Belfast Telegraph

Eamon Dunphy defends Joe Brolly and criticises RTE for axing pundit

Joe Brolly and Eamon Dunphy.
Joe Brolly and Eamon Dunphy.

Harry Clarke

Outspoken pundit Eamon Dunphy has criticised RTE's decision to axe Joe Brolly from their coverage of this week's All-Ireland final replay between Dublin and Kerry.

Mr Brolly featured alongside fellow pundits Ciaran Whelan and Pat Spillane for the drawn game, but came in for criticism for his half-time comments about referee David Gough.

The official sent off Jonny Cooper for a second yellow card late in the first half, with Brolly strongly disagreeing with the decision and saying that Gough was influenced by pre-match comments from former Kerry players and managers.

The former Mayo manager Stephen Rochford will take Brolly's place on the panel, with Mr Whelan and Mr Spillane appearing once again.

Mr Dunphy ended his 40-year association with the national broadcaster last year and he feels that "forthright and honest appraisal of what is going on in a match is not so welcome anymore".

Writing in his Irish Daily Star column, Dunphy said: "To me, the culture has changed in the studio in contrast to a decade ago and before. Once that happens, then that places pundits in a difficult place. The analyst must be supported by his boss and referring back to my final two or three years in Montrose, I did not get the feeling that this was the case."

"At a time when Neville and Keane have added bite to Sky Sports and ITV Sport, the irony and folly of not having Brolly on RTE is all the more puzzling. If Brolly is lost to RTÉ's GAA coverage then it's a blow to its coverage," added Dunphy.

The former Republic of Ireland plyare has previously spoken about how RTE have "lost their nerve" when it comes to hard-hitting analysis and says that it started before Euro 2016 when he claims he was told to tone down criticism towards Martin O'Neill and Roy Keane.

"That was, and still is, quite improper and the idea that a panelist should not give their honest opinion of what is going on is dishonest for the viewer," added Dunphy.

"The softening up the content of analysts is a trend that was in train before I left RTE last year and was one of the reasons why I exited the station after more than three decades working there.

"Once a network goes down that road then it is not being faithful to the customer and viewer any longer. And it's the viewers across the country who are the ones who lose out most. Never, ever forget that they pay the largest part of RTE's annual income through the licence fee."

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