Saturday 22 October 2016

Great Bill O'Herlihy moments: Okey doke .... from the silly hat in Italia 90 to poignant final farewell


Bill O'Herlihy pictured with John Giles, Eamon Dunphy and Liam Brady ahead of the FIFA 2014 World Cup Final
Bill O'Herlihy pictured with John Giles, Eamon Dunphy and Liam Brady ahead of the FIFA 2014 World Cup Final
Bill O'Herlihy during Italia 90
RTE World Cup host Bill O'Herlihy with grandchildren Bill O'Herlihy-Ryan (4), Jack Conlon (5) and Martha O'Herlihy-Ryan (5).
Bill O'Herlihy

For 49 years broadcaster Bill O'Herlihy delivered the rollercoaster ride that was Irish sport.

Even when the live football performance was below par, it was compensated by the pure entertainment value of the dialogue between Bill and his colleagues.

In June 1990, he captured the ecstatic mood of the nation after Ireland beat Romania on penalties to progress to the World Cup quarter-final stage.

The RTE host, complete with silly hat, said 'Ciao Roma' ahead of Ireland's game with the host nation.

On one (of many) occasions Bill was forced to intervene after Dunphy made comments about another journalist.

"Ah come on now Eamon, that's out of order," he told his colleague, who eventually apologised for the remarks.

He regularly acted as both a peacemaker and a provocateur with sports commentators, challenging their opinions.


Bill was famously caught out in 2007 by comedian PJ Gallagher on RTE's the Naked Camera when Gallagher pretended to be an incompetent taxi driver.

O'Herlihy managed to keep composed, but did lament "what kind of a fu**ing eejit" once the 'taxi driver' stepped outside of the car.

On another occasion Bill scrutinised the Trapattoni era, retorting to Liam Brady's call that he was being unfair to the Irish manager by saying "I don't think it's below the belt".

A Late Late Show appearance saw the legendary broadcaster come face-to-face with his Apres Match impersonator Risteard Cooper.

"I never say okey doke," Bill protested, much to the delight of Ryan Tubridy.

After five decades, he bowed out of fronting RTE's soccer coverage at the end of last year's World Cup tournament in Brazil, bringing an era to a close.

"My work on soccer and most especially with the three amigos here has been the great highlight of my career," he said.

"Eamon (Dunphy) and I have soldiered since the 70s, John (Giles) since the 80s and Liam (Brady) from the 90s.

"I leave the studio and I'll view your work from the other side of the screen. I wish you continued success, but like the Skibbereen Eagle, I'll be keeping an eye on you.

"We'll leave it there so, okey doke, good night and God bless."

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