Saturday 16 November 2019

Bill O’Herlihy: I don’t mind coming across as an eejit at times

Lise Hand

BROADCASTER Bill O'Herlihy said he's "a person who's not intimidated by live television. I don't mind making a mistake, I don't mind coming across as an eejit at times, asking a question to which I obviously know the answer but I feel people want to know, so I ask on behalf of them".

The high-profile RTE soccer anchor launches his autobiography today.

Titled 'We'll Leave It There So', it chronicles his life and a career in television journalism which has spanned six decades and includes his time working as RTE's first regional correspondent and also his time working for current affairs show '7 Days'.

The veteran journalist reckons that his breadth of his long career will come as a surprise to many readers. "I'd say it will amaze people, an awful lot of people thought I started in television in 1988 with the European Championships," he said.

He revealed that he had been persuaded to write his autobiography by his colleague Eamon Dunphy.

“I've been asked a number of times to write a book and always said no. But he was very persuasive. I found it quite stressful because it exposes you and I'm a private person - I'm a facilitator rather than a front of house guy," he said.

“I don't care - I am a person who's not intimidated by live television. I don't mind making a mistake”

And the book gives a vivid description of the hot-house atmosphere in the studio during the match analyses with panellists such as Dunphy, John Giles and Liam Brady.

"There can be tensions," he admitted. "I've got bollockings from Liam Brady on air, and from Eamon, but it never worried me. I take it in my stride - it's part of the TV theatre in a way."

And although Bill insists that he tries to maintain a neutral in the studio, he sad that he did break his own rule over the Saipan controversy in 2002.

"I thought that Roy Keane was very badly treated. I felt that we were going to lose our captain - a person who as much as anyone else and more than most - brought us to Japan," he explained.

Bill is also critical in his book of the current Ireland manager, Giovanni Trapattoni, writing, "I don't understand why Trapattoni is still managing Ireland." It's a view he still sticks to. "I would look at Trapattoni as someone who has done his job and it's time for someone else to take over."

But he has nothing but praise for his tormentors, the Apres Match crew. "I think the Apres Match fellas are great. Even though I don't think I say things like okey-doke or say 'live' half as much, but they have made me distinctly different, so that's great," he laughed.

We'll Leave It There So by Bill O'Herlihy: Paperweight Productions; E19.99

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