Paul Fleming pleased Derry footballers could be shown live three times on BBC

Councillor Paul Fleming.
Councillor Paul Fleming.

The announcement by the BBC that it will show four live matches from the Ulster football championship - including three potentially involving the Derry footballers - has been welcomed by Sinn Féin councillor Paul Fleming.

The BBC has confirmed its first two live matches will involve Antrim v Tyrone or Derry on May 25 and Fermanagh v Donegal on May 26.

It will also show the semi-final on Saturday, June 8, as well the final on Sunday, June 23, both of which again could involve the Derry footballers.

Deferred coverage of four other games including Tyrone v Derry next Sunday will also be aired.

Colr. Fleming, whose party has been campaigning for enhanced Gaelic Games coverage on the BBC, said the State broadcaster's decision to up its live coverage from two live games in 2018 to four live games this year, was good news for fans and licence papers.

He said: “It’s welcome that BBC has increased its live coverage of the GAA Ulster Championships to four games this year.

“This is a sign that BBC and others are beginning to listen to the voice of Gaels who feel frustrated at the inability to watch the island’s largest spectator sport on their television screens.

“Sinn Féin has been highlighting this issue for two years and have consistently lobbied the BBC and other broadcasters to ensure there is equal access to GAA coverage.

“While this is a welcome increase, more can and should be done to ensure parity of esteem for Gaels and licence payers.

“Sinn Féin will continue to press broadcasters, including the BBC and RTÉ, on the need for fair, equitable and accessible access to Gaelic games for everyone right across Ireland.”

Eddie Doyle, Head of Content Production, BBC Northern Ireland, said: "We've been working closely with the GAA, the Ulster Council and RTÉ and are pleased this year to bring fans four live games and four deferred games in the Championship.

"We'll provide more details of our coverage in due course and are continuing to talk to all the relevant parties about future opportunities. We can assure supporters we remain committed to bringing them the best coverage we can, across all our platforms."

Ulster GAA Provincial Secretary, Brian McAvoy said: "Ulster GAA have been working closely with broadcasters and Croke Park in relation to coverage of this year's Ulster Senior Football Championship.

"It promises to be a mouth-watering Championship and the prevalence of high profile derby games will undoubtedly add to the atmosphere. Ulster GAA are pleased that five of our eight Championship games will be shown 'live' on television, with the BBC showing four of them.

"Two of these will be on a simulcast basis with RTÉ, and I thank RTÉ for accommodating this arrangement, and two will be shown exclusively on the BBC. The BBC have also been granted rights to show deferred coverage of the four games they are not showing live."