Tuesday 16 January 2018

Eamon Dunphy on breaking the news of Bill O'Herlihy's death to 'devastated' Liam Brady

John Giles, Bill O'Herlihy and Eamon Dunphy
John Giles, Bill O'Herlihy and Eamon Dunphy
Declan Whooley

Declan Whooley

An emotional Eamon Dunphy failed to hold back the tears as he hailed Bill O'Herlihy as a great broadcaster, stating that his ability to engage people with the subject matter set him apart from all others.

The 76-year-old retired television broadcaster passed away this morning and offering his condolences to Bill's wife Hilary and daughters Sally and Jill, Dunphy told Aine Lawlor on RTE Radio's News at One that the Cork native was the model professional.

Bill O'Herlihy with RTÉ soccer pundits John Giles and Eamon Dunphy in 1998
Bill O'Herlihy with RTÉ soccer pundits John Giles and Eamon Dunphy in 1998

"Bill was a great broadcaster," he said. "It's a great tribute to him that RTE would give that job in sport, and not just soccer but the Olympics as well, a great current affairs broadcaster before that with a range of interests and a grasp of his subject, no matter what it was.

"He was a fantastic broadcaster and a very, very nice man. A decent man and great fun.

"He had a journalist's sharp instincts and he'd often pull me up, or Liam Brady in particular. Behind it all, we were all great friends."

He told Game On on 2fm that he had to break the news to Brady this morning.

"We were all friends, very, very good friends. I had to break the news to Liam who is in Spain and he was devastated."

O'Herlihy's style was hugely popular with a wide audience and his ability to stoke debate, inject humour and facilitate detailed discussion on the RTE soccer panel marked him out as somebody special according to his former colleague.

"I think he made a massive contribution to the happiness and understanding that people derived from sport, for all the Olympic Games, for all the World Cups and all the great soccer occasions he presided over.

"He was by far the most important person on that panel. He was the catalyst for all that was good on it.

"That is the essence of good journalism, that you make people want to engage with the subject. You don't make it obtuse, you don't make it something technical. You make it human. To do that requires great skill."

Dunphy praised O'Herlihy's skill at understanding the "contradictions" of the three guests [Dunphy, Brady and John Giles], "playing on that and sometimes making them very angry."

"He was a fabulous man, husband and broadcaster.

"He was at the IFTAs last night because he is chairman of the Film Board and he would love that. He loved the glamour, he never got cynical about sport.

"It was a matter of immense importance to him.

"People had a wonderful fondness for him, he was a wonderful Irishman."

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