Voice of GAA blows time on career that won nation's hearts
MÍCHEÁL Ó MUIRCHEARTAIGH RETIREMENT:POLITICIANS AND public figures paid warm tributes to Mícheál Ó Muircheartaigh yesterday after he announced his retirement from broadcasting.
He will provide commentary on his last All-Ireland final on Sunday when Cork face Down at Croke Park. He will also be in the commentary box for the International Rules Series between Ireland and Australia next month.
President Mary McAleese said the 80-year-old Kerryman was an erudite, beloved, iconic figure. “His name just brings a smile to people’s faces. He also brings pride to people’s hearts,” she told RTÉ’s News at One.
“He’s a figure of pure goodness and honour and decency.”
She said it was sad to think that those commentaries might be coming to an end. “I have my doubts about all this, you know. I know that Mícheál is retiring. He has blown the whistle on himself, but I’ve a funny feeling there’s still plenty of extra time in him.”
She said people listened to him not only for the brilliant commentary but because they never knew what he would say next. “Will you ever forget listening to him talking about Seán Óg Ó hAilpín: the father from Fermanagh, the mother from Fiji and neither of them a hurling stronghold?”
Taoiseach Brian Cowen described the broadcaster as “an unassuming legend” and a “treasured national institution”.
He said Ó Muircheartaigh was one of the most popular and admired figures in Irish life. “He is also a great gentleman and despite his remarkable success, he has remained the most modest and gracious of men.”
GAA president Christy Cooney said the broadcaster’s attention to detail, recall and natural passion for Gaelic games had helped portray the essence of what made football and hurling so appealing to supporters around the globe.
Minister for Sport Mary Hanafin said she was planning to honour Ó Muircheartaigh’s unique contribution in the near future. “His lyrical Kerry voice and descriptive passages, as he paints the picture on the field of play, brings all listeners in communities at home or abroad on to the stands at the game to await with bated breath to hear if the point is scored or the green flag raised or, indeed, who the scorer’s father was.”
She said he was “a gentle but passionate man who in both languages brings a sense of place, a sense of time, a sense of the sport into not only the homes of people all over the country but into the hearts of people”.
Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny said the broadcaster’s decades working as a teacher and advocate for Gaelscoileanna showed a man who loved his community and cared for those around him.
“I have known Mícheál for years and he is as warm and colourful in person as he is on air. He truly is the voice and the heart of the GAA and his presence will . . . be missed by Irish people the world over.”
Labour Party leader Eamon Gilmore said Ó Muircheartaigh’s voice had come to embody not just Gaelic games, but the very country and culture of Ireland. “Mícheál has been a man of immense public spirit and is known to selflessly give of his time to visit local schools and GAA clubs, promoting Gaelic games and promoting the Irish language,” he said.
Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams said his “exciting and insightful commentary will be greatly missed”.
Voice Of A Legend Ó Muircheartaigh In His Own Special Words
“ Pat Fox out to the forty and grabs the sliothar. I bought a dog from his father last week. Fox turns and sprints for goal… the dog ran a great race last Tuesday in Limerick… Fox, to the 21, fires a shot – it goes to the left and wide… and the dog lost as well.”
“If the streaker doesn’t mind, it will be going over his direction now. He sees that, he sees the danger.
He’s moving out the field now towards open territory on the far side of the field, and the ball goes out over the line, Hogan Stand side of the field. The stewards are moving in on him now from all sides...
He’s now gone past the centre of the field. Níl fhios agam cad as a thánaig sé. B’fhéidir piobaire sídh slí Gleann Molúra é. He’s dodging his way now, trying to get away from the maor.
He has made a good run. He’s on the 50-yard line now on the other side of the field, he’s brought to the ground... tá an streaker ag imacht an páirc.”
“He grabs the sliothar, he’s on the 50! He’s on the 40! He’s on the 30! He’s on the ground.”
“Seán Óg Ó hAilpín... his father’s from Fermanagh, his mother’s from Fiji. Neither a hurling stronghold.”
Charlie gets it on the 50-yard line... over the shoulder, in towards the goal by Charlie Carter and over the bar. Charlie Carter, who was more interested in the dressing room an hour ago about how my greyhound performed at Shelbourne Park last night than the impending hurling final.
He’s doing better at the hurling today than the greyhound did at the hurdles last night. Didn’t jump them well, the puckout coming now from Stephen Byrne...”
“We have (listening) three TCD students who are studying Chinese Mandarin in Taipei in Taiwan. Could you say in Chinese ‘ni hao ma?’ That means ‘conas atá tú?’ in Chinese.”
Teddy looks at the ball, the ball looks at Teddy.”
“Stephen Byrne with the puckout for Offaly. Stephen, one of 12. All but one are here to-day, the one that’s missing is Mary, she’s at home minding the house.
And the ball is dropping i lár na bpáirce...”
“The stopwatch has stopped. It’s up to God and the referee now. The referee is Pat Horan. God is God.”
“And we’re listening to Sunday Sport on Radio One. And through the internet and everything it’s going all over the world and maybe beyond.