Eamon Dunphy on breaking the news of Bill O'Herlihy's death to 'devastated' Liam Brady
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 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.
Grew up watching Bill O'Herlihy. He was working on a new show for RTÉ One at the time of his death earlier, his family says #RIPBill— Eoin English (@EoinBearla) May 25, 2015
We'll leave it there. Interviewed him several times, what a lovely man. #RIPBill— Nobby (@NobbyFM104) May 25, 2015
So sad Bill O'Herlihy has passed away after retiring from RTE so recently. Two giants of broadcasting, Bill and Derek Davis, gone too soon.— Colette Browne (@colettebrowne) May 25, 2015
RIP Bill O'Herlihy. You expertly ran one of the greatest and undoubtedly the most entertaining sports panels of all time. Legend. #RIPBill— Feel Good Lost (@brendan_canty) May 25, 2015
#RIPBIll No one did it like O'Herlihy.— Danny O Driscoll (@dangdriscolls) May 25, 2015
#RIPBill Absolutely crazy... What a legend, will never be replaced!— Matthew Lambe (@Matt_Lambe) May 25, 2015
"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."