RADIO station Newstalk have confirmed that they have parted company with the presenting staff from their award-winning ‘Off the Ball’ programme.
Presenter Eoin McDevitt, Ken Early, Ciaran Murphy, Simon Hick and Mark Horgan have resigned according to the station after over a decade on the evening sports show.
The decision came after the crew requested to take an hour off the George Hook show and go on the air at 6.00pm but that was turned down by the station.
It’s thought station chiefs felt this did not make sense commercially and would also affect audience figures.
Insiders said the Off the Ball team also turned down the opportunity of an extra Saturday morning slot.
Signing off his coveted drivetime slot, presenter Geoge Hook said: “It is a bit different for us today because of course ‘Off the Ball’ the lads have gone elsewhere and tonight you won’t have Eoin McDevitt but Ger Gilroy - the man who dreamt the whole thing up over a decade ago.
“So it is ‘Off the Ball’ but in a new guise with some new voices and I hope you enjoy their sport as much as you enjoyed sport with the previous group. One thing you can be certain of is Newstalk will deliver sport as it has always does in an informative and interesting way.
“So give them a chance - tune in.”
New presenter Ger Gilroy said as his opening remarks tonight: “First things first, we didn’t really expect to be here tonight but we are. That is because the lads made a pitch to start the show every night at 6pm. Station management couldn’t accommodate that, and the lads have decided to resign.
“All I really want to say about this now is we are going to miss our friends. Ken, Eoin, Mark, Simon and Murph are an amazing group of people to work with they helped change how sport is talked about in Ireland forever, they make great radio and they help make radio great. We are all going to miss them and I wish them the very best of luck in the future.”
A statement from Newstalk earlier this afternoon read: “Newstalk has confirmed that Eoin McDevitt, Simon Hick, Ken Early, Ciaran Murphy and Mark Horgan have resigned from its sports department.
“Ger Gilroy, Newstalk Sports Editor, who devised Off the Ball in 2002, will be joined by mainstays of the Newstalk sports team - Cian Murtagh, David McIntyre and Joe Molloy - in taking over the running of the show.
“Newstalk would like to thank Eoin, Simon, Ken, Ciaran and Mark for their contributions to the station and wish them luck in their future endeavours.”
It’s thought the sports crew wanted to work out an eight week notice period but Newstalk decided it was better to terminate the relationship immediately.