“It's going to be a feature of your summer folks,” warned Newstalk sports editor Ger Gilroy after sideline reporter Ciarán Murphy interviewed a victorious Kildare manager Kieran McGeeney in Portlaoise yesterday evening.
Gilroy was sitting in the studio headquarters in Dublin having anchored another Sunday of sports coverage.
But it was more than another day for both the station and the GAA.
The Lilywhites’ 0-12 to 0-5 win over Wicklow at O’Moore Park marked Newstalk’s first live championship game broadcast. You could hear the smile in Gilroy’s voice.
It is the first time in history that a broadcaster outside the state-run organisation has been awarded exclusive national radio commentary rights for the All-Ireland senior championships.
They have exclusive live broadcasting rights for 21 games including the Ulster and Leinster football finals, the Leinster hurling decider and two All-Ireland SFC quarter-finals.
Richard Keys – I hate to bring him up – spoke, as he struggled to keep his job recently, of Sky’s early days. The soccer presenter reminisced about he and pundit Andy Gray rocking up to old football stadiums throughout England in vulgar, red jackets and ‘kicking down doors’. It wasn’t long before they were very much part of the establishment.
I don’t know what commentator Dave McIntyre and the aforementioned Murphy wore on their jaunt to the midlands – but they did their best to kick down the door on RTÉ’s summer cartel yesterday.
Among those you’ll hear giving their analysis of the GAA All-Ireland Football Championship as it unfolds will be Meath legend Liam Hayes, Mayo star and Clare selector Liam McHale, former Down All-Ireland winner, Conor Deegan, Mayo’s David Brady, and injured Kildare star, Dermot Earley.
The Newstalk sports team will also bring their views on the hurling action over the summer, joined by legends Derek Lyng (Kilkenny), Daithí Regan (Offaly), Jamesie O’Connor (Clare) and Ollie Canning (Galway).
Yesterday though McIntyre was joined in the gantry (is it still called a gantry?) by Kerry legend Darragh Ó Sé and Hayes. The pair were a welcome addition.
I think it was John Bowman who said this week during the one result of the length of Queen Elizabeth’s stay in Ireland was that by the third day, it seemed pretty normal.
So too the novelty of hearing championship action pump out of the 106 frequency on a summer Sunday soon faded and we just all got on with it.
McIntyre doesn’t sound quite like the now retired Micheal Ó Muircheartaigh yet but he’s a very safe pair of hands and is happy to facilitate more discussion than one gets elsewhere.
Hayes and Ó Sé chipped in regularly – the latter especially adding an almost contemporary eye to proceedings.
At one stage as Kildare racked up wide after wide in the first half shooting from 50 feet out, the former All-Ireland winner drew parallels with former team-mates Colm Cooper and Kieran Donaghy who ‘win their own ball’ if you left it in.
McIntyre too, as well as looking to those on his left and right in the stands threw to Murphy pitchside throughout.
And though billed as a sideline reporter, the Galway native wasn’t scared to offer his own analysis from his sea level perspective. Listeners will know him from bonhomie-filled Off the Ball environment and McIntyre was happy enough to refer to his new weekend colleague as ‘Murph’ throughout.
Unlike most other broadcasters the half-time whistle didn’t, happily, signal a commercial break immediately.
The trio in the commentary position held their ground and picked over the first period’s events.
We did ultimately pop back into Gilroy in Digges Lane and again afterwards for more on sport elsewhere.
It was a good day’s work for the station. ‘Go easy’ , said Gilroy as he signed off happily. We’ll get used to it.