Dunphy denies 1978 tackle fuelled Noel King criticism

Pundit claims interim Republic of Ireland manager’s response to criticism was ‘intemperate’

Dunphy: he was sent off for kicking me, a bad tackle, but nothing was broken. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/Irish Times

Dunphy: he was sent off for kicking me, a bad tackle, but nothing was broken. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/Irish Times


Eamon Dunphy has denied his criticism of Noel King had anything to do with a reported feud stretching back to their playing days, and described the interim manager’s response to criticism as “intemperate”.

King’s short spell as Republic of Ireland manager has been dominated by a war of words with RTÉ’s soccer panel, specifically Dunphy, who was scathing of the manager’s team selection and tactics against Germany and Kazakhstan.

Dunphy today, however, denied accusations his criticism was being fuelled by a bust-up he had with King during a 1978 League of Ireland match between Shamrock Rovers and Dundalk.

King, who played for Dundalk, was sent off for a crunching tackle on Dunphy, who was nearing the end of his playing days for Rovers.

Responding to suggestions there had been bad blood between himself and King, Dunphy said: “You must be mad. When he got the job I praised him for seven days, then he produced a mad team, and like the other two panellists I criticised the team selection, the formation and the tactics.

“So seven days good, one night critical, and he couldn’t take it. That was the bottom line. If you can’t stand the heat in the kitchen, get out of the kitchen.”

Report denied

Dunphy also denied a report he had been left with a broken nose following his altercation with King.

“He was sent off for kicking me, a bad tackle, but nothing was broken.”

Dunphy insisted his criticism of the manager had been justified.

“I think if you’re paying €35 into a match and inviting people to travel to Germany, they’re entitled to analysis. I mean you wouldn’t put a play on, charge a large amount of money to go, and then send the critics home.

“And it wasn’t just me…it was Liam and John, they’re not controversialists. We didn’t know what he was doing and neither did the players.”

Dunphy said the ultimate comment on King’s time in charge was made by striker Shane Long, who tweeted “Cowboy!! Nuff said” after he was left on the bench against Kazakhstan for a second successive game.

“If there was grudge I wouldn’t have been praising him all last week. There was nothing personal in the criticism,” Dunphy said.

He said King had been “intemperate” in his post-match interview with RTÉ’s Tony O’Donoghue.

“He called myself, John and Liam ‘old’ and [said] that we didn’t understand the modern game. Liam’s the head of the Arsenal youth camp, which is the most successful in Britain.

“There’s no such thing as the modern game, it’s just a game of soccer.

“I think he thought he’d put out this team with this amazing, innovative tactical formation, and he made a balls of it, and we could have lost seven or eight nil.”

Dunphy was speaking at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin, where he led a training session for TDs and Senators ahead of an ESB charity soccer match against journalists on Friday next week.

He said he didn’t want to reopen his war of words with King. “It’s a non-event.”

He said the team requires a new coach, “someone who is experienced and familiar with the players”.

“You couldn’t expect Noel King to transform things overnight - that would be unreal. It was just that he did something that was quite original, unusual and, you know, if you do something like that and it doesn’t work, well what are you supposed to do? Close the television station down?”

He said there was a big debate in Irish soccer about whether or not the players were good enough, “and I think they are”.

“We could have qualified. We were as good, if not better, than Austria and Sweden. ”

He said he believed it was between Mick McCarthy and Martin O’Neill as to who would get the management jobs. He said both men had the qualities and experience to be a good manager.