THE gloves may be off between Pat Kenny and Ryan Tubridy amid speculation that the two RTE heavyweights could be going head-to-head on the airwaves.
The Herald can reveal how the RTE canteen is buzzing with speculation this weekend that the two personalities could be wading into a determined joust for listeners' loyalty.
And eyebrows have been raised among station insiders at Pat Kenny's naked expression of interest in the vacant slot, which will be up for grabs when Tubridy moves over to 2fm for his new 9-11am programme.
In a far cry from the usual coy attitude of RTE personalities, Pat has sent a clear shot across the bows by confirming to this newspaper how he would be more than happy to gobble up the extra hour in the morning. The veteran broadcaster has decided to throw his hat in the ring and grab the opportunity.
The fact that this mooted two-hour slot would put him in direct competition with the 'young fogey', his successor on The Late Late Show, has not gone unnoticed.
"I'd be happy to serve, if asked. Something strong is needed in that time slot. I've done it before," he said.
Obviously an issue that he has mulled over, he insisted he had no problem exploring a mixed bag of interesting items for the first hour of the programme to give listeners a brief reprieve from all the hard news.
Although RTE has this evening insisted that no decision has been made, Pat seems like the heir-apparent to the vacant slot -- and hasn't been shy about letting his bosses know his feelings on the matter.
Starting directly after the hugely popular Morning Ireland ends at 9am could only help his case, given his established news background which would help ensure a smoother transition for Radio 1 listeners.
Joe Duffy's name was also mooted in connection with the looming revamp but this is looking unlikely, given his established following on Liveline.
And this weekend, tongues are wagging about the prospect of Ryan and Pat fronting rival programmes on the two stations.
"There has long been a perception about a certain rivalry between the pair of them, even though they are very different personalities," said an insider.
"Back when Ryan was fronting his Saturday night show and Pat was still doing the Late Late Show, there were constant reports about who had the bigger ratings over the weekend.
"Then when Ryan took over the programme from Pat last year, he famously said how he hadn't watched Ryan's first-ever Late Late Show. But his successor has definitely proved himself to be well up for the job and would probably welcome some healthy competition."
Ryan Tubridy's agent Noel Kelly has told the Herald how there is "more than enough room for both shows".
"You're talking about two very different shows. Pat's just incredible at current affairs and is brilliant at analysing things in a very forensic way and Ryan is also very good and extremely entertaining at what he does.
"There is definitely room for both shows and I'm sure both will be fantastic," he said.
"Ryan is really looking forward to getting stuck into his first show in August and it's going to be great," he continued.
"He can have some fun on 2fm. I'm sure it will be absolutely super."