RTÉ set agenda 'without fear or favour'
Kevin McStay has described his 18 years on The Sunday Game as a "special time in my life" - and defended RTÉ's flagship Sunday night highlights show against accusations that it was too much of an agenda-setter for the GAA.
The Mayo forward-turned-pundit is departing the Montrose studios - as well as these pages of The Herald, where his widely-read column appeared for eight championships - to become joint-manager of Roscommon.
During his time in RTÉ, The Sunday Game's role in highlighting disciplinary flashpoints elicited mixed opinion - with affected counties usually loudest in their criticism.
But McStay insisted that "the standard of editorial critique on The Sunday Game has been beyond reproach in the 18 years. I can say that, straight out. It has been outstanding."
He added: "It's a huge programme - half a million people watch it on a regular basis, I think. Of course it's going to set the agenda. Like, our view always on a Monday or Tuesday was did something come out at the weekend that we didn't get? That would be the measure."
However, any issues highlighted had to be "legitimate and correct and proper." While certain pundits may have aired "strong opinions", the editorial meetings were always conducted "without fear or favour" and there was "never a sense" of going after a player or incident.
McStay paid tribute to various RTÉ personnel who drove the show during his time, name-checking Paul Byrnes, Colm McGee, Rory O'Neill, Bill Lalor, Maurice Reidy, presenters Michael Lyster and Des Cahill.
And he had high praise for Ciarán Whelan, describing the former Dublin midfielder and fellow Herald columnist as "the best football analyst - and also my favourite one".