Gerard O’Kane: Glass half full in Derry

AFTER a two or three-week hiatus since both RTÉ and TG4 stopped showing live GAA, we are right back into it again. Since that time, all club action has been halted anyway hence both channels have been showing games from their archives over the last few weekends.

It will be interesting to see how this weekend’s action feeds into the whole club-versus-county divide. TG4 are showing a total of four live games and one deferred match with both RTÉ and Eir Sport showing a live match each.

Only a month ago, such live action from the club scene was enough to send people delirious with joy. GAA folk from all around the country were tuning into club games from different counties. One part of it was that we had been devoid of action for so long that even a bad match was welcome but for the most part the action itself was full of the drama and excitement that is only really matched with a knockout ‘Super Eights’ game or an All-Ireland semi-final or final.

People were able to connect with the whole parish element a bit more and no matter if they were backing anyone in the game or not, most were still enthralled and compelled to watch it on TV.

There will be at least 25 games or more given that both codes are starting up again at county level, so it will be wall-to-wall coverage as we have seen already on social media and print media regarding the fact that Jim McGuinness took the Galway senior footballers for a session on Sunday past. This alone formed the crux of Pádraic Joyce’s press conference on Monday, maybe taking away from the fact that Galway can wrap up a league title and take it back home to the West for the second year running after Mayo won it last year.

Details like this get people talking. We just hope that as we tune into the games over the weekend that we will continue to see the freshness that we saw during the club championships. They were broadcast live and showed the best that we have to offer.

While all these games are going ahead, they are all still at the mercy of Covid-19 and all the intricacies which it brings.

Look at Fermanagh and the predicament they are in. They only had 11 players fit to train last week.  They have 19 players who either tested positive or are in isolation due to being a close contact. Given they have one of the smallest pool of players as it is, surely something will have to be looked at to facilitate their game versus Clare.

It is the guts of four hours and 200 miles for Fermanagh to travel and the hotel in Clare has already cancelled the overnight accommodation. Dealing with the logistical side of things can be ever so difficult without trying to get 15 fit men on a pitch and then a subs bench to compliment this.

At the time of writing, there is a CCC meeting planned for Wednesday but I would be surprised if it is deemed the game must go head and if not Fermanagh have to forfeit. I would imagine even those in the Clare playing camp are not relishing the prospect of playing a team which has been ravaged by Covid-19 in the weeks preceding it.

While it is difficult there must be plans afoot in case something like this does occur. I suppose the common and overriding theme from a lot of people is ‘it wouldn’t happen if it was a Dublin or Kerry’.  While it is hard to judge on hypothetical situations I have to say there is probably an element of truth in there somewhere.

Closer to home I have to say I am looking forward to Derry playing Longford on Saturday afternoon.  For the sum of €5 it can be purchased to watch on a stream and I would say the added possibility of Conor Glass maybe making an appearance will add to the viewing figures.

I was reading that the night RTÉ screened the Cavan county final, which ended a draw, they had originally approached the Kerry County Board about showing their county final but they decided against it, instead the wanted to stream it.

It was said they could make more money off the stream than what RTÉ was offering them. I just happened to be in Dingle that weekend and aside from the nationwide publicity it was deemed a no-brainer due to one big factor – David Clifford.

At €10 per head, the streaming figures would amount to a considerable sum of cash for the Kerry County Board and I’d say GAAGO subscriptions in Derry this weekend will be higher than they normally might have been with rumours of Glass training in Owenbeg.  He is the type of dynamic, athletic, ball player that Derry have been lacking for a few years now.

At underage level he was a star and no doub his physicality was an advantage at that stage, but he had everything else in his locker to go with that so that when players around him did catch up he was still ahead of the rest of his peers in other ways.

I know for me it will be feet up on Saturday and Sunday with games coming thick and fast I am looking forward to what the weekend has to offer as we enter the darker evenings a winter championship could just be the tonic to get us through to the other side.

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