Tuesday 21 May 2019

Des Cahill on 'Up for the Match' shake-up: 'Mary was being cool but I had no idea she was being replaced'

RTE sports presenter Des Cahill. Picture: Donall Farmer
RTE sports presenter Des Cahill. Picture: Donall Farmer
Niamh Horan

Niamh Horan

RTE presenter Des Cahill has said he questions whether age was part of the reason his former co-presenter Mary Kennedy was replaced by Grainne Seoige on RTE's annual sport'show, Up for the Match.

As he publishes his new book Play it Again Des this weekend, the popular presenter told the Sunday Independent that he did not know about the shake-up until the last minute.

"I had sensed Mary was being cool with me and I didn't know why," he says. "I think she must have felt I was in on that but I wasn't even aware of it."

When asked if age could have played a part in the shake-up, he said: "Yeah, absolutely, and I wondered that myself. Is it more difficult for women age-wise than men? I think it is. Partly because women are more judgmental of women when it comes to age. I don't think men are as judgmental of women on air as women are. But I may be wrong."

Ms Kennedy also presented the People of the Year Awards until RTE replaced her in both jobs with Grainne.

The book contains dozens of colourful anecdotes, including the day the sports presenter interviewed Stephen Roche in a broom cupboard and how he cried in the arms of Christy O'Connor Junior. Mr Cahill also describes how another presenter, Joe Duffy, "really hardly spoke" to him for years after Des was considered the natural replacement for Gay Byrne's radio show.

He writes: "Some of the press had started calling me 'Son of Gaybo', tipping me to succeed him on radio when he retired, the whole thing genuinely making me feel uncomfortable. If anyone was 'Son of Gaybo' I think it was Joe, he'd been a great reporter on Gay's show, they had a terrific rapport and I would have guessed he would have had Gay's blessing to take over from him. But they went for me."

He writes: "Joe found that difficult, he really hardly spoke to me for the next couple of years, but I always felt he had good reason to feel aggrieved. We got past that, though, we get on well now."

Meanwhile, in his interview with the Sunday Independent this weekend Mr Cahill also explains how Marty Morrissey is at risk of being over-exposed, given his high profile.

"Marty is in that danger now," he says. "Marty is everywhere. Hugely popular. But if I was minding Marty I would say 'Marty you've been over-exposed.' 'Oh, Marty again' - you have to be careful of that."

Mr Cahill also opened up about how he uncovered his family secret and says: "I arrived into a family that was battered."

Aged 12, he stumbled on two children's school bags in the attic that revealed the story.

His father Patrick, had been married before. His first wife, Norah, and three of their six children, had gone swimming in a lake. His daughter got into difficulty, his son went in to save her, quickly followed by his first wife, and all three drowned.

His surviving children, Eileen, Brian and Una, went to live with him when he met his second wife, also Nora. They had four more children - Brendan, Des, Declan and Pat.

In the interview today, he also opens up about losing his pension, describing how the crash took his savings.

Play it Again Des (€20) goes on sale on Thursday.

Sunday Independent

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