- Breaking News
- Today's Paper
- Text Only
- Family Notices
By Colm O’Connor
TO those of a certain generation, there is something magical about radio on All-Ireland final Sunday.">
Friday, September 10, 2004
By Colm O’Connor
TO those of a certain generation, there is something magical about radio on All-Ireland final Sunday.
Maybe it's because television is a relatively new interloper in the Association's history with the first games being transmitted in black and white in the early sixties.
Or maybe it's because for many, radio and All-Ireland finals combine to evoke magical memories of amazing days in another Ireland.
An era when hordes gathered around the kitchen of an affluent wireless owner, listening to Radio Eireann and Micheal Ó Hehir, who, incredibly, did his first broadcast of the match as a teenager in 1938.
The catchphrases were legendary: "and it looks like there's a bit of a schemozzle in the parallelogram." His phrasing painted a picture for thousands "Tom Cheasty breaks through with Kilkenny defenders falling around him like dying wasps." His words held a country enthralled.
Mícheál Ó Muircheartaigh followed soon after as Ó Hehir moved into television. At first the Kerry native was something of the forgotten man, overtaken by the new technology but, sometime in the 1990's, Michael became the epitome of cool, introducing a much-changed nation to the magic of his medium once again.
The changing face of technology, which allowed radio commentary to be transmitted on the internet probably fast-tracked the resurgence, but the kick-start came from the spread of local licences over the past 15 years.
Clare's historic success in the 1995 All-Ireland final didn't just catapult Ger Loughnane and his team into the national psyche but also Matthew McMahon, commentator with Clare FM on that amazing September day.
"The cigarettes are being lit here in the commentary box. The lads are getting anxious. It's a line ball down there to Clare and who is to take it? Will ye put 'em out lads! Ye'll choke me," he famously exclaimed before Eamon Taffe's life-changing goal.
It's little wonder then that stations in Cork and Kilkenny are compulsory listening in the hours leading up to Sunday's showdown.
Things are different in the south east this year as the American sounding KCLR 96FM has only been in existence since May, having picked up where Radio Kilkenny left off. However, many of the same voices from the previous era of All-Ireland final successes are providing the Cat calls once more on Sunday.
"It's been learning on the bounce," Declan Gibbons, Head of Sport admitted. "But a lot of the team were part of the All-Ireland over the last number of years and will bring that experience."
Not surprisingly the schedule is swamped with all things hurling. "Today we are having an outside broadcast from O'Loughlin Gaels from 9-11pm with guests from the past and present from Kilkenny and Cork and on Friday we have another show between 7 and 9pm with a similar format."
Gibbons' position leaves him in a prime position to judge the mood in the county. "There is a great buzz but a little bit of tension, which was there last year.
"The bid for three-in-a-row, for the seniors and the minors is adding to that tension. There is a also a bit of concern not to over-hype it because 1999 still looms large in people's memories down here.
"And there is concern here about Cork as well. They are hurling very well and they are hitting it at just the right time, as they showed against Wexford."
Given the presence of minors and seniors, Gibbons will head an impressive Croke Park team Barry Henriques will be match commentator while the former Cat, Paddy Prendergast, who is being honoured along with the 1979 team after the minor game, will be on analysis.
Tommy O'Brien, Dermot Healy, David Henriques and Richard Stone complete the line up.
Their broadcast will run from 1pm to 7pm and then it's off to the City West Hotel, "win, lose or draw" for the banquet.
Gibbons will have to give the beer a miss as he is back on air at 7.30am Monday, hoping to be "tormenting players at an early hour" for the morning show. The team arrives back at 6.15pm with Gibbons and his crew following their progress, and, he hopes, that of Liam McCarthy, around the Marble City.
IN Cork, the daily sports bulletins on County Sound are peppered with news and player interviews from the two camps.
But from tomorrow, the station's output will almost be exclusively devoted to the Croker decider. "We are presenting an 'Up for the Match' type show, 'The Final Hour,' from 6pm to 10pm on Saturday," said the station's sports head, Michael Scanlon.
"The show will be jointly broadcast from Cork and from the Burlington Hotel. We'll have an interview about the history of who Liam McCarthy was while John Cashman went down to CBS in Midleton for an interesting piece.
"One third of the team that lines out on Sunday went to school down there including guys like Joe Deane, Diarmuid O'Sullivan and Donal Óg Cusack."
And all of that is just the calm before the storm. Scanlon and his team have an early start in the capital on Sunday with almost eight hours of live broadcasting planned on the biggest day in the hurling year.
"We have a programme on the morning from the Gresham Hotel between 11 and 1.30pm where we will be meeting supporters and getting a flavour of the atmosphere."
Then it's off to Croke Park. "We will be there from between 2 and 6.30pm, playing some more interviews talking to fans, and former greats in and around the press box. Then from 3.30pm we will have full live coverage with our commentary team of John Cashman and Kieran O'Driscoll."
It was not too long ago when local radio commentary at Croke Park was a business fraught with danger in the highest levels of the Hogan Stand.
Commentators had to balance their notes precariously on a narrow bar, avoid rivers of cabling, endure the odd poke in the ribs from supporters sitting one row back and all the while make sure the news, good, bad and indifferent got back home.
Those glory, gory days are long gone. "It is a dream to work in," says Scanlon. "Croke Park is state of the art and it is as professional as any ground in the world. We will have a crew of four with Finbarr McCarthy and myself joining the two commentators.
"We have a huge following on the internet with people contacting us from Australia, New Zealand, the States and even China. Amazingly we get a huge amount of correspondence from Texas. Maybe George Bush is a fan."
Or maybe it's an anti-Kerry thing.
Cork County Sound broadcasts on 103FM in the county, 102.6FM in the city and is available worldwide on www.103fm.ie
KCLR broadcast in Carlow and Kilkenny on 96FM.
RTÉ will broadcast the game on Radio 1 (88-90FM and 252lw. Also on www. rte.ie/radio and on satellite.
© Irish Examiner Ltd, City Quarter, Lapps Quay, Cork. Registered in Ireland: 523712.