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'It was like a really bad break up, I will not be back on radio' - Muireann O'Connell on 'heartbreaking' Today FM departure

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Muireann O’Connell left heartbroken. Photo: Brian McEvoy

Muireann O’Connell left heartbroken. Photo: Brian McEvoy

Muireann O’Connell left heartbroken. Photo: Brian McEvoy

Muireann O'Connell has ruled out a return to radio after her 'heartbreaking' departure from Today FM.

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The Virgin Media presenter, who has been replaced by Mairead Ronan on the lunchtime slot, said her painful and public departure from the radio station made it almost impossible for her to return to the airwaves.

"I don't think I would go back into radio, no," she said. "No, it was heartbreaking, to be honest, and people might think that is overstating things. To some, it might seem like it was just a job or whatever.

"But it is 12 years of your life and you are motoring along thinking everything is going well and then it is taken away from you for reasons that you can't quite digest or understand fully.

"So it was really heartbreaking and like an incredibly painful breakup, only this was public."

The broadcaster, who honed her craft in Dublin's 98FM, has gone on to establish herself as one half of the hugely popular Six O'Clock Show on Virgin Media.

Taking over from Lucy Kennedy, the Limerick native quickly created an on-screen rapport with co-host Martin King.

"I really enjoy it and myself and Martin have made it our own," she says. "Because Lucy was a huge personality to follow. She is Ireland's sweetheart and when she is on the telly you feel like you know her.

"So I didn't know what was going to happen to the show once Lucy left. But it was nice that it kept on going and it is a nice, easy show."

The hour-long magazine show has been given a new season and production team, but Muireann is adamant that King is the beating heart of the operation.

And she says he is possibly the most professional man in broadcasting.

"Martin is sweet and friendly all the time," she said. "Over the duration of the time we have worked together, I have heard him curse less than five times.

"And that is when he is imitating someone else.

"He just doesn't curse. He doesn't give out and he is never in a bad mood, which must have been so difficult when you consider what he went through last year. He just has chats and tries to put it to the back of his mind.

"Being able to do that in a year where you lose both of your parents within the same month, is astonishing.

"I don't know how he gets out of bed in the morning, let alone turning up to work the same affable, charming, delightful Martin that he is."

After her painful end to 2019, you would forgive Muireann the opportunity to lick her wounds in private. But she has hit 2020 fighting.

After consulting a psychic (Leinster star Scott Fardy's wife Penelope), she braced herself for big change in the new year. That came in the form of a new job co-hosting Virgin Media's rugby magazine show, The Line-Out, with Love Island winner Greg O'Shea.

"I never thought that two Limerick people would be allowed to host a show together," she said.

"But sure we are making up for the lack of Munster players in the Irish squad for the Guinness Six Nations.

"It is an entertainment magazine show. I am not standing there talking about stats and hands in the ruck. One of the things I find about the Guinness Six Nations is that it is a social event.

"It is a place where you can sit down and have a laugh and enjoy it and learn something or not. It should be fun and entertaining."

Muireann says she is proud to fly the flag for female presenters in what can be a man's world of sport.

The Line-Out with Guinness Six Nations is on Thursday at 10pm on Virgin Media One

Sunday Independent