Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 16 April 2014

O Muircheartaigh hangs up his mic

Gaelic Games commentator Micheal O Muircheartaigh said this year's All-Ireland football final between Cork and Down will be his last

Legendary broadcaster Micheal O Muircheartaigh has said he was humbled by the wave of glowing tributes sparked by his retirement.

The 80-year-old commentator, affectionately known as the voice of Gaelic games, said this weekend's All-Ireland clash between Cork and Down will be his last in the press box.

As the country's political and sporting leaders lined up to pay homage to the Kerry man, he modestly insisted that much of the praise for his 62 years of broadcasting was overstated.

"It makes me feel humble really when people go to the trouble and I would say it may be exaggerated," he said. "I don't take myself too seriously and I don't expect others to take me too seriously."

O Muircheartaigh's inimitable style, deep knowledge of the GAA, its players and their families, as well as his often hilarious anecdotes, have endeared him to generations of sports fans.

Regarded as an iconic broadcaster, many households would watch football and hurling matches on silent televisions while listening to his commentary on the radio. The bilingual Dingle man, who regularly weaves Gaeilge into English, first took to the airwaves to commentate on the Railway Cup final in Irish in 1949.

O Muircheartaigh said he enjoyed every day of the following six decades but decided it was time to hang up his microphone.

"I thought about it and I thought, suppose a day came when you wouldn't be enjoying it any longer," he said. "I think it's better to go before that day comes."

Pressed on his favourite moments from the pitchside down through the years, he said he had a "particular gra" for anything that happened for the first time.

"All the breakthroughs, I remember when Offaly won their first football final in '71, hurling in '81, and when Down won in 1960 there was something magic about it," he said."Later on when Donegal did it, Derry, Armagh and Tyrone and Galway winning in 1980, you could make a list from here to the railway goal."

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