Eamon Dunphy accuses RTÉ of 'going soft' over Joe Brolly absence

Eamon Dunphy accuses RTÉ of 'going soft' over Joe Brolly absence

Former RTÉ soccer pundit Eamon Dunphy has criticised his former employers for "going soft" on sports analysis.

Dunphy, who left the station last year, said he felt the culture in the broadcaster had changed, leaving him with a sense that he wasn't getting the same backing from RTÉ bosses.

He compared his situation to Joe Brolly's absence from RTÉ's coverage of the All-Ireland football final replay.

As first reported in the Irish Examiner, Brolly's place on the panel for Saturday's final has gone to Stephen Rochford. Rochford will be joined on the panel by Pat Spillane and Ciaran Whelan.

Dunphy said in his Irish Daily Star column he was "annoyed" by the decision, praising the former Derry footballer as "tough and shrewd" and "never afraid to express what he thinks".

"The softening up the content of analysts is a trend that was in train before I left RTÉ last year and was one of the reasons why I exited the station after more than three decades working there," he said.

"Once a network goes down that road then it is not being faithful to the customer and viewer any longer."

He added: "To me, the culture has changed in the studio in contrast to a decade ago and before. Once that happens, then that places pundits in a difficult place.

"The analyst must be supported by his boss and referring back to my final two or three years out in Montrose, I did not get the feeling that this was the case.

At a time when Neville and Keane have added bite to Sky Sports and ITV Sport, the irony and folly of not having Brolly on RTÉ is all the more puzzling. If Brolly is lost to RTÉ's GAA coverage then it's a blow to its coverage.

In the same paper, Ger Loughnane, another former RTÉ pundit, said he switched over to Sky Sports during the game. He said RTÉ have made the "right decision".

Both Whelan and Brolly questioned the judgement of referee David Gough at half time in the drawn game for the sending off of Dublin's Jonny Cooper for fouling David Clifford on a third occasion. Former Dublin midfielder Whelan described the decision as “disgraceful”, while Brolly claimed the Meath match official had been “clearly influenced by the propaganda coming from Kerry”.

The day after the game, Whelan rowed back on his comments: “When you look back on it and look at the replays, as Cooper is going down he does pull Clifford down with him so it’s hard to argue with Gough’s decision.”

Speaking on Radio Kerry’s Terrace Talk and commenting on Twitter, Brolly maintained his position until this past weekend when he revealed he had spoken to Gough who explained his decision.

Paraphrasing Gough, Brolly wrote in his Sunday Independent column: “‘(Clifford) checking an opponent in those circumstances is fine. So, although David plays him, the first foul occurs when Jonny grabs his arm. As you can see, I had no choice.’ Put like that, it is absolutely true. So there you have it. Every day is a school day.”

Brolly said he apologised to Gough for the “propaganda remark” —

I suggested in the heat of the moment that referee David Gough may have been influenced by the propaganda emanating from Kerry in the lead-up to the game. Afterwards, I contacted him to apologise for this. It was wrong of me and unfair on David, who is a man of integrity and honour.

Regarding the penalty call, he admitted Gough was right to award it. “I watched it again after we spoke and Goddamnit, David is right. It is a penalty. Subtle, but clear.”

- Additional reporting by John Fogarty

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