Friday 30 September 2016

John Giles: We piggy-backed on the talents of Bill O'Herlihy

Published 25/05/2015 | 17:47

The late Bill O'Herlihy pictured with the 'Three Amigos' John Giles, Eamon Dunphy and Liam Brady
The late Bill O'Herlihy pictured with the 'Three Amigos' John Giles, Eamon Dunphy and Liam Brady

John Giles, affectionately dubbed one of the 'Three Amigos' by the late Bill O'Herlihy, has paid tribute to the broadcaster who passed away suddenly last night.

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The 76-year-old sports anchor, public relations chief and political strategist was described by friends and colleagues as a decent man, sharp journalist and national treasure.

Affectionately known to the nation as Bill, his career began in current affairs and he went on to carve out a niche in television.

He will forever be remembered for marshalling straight-talking pundits John Giles, Liam Brady and Eamon Dunphy and heralding some of the most momentous occasions in Irish sport.

Speaking on The Ray D'Arcy show on RTE Radio One this afternoon, Giles described how O'Herlihy teased the best out of his panellists.

"We piggy-backed on his talents," he said

"The panellists are only as good as the presenters and Bill was brilliant.

"He could take a joke... Eamon could say that's a load of rubbish or I could say,'that's a load of rubbish Bill' and it never bothered him.

"It was his job to get the best out of the pundits and panellists which he did. He didn't put himself first, he didn't pretend to be an expert on football.

"He asked what many people would think were silly questions but he knew exactly what he was doing on that."

O'Herlihy attended the Irish Film and Television Awards last night and died at his home.

Former Ireland international and pundit Ray Houghton summed up O'Herlihy as a presenter.

"He has a job, he knew what was required and he delivered every time," he said.

"He got the very best out of the panellists, he gave them the freedom to give their opinion and he knew when to come in and move the conversation on.

"It's not just about firing questions at the panel."

Born in Cork, Bill O'Herlihy became a journalist at 16, writing for the Cork Examiner.

The broadcasting legend's CV included ten World Cups and ten Olympics.

His first on air for RTE was a piece commemorating the sinking of the Lusitania off the Cork coast for Newsbeat in 1965 and he later worked on 7 Days.

In 1973, he stepped into public relations and founded the O'Herlihy Communications Group which since merged with Insight Consultants.

In 1979 O'Herlihy co-presented the first Sunday Game with Jim Carney and he went on to lead soccer coverage up until his retirement last night.

His style was unique, combining skill, wit and good humour with the fiery and opinionated analyses of Giles, Dunphy and Brady.

Former Liverpool player and German international Didi Hamann, a more recent addition to some of RTE's flagship soccer coverage, added his sympathies.

"Terrible news that Bill O'Herlihy has passed away. Outstanding presenter and even better man. Honoured to have worked with him. RIP Bill," he said.

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