Friday 24 January 2020

'The future looks like I'm on the back nine, with three holes left to play' Eamon Dunphy on a life less lived

Karl Henry with this weeks guest Eamon Dunphy
Karl Henry with this weeks guest Eamon Dunphy
Kirsty Blake Knox

Kirsty Blake Knox

At the age of 74, broadcaster Eamon Dunphy believes the most challenging years of his life are just ahead of him.

"The future looks like we are on the back nine - maybe three holes to play," he told Karl Henry on the Real Health podcast.

"I will be getting the driver out on every hole," he joked.

The controversial sports pundit left RTE in 2018, and is now acutely aware of age and the what the future holds.

"The future is a matter of wellness and sticking around for as long as I can... The future is a concern for everyone my age. And you worry and you know that the rest of it will be the toughest bit.

"And I am mentally prepared for that, knowing it has been as good as it is going to get. The future will be testing, but, if you have the mental fortitude and have an understanding for what's coming, you are better prepared. So I will delay all the bad things for as long as I can."

Dunphy has had a long and successful career as a broadcaster, pundit and professional athlete.

He is adamant he will keep working - the concept of retirement does not appeal to him.

"The idea that you would retire at the age of 65 and watch daytime television all day or go to the betting shop backing horses?"

He believes the key is to do something you enjoy or are passionate about.

"It helps enormously if you enjoy what you are doing. Being in a job you hate with a boss who is a bully... is a stress and stress is a killer." 

Dunphy moved to the UK when he was a teenager to begin playing football. During the course of his 17 year career he played for Millwall, Charlton, York, Reading, Shamrock Rovers and the Republic of Ireland.

He believes that years of constant training left him with a strong constitution, and encouraged him to remain in good shape for the rest of his life.

"I think someone who was as fit as I was... is always mindful of [fitness] and wouldn't want to get really gross," he said.   

"I was a professional footballer for 17 years so I was very fit - despite being a smoker. I hardly drank at all... I think that 17 years of fitness will stand to you unless you get into excesses and I didn't really. I have a reputation for being a party animal and I have been to a few parties... but I'm not a party animal."

To maintain his fitness Dunphy cycles for 20 minutes everyday and eats healthily.

"I have been lucky in many ways I haven't had many serious illnesses. I definitely would be no paragon, but I don't drink excessively or smoke any more, and I am mentally alert."

Throughout his life and career, Dunphy has often generate headlines; in 2002 he was  banned from driving for 10 years and fined €1,000 for drink driving. 

The negative press the story generated took its toll on him and his family.

"It does get to me... I got two drink driving convictions and the tabs went to town and the implication was that I was dipso - tabloids can hurt you."

He added; " It's painful on the day and for your family as well. That is something that I regret - that my children would be hurt.

"What I always understood - the next day there will be someone else in that box and you will be forgotten. The storm and frenzy that surrounds someone for 24/ 48 hours will dissolve. And in a week's time people will have forgotten." 

He concluded; "People know I am not a saint but I am not a big sinner. Everyone knows what it's like to be in trouble."

"And I have said things on TV that have been "controversial". If you tell the truth about any given situation, it is bound to be controversial - everyone else is gilding the lily, pretending these bums are great men or women and you're saying "no, they're not."

With regards to what advice he would give his 20 year old self, Dunphy said;

"Keep your head down. Don't offend the big cats, and go and do your job everyday. Look after your family. Don't be doing Class A drugs, and don't be wandering around Grafton street high as a kite singing with the buskers, And don't be driving cars when you have had a few."   

Just after two and a half years ago, Dunphy launched his own sports, current affairs and culture podcast, The Stand.

He says he enjoys the freedom and editorial control he now has.

"You are independent, and your own boss."

"It's long-form journalism," he said. "It gives people on a commute or [going] to the gym the chance of listening to a good conversation."

Listeners prefer a detailed analysis of political, and cultural stories - "provided they're not listening to a gobshite", Dunphy says.

"There is this idea that people have short attention spans, but I don't think that's true. I think they have a short attention span if they're listening to a gobshite. But if you have good guests..."

Keep sending your questions in to me via email or contact Karl on Twitter and Instagram @karlhenryPT.

For more episodes and information from the Real Health podcast you can also go to:

The Real Health podcast with Karl Henry in association with Laya Healthcare.

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