I wanted Bill as a panelist but it was never to be, reveals Pat Kenny
Published 29/05/2015 | 02:30
Broadcaster Pat Kenny has revealed that he had been in talks with Bill O'Herlihy in the hope that he would come in as a panelist for his Newstalk radio show.
The iconic sports anchor had poignantly asked for "a chance to have a rest" after his retirement, before he took on a new challenge.
"But it was never to be," Pat reflected.
"He had a brilliant career," he said, noting that he had never heard anyone say a bad word about the Corkonian.
"In a business that is very cynical, there was no cynicism about Bill," he added.
Mr Kenny was one of a flood of well-known faces who turned out at Flanagan's Funeral Home in Dundrum in Dublin to say a final farewell to the beloved face of Irish soccer.
The broadcaster (76) died unexpectedly in his sleep early last Monday.
Just the previous night he had attended the annual Iftas ceremony in his role as chairman of the Irish Film Board.
Former footballer Niall Quinn paid tribute to O'Herlihy, who had given him his start.
He had been a 21-year-old player just back from Ireland's efforts in the Euros in 1988 when O'Herlihy had invited him to come in as a pundit.
The young footballer had pointed out the Dutch striker Marco Van Basten, then a sub, as being one to watch - and Van Basten ended up scoring a hat-trick against England, a semi-final winner versus West Germany and a spectacular volley to see off the Soviet Union in the final.
O'Herlihy made sure all the credit for spotting his potential went to Niall, giving him the confidence to continue in punditry.
"He sharpened me up and gave me the confidence - and I'm still in it today," said Quinn.
Michael Lowry TD remembered O'Herlihy's kindness, saying: "Apart from his professionalism, it was his kindness and his compassion that always struck me.
"Italia 90 is what he'll always be associated with - he rallied the Irish people and was just able to pick out the right words for the right moment."
Others who attended were Eamon Dunphy and his wife Jane; actor Risteard Cooper; broadcaster Gay Byrne and Olympic gold medallist Eamonn Coghlan.
The mourners talked about how O'Herlihy's death "wasn't a bad way to go - after a night out at the Iftas, say hello to people, say goodbye to people and then go home."
Former champion driver Larry Mooney also paid tribute to O'Herlihy as a deeply religious man who went to Mass every day without any fuss or pretension.
His funeral will take place at 11.30am today at the Church of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour in Foxrock, Dublin.