I won't retire early from RTE, vows Eamon Dunphy
Soccer pundit reveals he was asked to quit by state broadcaster
BROADCASTER Eamon Dunphy has resisted moves by RTE to have him retire from acting as a soccer pundit.
The 68-year-old revealed he was asked by the national broadcaster to consider bowing out after next year's World Cup.
Veteran presenter Bill O'Herlihy has already signalled his intention to retire after the tournament. But Mr Dunphy said he had no plans to retire any time soon.
Speaking at the Leopardstown Christmas Festival, Mr Dunphy said: "RTE put the question to me (about leaving) and the answer was no. I am five years younger than George Hook and Johnny Giles, so I'm not leaving the building until they go."
Dunphy told the Irish Independent that he hoped to continue on the soccer panel as long as Roy Keane and Martin O'Neill were at the helm of the Republic of Ireland management set-up.
"I think Roy and Martin will do brilliantly and after the World Cup in the autumn of next year we'll be trying to quality for Euros 2016, which I think will be very interesting and I think we will qualify.
"I am reinvigorated now with the Irish team. Soccer people and sports people -- but soccer people in particular -- we've had a bad seven years with Staunton and Trapattoni.
"It was a down time and we couldn't even fill the Aviva, but now with these two guys I think we are in for a very exciting period in Irish soccer."
RTE declined to comment on Dunphy's words.
The broadcaster attended the races with his wife Jane Gogan, who is head of RTE drama.
The wet and windy weather was the dominant force at the festival, but nothing could dampen the spirits of winning father-son duo, Willie and Patrick Mullins.
Champion jockey and owner Patrick saw Rockyaboya, trained by dad Willie and ridden by Ruby Walsh, battle the stormy conditions to gallop across the finish line to claim the €190,000 Paddy Power Steeplechase.
"A good friend of mine, Paul Byrne, found Rockyaboya in a field with a couple of cows and couple of sheep and couldn't sell him when he tried to," said 24-year-old Patrick.
"I liked him and brought him in. He won a few races then started to run bad and the boys got an offer from England, so I said I'd buy him off them for very small money.
"I was meant to sell him on then after a month or two. He was getting different injuries, he didn't run for a year, and I ended up giving him my own colours. I couldn't sell him and now -- look at him."
A total of 13,031 dedicated punters braved the poor weather to take in the sporting action yesterday, compared with day two in 2012 when 15,130 attended.
Pat Keogh, chief executive of Leopardstown Racecourse, said he was happy with the footfall.
While the stands were less crowded, the country's politicians turned out in force. Transport Minister Leo Varadkar, Minister of State Brian Hayes, and former junior health minister Roisin Shortall all attended.
Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte arrived with his daughter but refused to speak to the press, insisting he was "on a day off".
Meanwhile, Environment Minister Phil Hogan continued what has become an annual racing tradition for his family. "I go racing every Christmas and before I became minister I used to go regularly to plenty more meetings around the country. Unfortunately, other duties have taken precedence at this stage, but I love going racing."
Former FG politician Ivan Yates was among the guests to be invited by Paddy Power and was accompanied by his son Andrew.
The Newstalk anchor, who returned to Ireland after emerging from bankruptcy last September, said he was looking forward to what he hopes will be a prosperous 2014. "Things will hopefully improve next year, I'm very optimistic about the future, and I'm obviously very glad to be back in Ireland," he said.
RTE presenter Marian Finucane also attended, as did Fergus Finlay of children's charity Barnardos.