Thursday 12 December 2019

Leave it there so ... Bill signs off with final ‘okey-doke’

Bill O'Herlihy is preparing to sign off for the last time.
Bill O'Herlihy is preparing to sign off for the last time.

Emma Jane Hade

“WE’LL leave it there so.”

With his trademark “okey-doke” ringing in viewers’ ears, broadcasting legend Bill O’Herlihy signed off on his 49-year career.

The 75-year-old sports presenter completed his last live broadcast at the helm of the national broadcaster’s soccer panel last night after Germany clinched the World Cup title.

O’Herlihy (pictured) was treated to a montage of his five decades working at RTE, with tributes from sporting giants including Robbie Keane, Brian Cody and Katie Taylor.

“We’ll leave it there so, okey-doke, goodnight and God bless,” he said as he handed over the reins to colleague Darragh Moloney.

Yesterday morning he admitted he felt “strange” as he headed into RTE for the final time.

“For the first time it’s dawning on me that this is my last day, and that I’m facing the final curtain, as Frank Sinatra would have it,” he said.

“RTE has been so much part of my life, believe it or not for 49 years, in terms of news, features, current affairs and sport.”

However, he said that he wasn’t having any second thoughts.

“The reality is that I have been 49 years working with RTE and I don’t want to be going in on a zimmerframe. The time has definitely come to leave, and I always said ‘go out at the top’,” he said.

He will fly to Spain tomorrow for a break with his wife Hilary but he plans to continue working with his communications firm.

Colleague Eamon Dunphy paid tribute to the “fantastic broadcaster” and said he is “one of the greats, he makes it look easy which, of course, it isn't”.

“His great skill is his ability to listen and to decide what’s important and what’s not. He was our team captain and we will miss him terribly,” he said.

RTE director general Noel Curran said that the Cork native “has been one of RTE's most outstanding broadcasters and his contribution to Irish sports broadcasting has been enormous”.

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