Eamon Dunphy was showbiz, baby, and now we could die of boredom
The departing RTÉ analyst was considerably more about entertainment than information
For most RTÉ watchers down the years, “roll it there, Colette” was the most memorable and most oft-repeated phrase they heard on their tellies. But for football devotees it was only number two on the list – the undisputed winner in the category: “Ah God, Eamon, you can’t say that.”
Bill O’Herlihy must have been worn out from uttering the line. John Giles and Liam Brady would leave him to sort it out, usually busying themselves examining the studio ceiling while Eamon went off on one.
When the Eamon in question announced on Wednesday that he was leaving RTÉ after 40 years of being part of its football coverage, the reminiscing commenced.
Like when he said that watching a fawning Garth Crooks interview Sven-Goran Eriksson on the BBC was “the first time I’ve seen two men have sex on national television”.
Or when he described Niall Quinn as a “creep”, an “idiot” and “a Mother Teresa” in the midst of the Saipan emergency.
Or when he said Sergio Ramos was “a nothing player, he’s like Paul McShane on steroids – costs more, but just as likely to get you shot in the head”.
Or when he somewhat doubted Steve Staunton’s competence as Republic of Ireland manager, asking Bill: “Would you let him drive the train to Cork?”
Or when he said the Scots are “either nice or they’re horrid”. “That’s bordering on racism,” said Bill. “It’s not racism, it’s ethnic criticism,” Eamon replied.
Or when he said Cristiano Ronaldo was “a puffball...he will never be a player as long as he has a hole in his arse”.
Or when he responded to Bill quoting Sunday Times columnist Rod Liddle being critical of Roy Keane. “I’ll tell you who Rod Liddle is...he’s the guy who ran away and left his wife for a young one!”
Ah God, Eamon, you can’t say that.
But he did.
His plan now, he says, is to focus on his podcast The Stand, prompting a Twitterer by the name of Gavin Somers to suggest that “Eamon Dunphy leaving a TV job for a podcast is basically the media equivalent of leaving your wife for a young one”.
There could be some truth in that.
But, whatever, our football-on-telly-watching will never be the same again. It’s unlikely, for example, that we’ll ever have another panellist who will suggest that trying to equate Giovanni Trapattoni with Tel Venables “is like comparing Abraham Lincoln with George W Bush”.
And we’ll never have another pundit who is so chilled about spectacularly contradicting himself, such as in the space of a year going from describing Gonzalo Higuain as a donkey to him being one of the top players in Europe.
Or one who suggests he’s an authority on La Liga but then appears to know as much about clubs beyond Barcelona and Real Madrid as the rest of us know about nuclear fusion.
Or one who follows Italian football so closely he didn’t know Alisson, Loris Karius’s new understudy at Liverpool, had been at Roma for two years, suggesting during the 2018 World Cup that he might be on the verge of a move to Europe.
Or appearing to know as much, generally, about 84.3 per cent of the 2018 World Cup qualifiers other than they were big lads and “goers”.
At which point more than a few of us suspected his time was done and RTÉ had to move on.
Careful what you wish for
And now it’s happened it’s a humongous case of be careful what you wish for. Even those who celebrated his departure announcement were the very ones who have spent the bulk of the last 40 years talking about little else other than what Eamon had to say about anything.
Like, say, Kevin Kilbane (“His head is better than his feet – if only he had three heads, one on the end of each leg”).
Now we’re faced with a potentially grim future where knowledgeable analysts will just, well, analyse football games.
We could, potentially, die of boredom.
Eamon was, well, showbiz, baby. He regularly took the piss, he was considerably more about entertainment than information, but is that so bad?
We know how zonal marking works, so we don’t need it dissected, but we’re well up for the lad who plays on the left of Peru’s back three being likened, say, to General Pinochet.
We’ll miss the fecker. Just as we missed Bill, then Gilesie. They oft infuriated us, but then the things that most madden you are often the things you miss the most when they’re gone.
And we’ll miss Eamon. As Michel Platini might put it, not a great analyst, just a good one. But when it came to the gaiety of the nation and chat generation, he was one of a kind.
There’s talk of him running for the presidency.
Bill, may he rest in peace, would crack up.
Ah God, Eamon, you can’t run for that.