So that’s a wrap. Eamon Dunphy has unclipped his RTÉ microphone for the last time. The veteran broadcaster and former professional player has entertained, enraged and made us talk for 40 years as one of RTÉ’s main soccer analysts.
He has been on camera since 1978 but it was in 1990 and the Irish adventure at Italia ’90 that he became so much more, entering popular culture for his contrary views on Jack Charlton and being immortalised with the line of a ‘Dunphy and Chips’ in place of a battered sausage and chips in Roddy Doyle’s The Van. When asked why the protagonist in the book replied that ‘he looked like a prick.’
Many thought he sounded like one as well at times, Cristiano Ronaldo perhaps being one if he ever got to hear Eamo’s withering attacks on him as merely a poser.
He never held back but he always backed up his assertions with some fairly astute commentary on the games he was paid to watch first and most memorably alongside Bill O’Herlihy and John Giles and then with the addition of Liam Brady, Darragh Moloney and many more down the years.
They elevated the post-match analysis to being the conversation starter in every playground, workplace and pub in the country.
Compared to what is offered by other channels like the BBC or ITV it was a different world of no holds barred, a few laughs and real feeling.
It made RTÉ’s coverage unmissable, at times regardless of the quality of the game.
There were pen throwing incidents, swearing, apologies, vendettas, sideways looks from Giles and warm encouragement from ‘Billo’.
They were our guides through some of Ireland’s most memorable moments, the clowns that made us laugh, the wise heads that made us think.
Now Bill is gone to his eternal rest, John is left to remind us in documentaries about just what a legend he is and Eamon will be trying the same ‘auld shtick in the podcast world as opposed to the mass market of television.
Everything passes and the most you can do is leave a mark as you pass by. Those lads did that in spades. We should be grateful we had an opportunity to watch.
Starting next month, Sport for Business will publish a weekly interview slot with the sporting commentators that provide the colour and analysis that shape our view of sporting action. We are looking forward to it.