Having a ball: Newstalk's Off the Ball presenter Nathan Murphy

As presenter and commentator on Newstalk’s Off the Ball, Nathan Murphy has seen the show go from strength to strength and diversify to cater for its growing audience of sports fans. “We’ve expanded the show massively. Now we do a morning show every morning online. We’ve built a new studio. While keeping as much focus as possible on the radio, we’ve added a lot of strands to what we do.”

A fan of all sports and golf, soccer, GAA, and rugby in particular, Nathan agrees it’s been a terrific time for Irish sporting achievements.

The [Six Nations] grand slam would be up there as a highlight. I’m a Mayo man, from Ballyhaunis, but seeing Limerick end their long wait for the All-Ireland offers hope

“Personally, covering the Ryder Cup was great as I’m a bit of a golf nut. At the practice round the day before, we got to spend about an hour going around the course with Tiger Woods. Covering golf is probably the best sport for having inside-the-ropes access.”

As well as the big matches, Off the Ball endeavours to cover a variety of sports, and its coverage of the Irish women’s hockey team’s extraordinary success at the World Cup proved very popular.

We would try to put more focus on other sports. At the hockey [last] year we had the coach and players on air within an hour of the world cup semi-final. They were really keen to promote their sport, it was the biggest moment in the history of Irish hockey

Nathan is a healthy eater who has got into the habit of regularly going to the gym. It’s at the weekends, when he’s in Britain commentating on Premier League matches for Newstalk, that he has to be mindful of what he eats.

What shape are you in?

Pear-shaped. Hard as it may be to believe, for the first time in my life I’ve actually got into a routine of going to the gym three to four times a week. I actually feel fitter and stronger than I have for a long long time. I’m sure my body will actually reflect that at some stage, right?

What are your healthiest eating habits??

I’d say for 90% of the day I’m pretty good but the other 10% is a disaster. On a work day I’d generally go with granola for breakfast, salad for lunch and a freshly cooked dinner. My problem would be when I’m travelling. At Premier League grounds when you’re commentating on matches they generally treat you very well. You’re rushing around and just eating whatever is put in front of you.

What are your guiltiest pleasures??

This is where the problems begin, I don’t suffer enough guilt from my various indulgences. I have a lethal sweet tooth, I have also been known to indulge in a nice glass of wine on a school night.

What would keep you awake at night??

Very little, three kids under the age of seven means every minute in bed is savoured. We have a six- and five-year-old and a three-month old, so a lie-in would be an absolute rarity, though the youngest is a great sleeper.

How do you relax??

I definitely find it a struggle to switch off from work/phone etc. I’m probably at my most relaxed on a Sunday evening, sitting in an airport somewhere in England after commentating on a Premier League game, listening to a golf podcast with a glass of red in my hand.

Who would you invite to your dream dinner party??

Paul McCartney, Phil Mickelson, and Tom Watson. I’m a huge golf fan. I’m also a big Beatles fan, so Paul McCartney would be a great guest and a man who’s had a life like that, you couldn’t not enjoy his company.

What would you like to change about your appearance??

There’s a spare tyre that I could do with losing. And I’d like to have better hair. When I was a teenager I wanted to grow my hair long like Kurt Cobain, but it was just a fuzzy mess. It grows outwards rather than downwards.

When is the last time you cried?

I won’t lie, I did shed a tear after full-time in the 2017 All-Ireland final, there’s only so much heartbreak a Mayo man can take.

What traits do you least like in others?

Arrogance and tardiness. I don’t like cocky people, and in this industry you come across people who’ve been very successful. You always have more time for people who remain grounded.

What traits do you least like about yourself?

I’ve been known to be a little bit lazy from time to time.

Do you pray?

Hell no!

What would cheer up your day?

A smile from my three-month-old Rose usually does the trick. That or a sleep in.


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