Sunday 4 December 2016

Joe Molloy: There was so much to like about Bill O'Herlihy - you felt you knew him

Joe Molloy

Published 27/05/2015 | 02:30

The late Bill O'Herlihy will be remembered for his general air of warmth and optimism and understated intelligence
The late Bill O'Herlihy will be remembered for his general air of warmth and optimism and understated intelligence

After a giddy weekend of sunshine and celebration and sport, it was a sobering moment on Monday morning when my phone beeped with the news.

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Surely not, I thought. Not Bill! Twitter, as it so often tends to do, provided confirmation.

I didn't know Bill personally, I should say. But I did really. We all kind of did.

And there were lots of things about Bill to like. I liked when he was shot down brutally by the panel and laughed at himself. I liked when he told Eamon Dunphy, 'You can't say that Eamon'. I liked when he called John Giles the 'senior analyst'.

I liked when he tripped over his closing scripted remarks and found it funny, rather than even remotely embarrassing. I liked the time last year when Eamon cursed and he called it an 'inexactitude'.

More than anything I just liked his general air of warmth and optimism and understated intelligence.

John Giles talked to us on Monday night about what made Bill great. Ultimately it came down to ego. Or in Bill's case, lack of ego.

Gary O'Toole backed up the point with a lovely story where Bill eschewed some technical swimming jargon he'd been using off air to simply ask Gary on air 'What makes this swimmer different from the others?'.

As Gary recalled on Monday: "He just left it open to me, knowing that if someone could talk articulately and intelligently about something he had highlighted, it reflected well on him. And he was prepared to do that.

"He was prepared to be the ringmaster but not the main focus of proceedings. Therein lied his absolute genius."

Irish Independent

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