Tuesday 12 December 2017

Life lessons with Marty Morrissey

Marty Morrissey has the All Ireland final and the National Ploughing Championships to look forward to.
Marty Morrissey has the All Ireland final and the National Ploughing Championships to look forward to.
The Marty Squad

Meadhbh McGrath

It's one of the busiest weekends of the year for RTÉ presenter Marty Morrissey (56). The host of RTÉ Radio 1's The Marty Squad will be on the ground for the All-Ireland football final tomorrow, before heading to Laois to cover the National Ploughing Championships for the national broadcaster.

An only child, Marty was born in Mallow, Co Cork and raised in the Bronx, New York, until he was 10-years-old. His family returned to Ireland and moved to Quilty, Co Clare, which Marty calls home.

Over the past two decades he has become one of Ireland's most loved broadcasters. Indeed, fans rushed to his defence earlier this summer when RTÉ pundit Joe Brolly made a negative comment on Marty's appearance.

GAA correspondent and commentator for RTÉ Sport, Marty lives in Rathfarnham, Co Dublin and is in a long-term relationship with Liz Kidney.

I still get very excited about the All-Ireland finals. It's a passion, and it's part of our culture. I'm very privileged to be in Croke Park on the day and to see the best footballers in Ireland, and then to get to know them and what it means to them - it's an honour to be there.

I will absolutely, 100pc be starting the day with a fry-up. Then it's all go! I'll be there about 11.30am. I'm not on commentary duty, but I'll be introducing the jubilee team to the crowd around 3pm. When the game is over, then I ask the Dublin and Kerry managers to do a mega favour and allow me into the dressing room to interview the players for The Marty Squad.

When they won the Ulster title, the Monaghan lads allowed me into the dressing room and we had a great sing-song. It was great craic. I'm hoping to do something similar tomorrow in the Dublin or Kerry dressing room.

You really have to work on memorising all the players. If you rely on numbers, you're going to get caught. You have to know their body shapes, if they wear socks up or down, if they wear white or red boots, if one is tall or if one is stocky. It's a bit like Roy Keane says "fail to prepare, prepare to fail".

I'm trying to eat healthy, but I'm failing dismally. I've made a New Year's resolution which begins on September 21. GAA season has been mad busy, and I've loved it, but after the All-Ireland finals are over, I'll be getting my life back. I want to try and lose a bit of weight. Then I'm going to go cycling and play golf and take holidays.

I am honoured and bemused at the same time by my fans. Someone showed me a picture where they'd gone to a stag and they all dressed up as me. They had their little microphones and everything. It's a great compliment that they would want to wear masks and look like this face, which is no George Clooney!

I'm careful with social media. I enjoy it and I try and use it as much as I can for my job. But it can be quite intrusive. I was in a car on my way to Thurles and I hadn't seen what Joe (Brolly) had said about me, but then my phone started lighting up. When I turned to Twitter, it was just gone mad.

They say mimicry is the greatest form of flattery, but when it happens to yourself you say 'gee, am I really like that?' But now I think Mario (Rosenstock) and Oliver (Callan) are brilliant. They're able to slag me off but it never crosses the line and it's never hurtful or insulting, it's all fun. If you give it, you've got to take it, and I'm well able to give it.

I love the intimacy of the radio. TV is a bit more demanding. You have to be conscious of the way you dress and look, while on radio you could be doing it in a tracksuit and runners - not that I would ever do that!

I'm very interested in style. I kind of know what suits me and what doesn't. I'm not a great collar-and-tie man - I prefer a more casual style.

Being nominated for Most Stylish Man at the VIP Style Awards this year was a surprise. I headed down to Louis Copeland and who comes in only Rory Cowan from Mrs Brown's Boys. He tried on a suit, and I told him not to wear it just to give me a chance. What did he do? He went and wore that suit. Rory won the award and it was richly deserved. It was great to be nominated, and anyway it was just a bit of craic.

Sometimes when you're so busy, you need to reconnect with your own crowd. My mother is an only child, my father was an only child, and I'm an only child, so no aunts, no uncles, no first cousins. But I'm very close to my family in Tramore. My mother is home alone in West Clare but she has great friends and she's very involved in the church as a Eucharistic minister, so that keeps her very busy.

Being named Clare Person of the Year 2015 means everything to me. To use a sporting analogy, it's probably my All-Ireland medal. It doesn't mean that I get free parking on O'Connell Street in Ennis, but I was never a person that won a lot, so to get this award and to be recognised by my own crowd is just wonderful - it's the best honour that could be bestowed on me.

I'm very excited about the ploughing championships. And I'm looking forward to working with Aine Lawlor. It also gets me outside my sports box. You don't have to be a country boy like myself or a culchie to enjoy it - it's a whole galaxy of Irish people from Donegal to Wexford, from Kerry up to Belfast. Even if I wasn't working, I would probably be going anyway!

'The Marty Squad' airs on RTÉ Radio 1 on Sunday from 6pm-7pm. 'The Ploughing Live' begins on RTÉ One on Tuesday at 7pm

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