herald

Sunday 4 December 2016

From paper apprentice at 15 to top of the game

A young Bill O'Herlihy
A young Bill O'Herlihy

LITTLE did Bill O'Herlihy realise when he walked up Cork's Academy Street in 1953 and into his first newspaper job at the tender age of 15 that he would eventually become one of the best-known figures in Irish media.

Over the course of the next half-century, 'Gentleman Bill' became synonymous with Irish football, shrewd corporate and political PR and broadcasting.

Despite the fact he spent more than 50 of his 76 years in Dublin, Cork was always his home.

Two years ago he admitted that being invited to deliver the General Michael Collins oration at Beal na mBlath in west Cork was "one of the great honours of my life".

Born in Glasheen on Cork's southside in 1938, he attended St Finbarr's College in Farranferris before opting to finish school at 15 and seek a job with the Cork Examiner.

UNDERCOVER

He was offered a full-time job in RTE and joined the flagship current affairs programme Seven Days.

An undercover reporting story brought him into controversy and, almost by accident, he found himself in RTE's sports department.

He then fronted Ireland's Olympic Games coverage from 1972.

However, when he fronted RTE's football coverage from 1978 he found himself making Irish sports history.

Together with John Giles and Eamon Dunphy, the trio re-wrote the football broadcasting manual.

However, controversy was never far away, and Jack Charlton was furious over criticisms of his team's playing style at Italia '90.

There were other rows with Irish managers including Noel King, Eoin Hand, Steve Staunton, Mick McCarthy and Giovanni Trapattoni.

By the time he retired last year, O'Herlihy had fronted 10 World Cups.

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