Tuesday 18 December 2018

'He bears grudges' - RTE's Tony O'Donoghue reacts to Martin O'Neill's Ireland departure

Tony O'Donoghue and Martin O'Neill
Tony O'Donoghue and Martin O'Neill

Cormac Byrne

Martin O'Neill and RTE soccer correspondent Tony O'Donoghue were involved in some very tetchy exchanges during the Derry native's five-year term in charge of the Republic of Ireland.

O'Neill famously accused O'Donoghue of a 'verbal attack' after Ireland's 5-1 World Cup playoff defeat to Denmark last year following the UEFA Nations League draw back in January.

It wasn't the first time that O'Neill that they had been involved in tense interviews but it certainly was the most memorable.

Reacting to the news of O'Neill's departure on Today with Sean O'Rourke on RTE Radio One, O'Donoghue said: "The reporter should never be the story, should they, and in that instance I was only trying to ask questions in that I expected the viewers and listeners wanted asked.

"He's a man who is sensitive to criticism and that's just not to me or to RTE, but I mean, recently we haven't had the live rights and I've seen him take offence to other reporters as well.

"Right back through his career, when he was a player with Nottingham Forest, people would write letters to the local newspaper and he would take note of them and at the end of a good season with Nottingham Forest he would write back to them.

"So he bears grudges and didn't enjoy or take criticism, I suppose none of us, take criticism lightly. Again, that's another reason he was determined, I'd say, to stay on and to, I suppose, improve or leave a better legacy in his wake as Republic of Ireland manager."

O'Neill had been at the helm since 2013, leading the country to the last 16 of Euro 2016, and stands down by mutual consent after a disappointing UEFA Nations League campaign.

O'Donoghue did point out that there had been many memorable moments including the victory over then World champions Germany at the Aviva, the playoff win over Bosnia and the win over Italy at Euro 2016 that sent us through to the knockout stages of the competition.

"You have to look at the other side of it as well and say the games where he was in charge, there have been highlights... we did beat world champions Germany, we beat Bosnia, at a much higher seed than us, we beat Italy at the European Championship and, away from home, where we couldn't buy a win for years, we beat Austria.,"

"Those are things that will definitely go in the credit column. Although there's a lot in the debit as well."

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