'Voice of GAA' lauded at 80
Birthday tributes flow at O Muircheartaigh bash
THE best marketing tool the GAA ever had. That's the doyen of Irish broadcasting, Micheal O Muircheartaigh, according to Taoiseach Brian Cowen.
Mr Cowen led the tributes last night as Micheal was honoured at a celebration to mark his 80th birthday, broadcast live by RTE on the web and also on Raidio na Gaeltachta.
"I have known Micheal personally for over 20 years, but feel I have known him for a lot longer as I have been listening to him since I was a young boy.
"Micheal is the greatest commentator of our time and has been the best marketing instrument that the GAA has ever had", the Taoiseach said.
Despite his age, Micheal marked his 80th birthday a couple of weeks ago by climbing Mount Brandon in Kerry, Ireland's second-highest mountain.
And after travelling to Galway for yesterday's celebrations, he joined his cousin, former president of NUI Galway, Dr Iognaid O Muircheartaigh, for 18 holes at Galway Golf club.
He has a handicap of 11. And he shows no sign of slowing down. "My health is good, thank God and it's not a concern," Micheal said.
So, how long more will we hear those distinctive, bilingual tones on Sunday afternoons?
"Just like all the hurling and football teams, I'll review the situation at the end of the year. Nothing is decided," he said.
He admits to having been an admirer of the late great Scottish rugby commentator Bill McLaren, whom he met on a number of occasions. But he never modelled his commentary on anyone.
His first time behind the microphone was on St Patrick's Day in 1949, when he did the commentary on a Railway Cup match.
"This is as nice a job as you could have and I never took myself too seriously", he said.
Micheal, his wife Helena, their children and extended family members were joined by an array of GAA figures, including players, managers and administrators at last night's celebration. It was hosted by broadcaster Sean Ban Breathnach and former football captain, Dara O Cinneide on behalf of Raidio na Gaeltachta.
Former ard stiurthoir of the GAA, Liam Mulvihill and former GAA presidents, Joe McDonagh and Sean Kelly MEP, as well as the patron of the GAA, Archbishop Dermot Clifford, also took part in the broadcast.
Kerry poet, Gabriel Fitzmaurice composed a special poem for the occasion, while messages of congratulations came from Enda Kenny, Eamon Gilmore, John Gormley and Gerry Adams.
And Micheal's view of the All-Ireland football final? "Down have a great record in finals, but I think Cork might do it," he predicted.