RTÉ’s Après Match team ready to tackle new characters during Euro 2016
Kevin Kilbane, Gerry Armstrong and Jimmy Nesbitt in the firing line
The Après Match team of Risteard Cooper, Gary Cooke and Barry Murphy will be an intrinsic part of RTÉ’s TV coverage of the Euro 2016 finals. Photograph: Domhnall Farmer/Inpho
In their comedic sights are old favourites like John Giles, Liam Brady and Eamon Dunphy but they will also be mining plenty of new material, picking up on the peccadillos of Kevin Kilbane, Gerry Armstrong, Jimmy Nesbitt, Darragh Maloney, Peter Collins and in particular TV3’s soccer panel that includes anchor Tommy Martin, Neil Lennon and Joey Barton.
The Après Match trio first appeared following each of the Republic of Ireland’s qualifying matches for the 1998 World Cup and have provided many memorable moments down the years as an irreverent comedy adjunct to the serious business of soccer punditry.
Cooper explained that the team are looking forward to tackling new characters. One person who won’t feature as prominently is the late, great RTÉ soccer anchor Billy O’Herlihy. “The only situation I’ll do him is if we are looking back on something. We have a couple of ideas where we are looking back in order to make a point about the present. I might do him in that scenario.
“His family, his daughters Jill and Sally, and his wife Hilary, they’ve been saying: ‘Don’t feel bad about doing him.’
“From their point of view it keeps his memory alive and keeps it going. I actually did him in a live context after he had died. It’s slightly strange territory. The man himself was amazing and such a huge character but there has to be context.
“It’s funny that when we meet to discuss ideas in the context of Après Match we automatically go into doing a version of Bill O’Herlihy. It’s in our vernacular, our DNA. If somebody makes a pretty silly point or somebody is going on too long, I just come in with ‘alright’ or ‘okey doke’. Everyone knows that is the signal to stop talking or what they’re saying is quite pointless. The other reason is in Darragh Maloney and Peter Collins, there is plenty of material there.
“The TV3 factor, the fact that they are doing half the games, is going to unearth a whole new chapter from our point of view. Inevitably they will be part of it. Kevin Kilbane is someone I have been working on. He is the new Mark Lawrenson in that he’s doing commentary for TV3, analysis for BBC, updates on BBC Radio 5 Live and then goes on Today FM to do the summation. He is omnipresent. He’s new.
“We are going to do a lot more northern characters because Northern Ireland are involved. Gerry Armstrong is another new character.”
The Aprés Match slot is about five minutes at the end of that particular day’s television match coverage and will feature, according to Cooper, “a review of what we have just seen or a sketch on its own merit”.
They will also have a one-hour highlights programme.
In conjunction their RTÉ work, the Après Match team will travel around Ireland for a series of live appearances during the tournament.