It’s time the GAA got with the programme

The team line-ups being checked prior to the throw-in at Fitzgerald Stadium


To note that the content of the official match programme for the Kerry v Mayo game raised a few eyebrows might be something of an understatement.

No Kerry or Mayo player profiles, no interviews with some of the key personalities involved, no chats with the two managers, no input from players or selectors, no news from the respective camps, no content from local observers and no room even for the usual pen-pic profiles discovering a player’s favourite television programme, their toughest opponent and outlining why The Shawshank Redemption is their favourite film.

There was plenty of room, however, for a double page of action snapshots – not captioned – from championship encounters including Tipperary v Waterford, Derry v Armagh, Clare v Cork, Kildare v Wicklow, Dublin v Louth and Donegal v Down.

Not only were supporters treated to a four-page history of penalty kicks but they also got to enjoy another four pages on some of the players considered to be “spot-kick specialists”. One side subject. Eight pages. One wonders. At least we now know that the art of the penalty kick was “said to have been invented” by an Armagh man by the name of William McCrum who was born in 1865. That will come in useful.

Bizarrely, the content included another four-page spread profiling players from several counties in which supporters were briefed on the traits and qualities of Johnny Doyle of Kildare, Karl O’Connell of Monaghan, John Keane of Westmeath, Charlie Harrison of Sligo, Tipperary duo Declan Browne and Michael Quinlivan and Gary Brennan of Clare.

Surely the supporters and those that collect match programmes as a hobby deserved content that was more relevant

The splash titled Heroes of the new order focused on standout players from what might be termed less fashionable counties. Fine footballers indeed but this, ladies and gents, was Kerry v Mayo in Killarney.

Most astonishing of all was the inclusion of another four pages devoted to the debate about whether the GAA would benefit from an open draw. The written content was quite engaging, to be fair, but in this day and age how could anybody possibly consider it acceptable to use what appeared to be dreadful quality, grainy scans of newspaper cuttings instead of original photographs? It’s not, after all, too difficult to source proper archive photographs from the 1984 Centenary Cup final or a decent head and shoulders image of the late great Páidí Ó Sé. All they had to do was ask.

Presumably the same generic content was used in all match programmes for games played around the country yesterday but it was, quite frankly, an insult to those that splashed out a fiver for a souvenir programme to be expected to tolerate shockingly inadequate scans of old cuttings.

Kerry manager Jack O’Connor, selectors Diarmuid Murphy and Mike Quirke and physio Jimmy Galvin keep an eye on proceedings

If even half of the 23,128 attendance that flocked to Fitzgerald Stadium on Saturday bought a programme that would have resulted in a pretty decent windfall of close on €60,000 for the GAA.

Surely that was sufficient to fork out a few quid for an original photograph or two?

The three scanned grainy images aside, the print quality of the programme was actually top class but surely the supporters and the many people that collect match programmes as a hobby deserved content that was more relevant to the big occasion that was the All-Ireland champions hosting the national league title holders at Fitzgerald Stadium.

The saving grace was a fine piece by veteran GAA writer Martin Breheny outlining the new format of the championship and another contribution on the same subject penned by Sen Moran.

An emerging trend spotted at games of late is supporters without programmes borrowing them from others around them and using their smartphones to grab images of the two line-ups. Cheap. But could you blame them?

Next time it might be wiser to give the €5 to the entrepreneur selling the tubs of ice-cream. It mightn’t leave such a bad taste in the mouth. Be wise and advertise where it’s seen. Email: or Call 087-2229761