WHEN Queen Elizabeth, her husband Prince Philip and President Barack Obama visited Ireland recently it was interesting to note that they received gifts of hurley sticks. The presentations by GAA President Christy Cooney and Taoiseach Enda Kenny were splashed across all sections of the media at home and abroad.
Rarely has the old camán and hurling received so much international publicity! It is understandable that the GAA would present a hurley and sliothar to the Queen’s husband when they were visited Croke Park, but the presentation to President Obama was somewhat of a surprise.
Twice in the space of a couple of days Ireland’s ancient sport was cast into the limelight. Such publicity may not capture everyone’s imagination, but it did not go unnoticed in media outlets in the UK and the US judging by newspaper comments.
Ireland is well-known internationally for the quality of its arts and crafts and the workmanship of our many artists, yet here were two of the most powerful people in the world receiving gifts of hurleys to
So if the State thought that a hurley was an appropriate representation of Ireland, its culture and its people maybe it’s time they zero-rated the VAT on the camán.
We hear constant talk of the game’s demise, yet the statistics show that more people (men and women) than ever are playing the game.
I acknowledge that hurling is struggling in some parts of the country and promotional initiatives are essential in other areas, but rarely has there been so much excitement about a hurling championship as the one which has just commenced.
The view from all the experts is that the early games in the senior football championship have been a huge disappointment. Having seen a number of the games on TV it is hard to disagree.
Thankfully we saw some better contests last weekend. Surely the hurlers will serve up better fare in the weeks and months ahead!
While there is an onus on the GAA to promote and market its competitions, Gaelic games have featured sparingly on national radio and TV since the start of the year. TG4 is an honourable exception in this regard, but for the most part radio and TV sports programming has been largely a Gaelic games free zone over the past few months.
Yes, there have been occasional match commentaries and TV highlights, but for the most part Gaelic games coverage has been minimal when compared to the Champions League, the Premiership, Magners League and Heineken Cup competitions.
Plenty of interest
There is plenty of interest in those competitions and extensive coverage is understandable, but it now seems that Gaelic games only comes seriously on to the national radio and TV radar in mid-May and disappears again at the end of September.
It is good to see the Sunday Game and the nightly highlights back on air. This is must-see programming and RTE, with Michael Lyster and Des Cahill as the anchor men, do an excellent job.
Assuming those two hurleys had no difficulty getting past their respective customs officers, they will be an interesting addition to the paraphernalia in Buckingham Palace and the White House. For a few moments during those state visits hurling grabbed the media’s attention.
This was a clear case of any publicity being good publicity.