RTE rolls out Euro 2012 schedule

 

Whatever else happens in the European Championships, we’ll always have Paris to fight about.

The performance of Ireland against France in the World Cup playoff in 2009 is regarded as the high watermark of Giovanni Trapattoni’s time in charge and let to testy exchanges today at the unveiling of RTÉ’s Euro 2012 coverage.

Former Ireland captain Kenny Cunningham and John Giles rowed like two men watching a game in a pub over whether the players had taken the initiative on that night in Paris in which Ireland won 1-0 in normal time only to be undone by an infamous handball from Thierry Henry, or whether they had been let off the leash by a usually cautious manager.

Cunningham argued that the Irish team have played their best football when behind which necessitated throwing players into “forward area of the pitch”.

Giles countered by saying that he could not understand what Cunningham meant by throwing players forward as you had play your way into forward areas. “Not necessarily,” countered Cunningham who said the Irish system was not set up for such a passing game though Paris was the exception. “To a certain extent we played it in France,” he said.

“To a great extent we played it in France,” replied Giles and so the argument continued for several minutes.

“I’m looking forward to three weeks of this already, never mind the football,” interjected RTÉ presenter Darragh Maloney.

In comparison with other channels, RTÉ’s panel members are regarded as serious football men who have long had a reputation for robust and frank analysis.

There were few surprises in RTÉ’s line-up for the European Championships unveiled today.

It is veteran presenter Bill O’Herlihy’s 17th major football championship and panel members John Giles and Eamon Dunphy are not far behind, yet there has never been a great clamour for change.

Dunphy said he would continue to be the nation’s football contrarian if the occasion demands. “Nobody is under any illusions about the kind of football Trapattoni has favoured at times. At the same time we have a great squad of players. I hope the shackles are taken off.

“You could see at the press conference people are disagreeing. We’re paid to tell people what you think.”

Liam Brady, who was part of Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni back-up team, is tipping Croatia to be the surprise winners of the tournament and, given that they are in the same group as Ireland, he believes both Ireland and Italy will be “very lucky” to qualify for the knockout stages.

He has been involved in some memorably testy exchanges with other panellists most notably Dunphy. He said: “We’re not conditioned by anyone or any thing. For that reason it is very enjoyable. We’ve got to know each other well off camera. We’ve got very strong opinions on the game and other things. Often when you are in studio, you don’t know you are there. You could be in a bar somewhere,” he said.

RTÉ will be covering all 31 games in the tournament amounting to 100 hours of broadcasting.

RTÉ head of sport Ryle Nugent conceded it would be a “massive challenge” given the financial state of RTÉ.

“Like my boss said recently, we could all do with an uplift and this has the potential to provide it for everybody. It changes it from being a huge sports event to a national event and that makes all the difference,” he explained.