O Muircheartaigh still top of his game at 80

SURROUNDED by grandchildren, some as young as six, legendary sports commentator Micheál O Muircheartaigh yesterday celebrated his 80th birthday by climbing Ireland’s second highest mountain, Mount Brandon (3,123ft) in Kerry.

The experience didn’t knock a shake out of the fit-looking octogenarian, who was in a family group of 23.

“I feel quite good. I’ve done Mount Brandon several times. It’s not very difficult and it could be described as a gradual climb,” he said afterwards.

“We didn’t rush it. Five grandchildren, some only about six years of age, were in the group.

“We were slow enough coming down as I met a lot of people I knew and stopped to talk with them for a little while,” said the Kerry native.

The teetotaller, whose philosophy is that the most important thing about life is to enjoy it, had tea and sandwiches on the summit, from where he also did a live interview with Áine Ui Laoithe on the Raidio na Gaeltachta programme Saol O Dheas.

Though he left Kerry at the age of 14 to go to Coláiste Iosagáin in Ballyvourney, Co Cork, he said his birthplace had always been special to him throughout his life and he returned frequently.

He was the centre of attention at a surprise party in Dingle last night and will be back at work in Croke Park tomorrow for the Cork v Dublin All-Ireland football semi-final.

Mr O Muircheartaigh, who plays off a handicap of 11, will have a golfing break in Scotland early in the week, taking in St Andrews, the home of golf.

He still predicts that Cork will win the football All-Ireland and Kilkenny will make it five hurling titles in a row.

“I think the Cork footballers have a huge advantage in terms of experience as they have been in so many semi-finals and two All-Ireland finals in recent years,” he said.

Born at Dun Sion, outside Dingle, on August 20, 1930, he was reared on a farm and his first radio commentary was on a Railway Cup final in 1949 while still a student teacher at St Patrick’s College, in Dublin.

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