Entertainment Television

Tuesday 10 December 2019

Television review: Joe hit the Sexton motherlode

  • Six Nations Rugby, TV3
Joe Molloy, TV3's new rugby presenter
Joe Molloy, TV3's new rugby presenter
Declan Lynch

Declan Lynch

I have worked with TV3's new rugby presenter Joe Molloy, of course, on many occasions, doing the review of the Sunday papers on Newstalk's Off The Ball - though when I say "work", I don't mean work in the narrow sense of that word, I mean more that I have been trying to enjoy myself while Joe does the work.

Indeed this whole "work" thing, has never really sat easily with me. I recall meeting the great entertainer Paddy Cole in an RTE make-up room, and him recognising me as someone he'd "worked" with before, which baffled me until I realised he must be talking about an interview I had done with him for this paper.

Again I had gone to that interview solely for the purposes of enjoying myself, and since Cole is the best of company I had achieved that goal. Moreover, since we were now in an RTE make-up room, and not, say, emptying wheelie-bins into a large truck on a winter's morning, I was finding it even harder to process this talk of "work".

But work it was, I suppose, if only in the showbusiness sense. And whatever Joe Molloy does on Off The Ball and now on TV3 is even more like work as any normal person would understand it. Important work too.

Indeed it is the sort of work which enables others to enjoy themselves, as I can vouch from the many days on which I have sat across the table from Molloy as he reads out relevant sections of the Sunday papers which he has carefully underlined, so that the listener will have some idea what we are talking about - doing the hard yards, as I believe our rugby friends would call it.

No branch of showbusiness can function without someone doing that stuff, and it is particularly vital in the sports department, in which the presenter is almost always in a studio with people who tend to place the emphasis on the enjoyment aspect, rather than the wheelie-bin at dawn aspect.

So it has been a pleasure for me to "work" with Joe on the radio, knowing that he will always be there at the breakdown, as it were. And it is a gift that is even rarer in a TV presenter, this suppression of ego - after all, people who are lacking in ego don't usually find themselves presenting TV programmes, but they must be adept at a kind of ego management.

Bill O'Herlihy, for example, was not a man to be lacerating himself with self-doubt, and yet he managed to do the "work" modestly and assiduously, so that others could be out there enjoying themselves.

Of course, O'Herlihy became an intrinsic part of some of Ireland's greatest days, while Joe hit the motherlode on his big match debut, being the official chief TV celebrant of Sexton's sensational intervention.

Again it was sport which delivered a TV moment for the ages, and in the studio Joe was able to hand over to Ronan O'Gara, who had himself known such moments, none of which have changed in any way his wonderfully saturnine disposition - O'Gara, despite all his accomplishments, or even because of them, seems to possess a profound understanding of Damon Runyon's line that in life, the odds are always six to four against.

It used to be more like 50 to one against seeing one of these epics on TV3. But hey, you can see all sorts of things there now that RTE believes - wrongly in my view - that there's an upper limit to the money they should spend on sport.

You can even see Pat Kenny there now, Wednesday nights, and most nights you can see Matt Cooper and Ivan Yates on The Tonight Show - I was "working" with Ivan recently too, on the radio, which merely confirmed my belief that he is a tremendous broadcaster.

Again I would call it work only in the loosest sense, because Ivan would be the sort who is only trying to enjoy himself, which oddly enough can lead to others enjoying themselves too.

The "work" goes on quietly, somewhere.

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