Friday 22 March 2019

Retirement came when Bill was 'at the top' of his game, just as he wanted


MUCH-loved Bill O'Herlihy's final "okey-doke" to fans came at the end of last summer's World Cup.

The late broadcaster's stellar career, which took in ten World Cups and ten Olympic Games, came to a fitting close when he anchored coverage of Germany's triumph over Argentina in the World Cup final.

"We'll leave it there so, okey-doke, goodnight and God bless," an emotional Bill said to viewers at the end of the show.

During that show he was treated to a montage of his five decades working at RTE, with tributes from sporting giants, including Robbie Keane, Brian Cody and Katie Taylor.

At the time of O'Herlihy's retirement, RTE boss Noel Curran described him as one of the station's "most outstanding broadcasters".

His long-time friend, football pundit Eamon Dunphy said that O'Herlihy was "our team captain" adding "we will miss him terribly".

John Giles wished him well in his retirement and thanked him "for all the great memories over the years".

To Liam Brady he was "always a great team manager".

"That's what we are, a team, and Bill managed us very well.

"He particularly looked after me as it was my first gig. John and Eamon were established and I had never done it before. He looked after me and I'm going to miss him," he said upon O'Herlihy's retirement.


There was a touching moment in his final week behind the World Cup desk when his daughters Jill and Sally brought his grandchildren to visit him on set.

Bill O'Herlihy-Ryan (4) arrived wearing his German World Cup jersey along with sister Martha (6) and cousin Jack Conlon (5), who wore his beloved Barcelona colours.

"Jack knows more about football than I do," O'Herlihy told The Herald at the time.

He said he was glad to be retiring after almost five decades.

"I'm sure I'll miss it. But it's time to go and I'm quite happy," he said.

He spoke to RTE Radio's Marian Finucane on his last day with the broadcaster, saying it felt "strange" to head into the Montrose studios for the final time.

"It's dawning on me that this is my last day, and that I'm facing the final curtain, as Frank Sinatra would have it," he said.

"RTE has been so much part of my life, believe it or not for 49 years, in terms of news, features, current affairs and sport."

However, he said that he wasn't having any second thoughts.

"The reality is that I have been 49 years working with RTE and I don't want to be going in on a Zimmerframe. The time has definitely come to leave, and I always said 'go out at the top'," he said.

O'Herlihy had since then continued to work with his communications firm that he established in the 1970s.

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