CLONING aside, Pat Spillane felt he had no other option but to return to his role as a football analyst on The Sunday Game.
Confused? Don’t be. Let the Kerry legend explain the logic of his move away from presenting the programme.
“When I was presenting I would have loved to have a Pat Spillane on the other side ready to fire back.
“Imagine what the rugby or soccer coverage would be like without George Hook or Eamon Dunphy?
“While analysis is an important part of the role you can’t forget that television IS entertainment.
“I felt I was growing stale and I was growing frustrated in the end.
“There were lots of times presenting that I had opinions that I wanted to express but I couldn’t.
“There were times I wanted the questions I was asking answered in a different way.
“In fairness to the Irish sporting public, they want to be told what they are seeing — warts and all.
“It is like a fella once said to me ‘you were right alright but you shouldn’t have said it’.
“But if you are right, you are right.”
Spillane added that there were a number of other factors behind his decision and again re-iterated that he approached RTÉ chiefs about a move down the couch.
“I asked for the change. I had a year on my contract left and I needed a challenge.
“But aside from all of that I needed to get away from a lot of things that the job entailed. I was giving up 21 weekends of the year to the show, that is 21 weekends away from my family.
“I was leaving Dublin around midnight on a Sunday, arriving home at 4am then getting up at quarter past seven and heading off for a day’s teaching. Something had to give.”
So will a few years as gamekeeper have taken the edge of his poaching instincts.
Spillane laughs loudly.
“As a footballer I have been there, done that. I have been at the coalface.
“I feel qualified to give reasoned, informed and fair opinion and that is what I will be delivering.
And what of the annual chestnut about the level of criticism being directed at amateur players.
Spillane has heard it all before and is not for changing.
“The thing that amateur players don’t deserve to be criticised is a loads of codswallop. If they go up on stage in the parish hall, the crowd give an opinion on it, its the same if they play a game for their clubs.
“Down through the years there have been many infamous quotes attributed to me. In general most of them were tongue in cheek and were not personal. But whatever I say, I will still be delivering the message about what I see. I’ve done it all and seen it all and am qualified to analysis and criticise and that is what I’ll be doing.”
And what message for the incoming presenter: “Well the first thing I would say is that over the last five years the figures went up!
“Part and parcel of the GAA is passion and hopefully we will see plenty of it on The Sunday Game this summer.”
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