Saturday, May 12, 2007

Sometimes It's Hard To Be An Exile...

This is something I'm sure those Bluemen in Oz, NZ, England and elsewhere can empathise with. Today, Linfield play in the final of the Setanta Sports Cup. It's always frustrating when you can't be there in person to roar on the boys in Blue, as I was luckily able to do last weekend. (In fact, I should have stayed at home for a week longer and pulled a sickie, as I hardly had any hours of work this week and was actually ill, but I'm trying not to think about that right now).

For the exile, therefore, there remains few channels of communication open to them to keep in touch with live events during games:

- Text updates of course are the most direct way, but they're expensive and intermittent.

- Watching the game on Setanta Sports would be a possibility; except Setanta Ireland is scarcely available outside Ireland, and a no-no in Berlin.

- Watching a live stream via a service such Live Football Online is sometimes possible, but hard cash needs to be stumped up in advance.

- Live radio coverage is the most frequent option, but for some reason Radio Ulster only broadcast RU FM online, and this rarely has live football coverage, especially not evening games nor Cup Finals. This is a particular pet hate of mine, and I have complained about it on more than one occasion, only to get this response:

F/M is our premier service which is why it is used online. There are occasions when we switch, but with Sport we sometimes only obtain M/W rights, instead of F/M.

Today, there are no listings for the Setanta Final, some Gaelic language programme is scheduled for the time of the second half, so that option is ruled out. Of course, it's easy to point out that Radio Foyle provide much better coverage for Derry City in all competitions, but that's another beef for another day.

Which leaves us with the Godsend that is Smurf, the Linfield official site and his invaluable live updates. Plus the input of those fans in NI watching the game on TV and reporting back on ILF (esp Glentoran Oldie, who posts up the goals etc almost immediately after).

It's far from ideal, but there's no other option open to us. Not even any Drogheda Radio station is broadcasting the game. I know it's the final of a cup sponsored by a rival broadcaster, but I think it's a joke that the BBC and UTV give this essentially all-Ireland Champions decider such criminal coverage.

Such is the lot of the neglected exile :(

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