Press Pass

Your first ever radio station?

“A minor Leinster final for Radio Kilkenny. I had been doing an imitation of Jimmy McGee at a 21st and Pat Treacy, who was DJ at it, was working for the station and got my number. There was a man out sick for them so he rang and asked me could I do the match.”

Have you ever worked in a profession other than journalism?

“I’m a fitter by trade and I’m back in Intel working at that now.”

What was your finest achievement playing GAA?

“Reaching the Laois MFC final in 1984. I was full-forward but we lost after a replay to Portlaoise, who had the great Cyril Duggan on the side.”

Most memorable match covered?

“The 1996 All-Ireland MFC final. We had two lads from the village on the team and it the first time Graiguecullen had anyone who won an All-Ireland final. There were wild celebrations.”

The one moment in football you would put on a DVD?

“The marathon matches between Dublin and Meath were unbelievable in 1991 but I was in Croke Park as a 16-year-old the day Seamus Darby scored against Kerry in 1982. I was after passing the Inter-Cert and my father brought me as a treat.”

Best stadium?

“The Telstra Dome in Melbourne for the 2003 World Cup. It was an amazing stadium.”

Worst stadium?

“Tullamore before it was renovated. The concrete seating in the old stand side was poor and inhospitable.”

Your best ever scoop?

“After Leinster beat Toulouse in Toulouse, Leinster coach David Knox was on the same level as us and I got a reaction from him straight after the final whistle. It was a big coup for Newstalk.”

Your personal new-tech disaster?

“On the same day, I brought ISDN equipment. They could hear me back in Dublin but I couldn’t hear them. On the stroke of kick off I abandoned it and went with a telephone line. I plugged in a reporter phone I brought as back up as the game kicked off. By God was I stressed but it ended up one of the best commentaries I did.”

Have you ever been mistaken for anyone else?

“In 2003 in Australia were in the same hotel as the players. Eddie O’Sullivan asked would everyone in the hotel come downstairs and clap them out on the bus. I was with Tom Byrne, the auctioneer from Carlow whose two sons play for the Irish U18 team now, and we had the Irish gear on for the match. We came out of the lift and everyone started clapping so we kept walking. We had to go along with it at that stage.”

Most media friendly manager?

“Babs Keating was always nice and always gave an interview.”

Best ever player?

“The best senior footballer was Jack O’Shea but the best minor was Beano McDonald from Arles-Killeen in Laois. Had it all.”

Best ever teams (club and county)?

“The Éire Óg team from Carlow that won five Leinster titles. For a county team you’d have to go with the four in a row Kerry and Kilkenny teams.”

Best pre-match grub?

“The Roma Grill in Youghal. I stopped there once on the way to Páirc Ui Chaoimh. I used to get the T-bone steak.”

Best press box grub?

“Aughrim in Wicklow is great. They always look after you and Casement Park in Belfast is great. They don’t really stop people going in to get fed. I’ve been in there with the fans before. Mind you, it was Carlow versus Antrim, so there wasn’t too many people there in the first place.”

Worst press box welcome?

“Portlaoise. I went to cover the All-Ireland junior final Wicklow and Kerry for CKLR. We used to cover West Wicklow at the time as well as Carlow and Kildare. But Liam O’Neill, current GAA president, went to put me out of the press box saying we’d no right to be taking up a phone line. We were there covering matches for 10 years at that stage so I wasn’t long telling him where to go.”

Favourite radio/TV commentator?

“Darragh Maloney — he’s excellent on radio and TV and very professional. He could do it anywhere in the world and is a very nice fella off air.”

If you could introduce one change to improve PR between the GAA and press what would it be?

“If they had a better approach to greeting people. In rugby, you’re made feel more than welcome when you come to a game but GAA greeting is abrupt. It’s people with power going to their heads wearing high-vis vests. Because it’s an amateur game, these things happen.”

One sporting event outside GAA you would love to experience?

“The Champions League final. I’m a Chelsea supporter and had to forfeit my ticket this year to work at the Heineken Cup final.”

Last book read?

“Bernard Jackman’s Blue Blood.”

Favourite current TV programme?

“Mrs Brown’s Boys. I love it.”

Your most prized GAA memorabilia?

“I have a crystal sliotar and football from taking part in Up for the Match in 2002.”

Advice to any would-be commentator?

“Be honest at all times and don’t try and say things are happening that aren’t. You’ll be caught out. If you make a mistake, own up.”

More in this section

Puzzles logo

Puzzles hub

Visit our brain gym where you will find simple and cryptic crosswords, sudoku puzzles and much more. Updated at midnight every day. PS ... We would love to hear your feedback on the section right HERE.


Latest news from the world of sport, along with the best in opinion from our outstanding team of sports writers

Sign up
Puzzles logo

Puzzles hub

Visit our brain gym where you will find simple and cryptic crosswords, sudoku puzzles and much more. Updated at midnight every day. PS ... We would love to hear your feedback on the section right HERE.