Famous Games

The first ever televised GAA match - Kerry Vs Dublin in 1962

by Weeshie Fogarty

In this paper last week our esteemed and exemplary GAA columnists Mickey "Ned" O Sullivan was asked by sports writer Kieran McCarthy. "Do you feel that GAA gets enough media coverage"? And the Kenmare man answered. "Yes, but the one aspect it fall down on is in relation to television coverage. I would like to see a situation where there are more live games on television".

And by pure coincidence also last week in this column I touched on the subject of GAA coverage in the national and local media. So do we have enough television coverage of our national games? You can be full sure that there are many who firmly believe that we have far too m much and that we should have more of Coronation Street, Emmerdale, Fools and Horses and Faulty Towers and anything but sports. Wanting to view sporting events on the box as opposed to other programme causes many the argument in many the home. I believe we can all vouch for this. There is a continuous flow of live games on TV from all over the world and indeed with the advent of Setanta Sports and T Na G the GAA is getting its fair share of coverage. We have a live game now every weekend and at times two live matches and yes we would love to see even more as Mickey pointed out.

It seems unreal now that there was a time in our lives when we did not have even one game on the box, in fact Gaa games were not televised in any shape or form up to 1962. Yes indeed 43 years ago the very first match was shown live from Croke Park and the younger generation of to-day will scarcely believe it when I say that. So I made it my business lately to as many Gaa enthusiasts as possible, when the very first match was televised live and out of fifteen polled just one got the right answer.

Yes indeed 1962 was the year, Croke Park was the venue and Kerry and Dublin were the teams. It was the Semi final of the All Ireland and the Kingdom turned in a magical display to thrill the first ever massive GAA TV audience however the crowd of  60, 396 was well below the record attendance at the time. In fact it was 11,177 below the record which was set at the previous year's semi-final between Kerry and down and was only the eleventh highest for an All Ireland Football semi-final. The blame game had started, TV would ruin our games, attendances would slump and live coverage should not be allowed, the media had a field day. How times have changed.

 But now I must add here that from my own point of view I find it difficult to appreciate that a whole generation of followers never knew what it felt like to rely on the electric wireless on its own and the magical voice of Michael o Heir to capture the excitement of Croke Park and when I write of events 43 years ago I still fail to understand that for many this is a long, long time ago. To me it seems like only yesterday
So how was the
First ever televised game perceived at the time. Well one scribe in the daily papers wrote of this historic event as follows. "Armchair viewers at yesterdays All Ireland senior football semi-final were treated to a splendid afternoon's entertainment. Having over the years watched all the major sporting events such as Wimbledon, the Grand national Rugby Internationals, Test Cricket and the Derby on BBC TV, I must say that I have never witnessed better picture coverage of any sporting event and Telefis Eireann are to be congratulated on their efforts.

The one slightly confusing aspect of a very well done job was the inter changing of commentators-one speaking in English for ten minutes and one speaking in Irish for tem minutes and so on. It is no anti nationalist vein that I suggest that a very large proportion of the viewers were slightly "at Sea" when the play was being described in Irish. It would have been more satisfactory if all the play was described in the English language and good summaries in Irish at the interval and at the conclusion. However it may be churlish to strike a slightly discordant note on a job so very well done. From the time the teams took the field all the pageantry of the big occasion was brilliantly captured by the cameras.

The parade of the teams, splendid crowd shots and the touching scene of stillness as the National Anthem was played brought "home" spectators almost inside Croke Park. I doubt if many of those present saw Kerry's cleverly maneuvered first goal as those watching in at home on the "box" and the despondency of Dublin followers when Kerry scored their second goal was graphically illustrated by a picture of four Dublin supporters sitting side by side. The merely kept looking gloomily from one to another without a word being spoken for the best part of a minute. One could go on picking out shots" of particular merit and if those who stay at home do not get quite the same "feel" of the event as those on the spot TV coverage as we saw it yesterday is certainly a very fine substitute for the actual thing and we should se more of it in the coming years".

Radio Kerry - The Voice of the Kingdom