the week.

"It is worth noting that Community Radio Kilkenny City was often the only Kilkenny broadcast media outlet at many games," read the statement, which was shared far and wide.

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Former president of the GAA Nickey Brennan is one of the station's main men and he told us about the station, the work they've been doing and ultimately, their disappointment at this week's news.

"We must be all f*cking mad," said the Conahy Shamrocks club man.

"No-one gets paid, there's around 70 volunteers. I've been dabbling in this for years. It's always been a hobby of mine and it keeps me out of harms' way!

"I wouldn't consider myself a great commentator but what the hell, you get the message across, and even though this development is very disappointing, we'll still get the message across."

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8 July 2022; Former Uachtarán Chumann Lúthchleas Gael Nickey Brennan before the GAA Football All-Ireland Junior Championship Semi-Final match between Kilkenny and London at the GAA National Games Development Centre in Abbotstown, Dublin. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

"We kind of saw it coming in a way," he reflects.

"The disappointing thing was that we had made representations to Croke Park for community radios to be considered in the new contract.

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"And it was from KCLR that we had discovered the contract had been signed when they issued us with a diktat that we couldn't cover the matches that they were covering last weekend. Even though we'd probably do about ten times more coverage of matches than they would now.

"Look, from an inter-county point of view, it's not the be-all and end-all for us, we'll still go to matches, we can send reports on after the match and we can do post-match interviews and that really is enough for us, but having said that, KCLR missed some of Kilkenny's minor and under-20 matches, they missed them, we were at them all.

"Take the All-Ireland junior football final against New York this year. If you knew the history of football in Kilkenny, that was a big deal for a lot of football people down here because they had a tsunami against them, not an ordinary tide, trying to keep football going through the year. So for many of them families, trying to win that, it was a great, great day. KCLR weren't near Croke Park that day."

"But the club scene is the big one for us," the former Kilkenny hurler and manager says.

"It's alright this time of the year because the competitions are all wrapping up and they'll be at the knock-out games but when it comes to the start of the championship any year, they will not be seen.

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"And this includes underage games, which is disappointing. It will include under-21 games at the end of this year too so let's see what they'll do there. It's a strange decision blocking someone from covering games no-one will get to hear."

But as Brennan says, even without live commentary rights, there's life in the station yet.

"And I don't want to be knocking them down because I can talk to those guys okay but look it is disappointing. We'll still be at all the matches, we'll do reports for Sunday evenings. We'll have interviews as well and we'll have more reports on Monday evening. It's a bit of a pain that we can't have commentaries but such is life.

"But the interesting thing about it, worth noting," he continues, "is that the championship sponsors for the three competitions are sticking with us for the man-of-the-match awards. So I think that says something, even though we won't be broadcasting live.

"We'll be alright," he says, "we'll be alright."