One of the best characters was Eamonn Coleman.
Eamonn came on the scene around 1990/’91 and he scared the hell out of journalists. There was the famous time after Derry upset Dublin in the 1993 All-Ireland semi-final when he said: ‘youse boys know nathin’ to a group of southern journalists, but I got to really like him. He had a great way of disarming you. You might ask him what he thought of a game and he would say ‘not much’ but you had to wait for the wee smile and ask him the same question a different way and he might give you a minute-long answer.
I remember interviewing him at half-time of the 1993 All-Ireland final for the BBC down by the entrance to the dressing-rooms. It was raining and I was soaked but I got him on the way in. The whole thing lasted for 19 seconds. Nineteen seconds. I asked him how it was going and he just said ‘tough stuff’. He said Niall Cahalane should have been sent off and not Tony Davis and then when I asked him about the second-half he just said ‘its’ not over yet’. He hardly said anything but it made for great TV. RTÉ picked it up as well.
There’s been others like Joe Brolly as well. I went down to the All Stars when Joe won two years in a row and each time he gave me six or seven minutes and it was all gold. Ross Carr in Down is always passionate. I wrote a book in 1993 and interviewed four legends in his pub and everything he said that night was priceless. Then there is Mickey Harte who has always been one of the most articulate interviewees and I remember the one he gave me after Cormac McAnallen died.
Cormac died on a Tuesday and the burial was on the Sunday but Mickey and a few others, including Cormac’s brother Donal, sat down to talk about him in the clubhouse on the Thursday when we blacked out the whole room. Mickey was so raw and passionate and, looking back, I would be most proud of that show.
Mickey said that his kids had always told him that Cormac was like a son to him and he was, he said. He said he was glad that he had always told Cormac that he was the man and then he lost it at the end. I probably asked him one question too many and he just collapsed. I admire him for that interview and then you think about everything that has happened to him since.”
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved