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Lack of live coverage annoys Cunningham and Donnelly

19 January 2011; Paddy Cunningham, Antrim, in action against Kevin Duffin, Down. Barrett Sports Lighting Dr. McKenna Cup, Section C, Antrim v Down, Casement Park, Belfast, Co. Antrim. Picture credit: Oliver McVeigh / SPORTSFILE

Paddy Cunningham believes Antrim and Fermanagh don’t enjoy the same box-office draw as the rest of the counties in Ulster

PADDY Cunningham and Kieran Donnelly have expressed disappointment that Sunday’s Ulster SFC preliminary round clash between Antrim and Fermanagh will not be televised live by any broadcaster.

BBC NI will broadcast deferred coverage of the Ulster Championship opener at 7pm, but they are unable to show the match live under their current rights deal with RTE.

RTÉ and Sky Sports are permitted to show 45 championship matches, while the BBC are only able to broadcast live games from the Ulster Championship which have been selected to be shown live by RTÉ.

The BBC have secured the rights to show six of the eight Ulster Championship matches live this summer, including the final and all four quarter-final ties.

Nevertheless, it has come as something of a disappointment that Fermanagh and Antrim’s clash won’t be among them.

Former Antrim star Paddy Cunningham claimed that the two counties suffer in comparison with “the so-called bigger teams.”

He commented: “It’s probably due to the fact it’s Antrim and Fermanagh. If it had have been any other counties from Ulster involved I don’t think there’s any doubt that it would’ve been live on television. That’s just the nature of the beast – people want to see the so-called bigger teams.”

Kieran Donnelly, the former Fermanagh forward who was also part of Peter Canavan’s management team during his stint in charge of the Erne men commented:

“I think our games can’t be promoted enough. We have a great game, I feel strongly that all Ulster Championship matches should be streamed live.”

Meanwhile today, Culture Secretary John Whittingdale says that the BBC must put “distinctive content” at the heart of its coverage, as part of a major overhaul of how the organisation is run.

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