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Bill brought us Italia 90 - and so much more

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One of Ireland's best-loved broadcasters, Bill O'Herlihy, has died aged 76. He was the anchor for decades on some of RTE's flagship soccer and sports coverage, and a major player in public relations. RTE said he died peacefully at home this morning (RTE/PA Wire)

One of Ireland's best-loved broadcasters, Bill O'Herlihy, has died aged 76. He was the anchor for decades on some of RTE's flagship soccer and sports coverage, and a major player in public relations. RTE said he died peacefully at home this morning (RTE/PA Wire)

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Bill O'Herlihy presenting 'Munich '72' in 1972. One of Ireland's best-loved broadcasters, Bill O'Herlihy, has died aged 76 (RTE/PA Wire)

Bill O'Herlihy presenting 'Munich '72' in 1972. One of Ireland's best-loved broadcasters, Bill O'Herlihy, has died aged 76 (RTE/PA Wire)

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One of Ireland's best-loved broadcasters, Bill O'Herlihy, has died aged 76. He was the anchor for decades on some of RTE's flagship soccer and sports coverage, and a major player in public relations. RTE said he died peacefully at home this morning (RTE/PA Wire)

Many of us felt we knew Bill O'Herlihy because he had kept us company on so many great sporting adventures. He helped infuse the colour of many of Ireland's big sporting occasions into the tapestry of our daily lives.

He came into many people's hearts and homes during the heady days of Italia 90, the Ireland soccer team's first and still best ever World Cup campaign. The consummately professional television anchor led a unique panel of experts in sporting chat which by turns informed, entertained and infuriated the Irish nation.

There was national dismay when he finally quit the RTÉ sports studios after the 2014 soccer World Cup. News of his sudden death yesterday dealt a blow of sadness to people the length and breadth of the land.

But the reality is that Bill O'Herlihy had a big role in many other facets of Irish life away from the television camera and the big sporting occasions. He was an accomplished news journalist in print and on television long before he switched to sport. He also founded a prominent public relations firm and was a leading figure in that sector, a role which made him an adviser to and confidant of many big-name politicians.

Bill O'Herlihy was loyal to his Cork roots and his lilting accent meant he could never deny them. His long and distinguished journalistic career began with 'The Cork Examiner'. A long association with RTÉ started in 1965 and he worked with Frank Hall's quirky 'Newsbeat' and the ground-breaking current affairs programme '7 Days'.

His later move to sport on television made him chief sports presenter for a variety of major international events such as the Olympic Games, Fifa World Cups, Uefa European Football Championships and European and World Track and Field Championships.

Bill O'Herlihy's presenting style was deceptively simple, aimed to facilitate others to tell viewers what they knew. Best of all, his work was full of humour.

We extend our deepest sympathy to his wife Hillary and family, relatives, friends, colleagues and many fans across the country.

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam uasal.

Irish Independent