End of an era as Liam Brady calls it a day!

by Gazette Reporter
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They were the three unmissable pundits who made RTE soccer coverage more compelling than any other station and for a generation they were part of the highs and lows we experienced under Jack Charlton, Mick McCarthy and Giovanni Trapattoni covering  most of the past three decades.

On Monday night  after the Republic’s 3-0 win over Gibraltar, Liam Brady, the last of the three amigos still working as a panellist with the national broadcaster, announced he was hanging up his mic, thus bringing an end to a golden era of viewing for soccer followers.

Commenting on the Brady, Johnny Giles and Eamon Dunphy partnership under the baton of anchorman Bill O’Herlihy, current panellist Didi Hamann said: “This was a golden age of broadcasting and this group set the standards.”

They certainly did.

Dunphy’s showmanship allied to a keen knowledge, Giles stoicism together with his unparalleled understanding of the game and Brady’s ability to analyse from his massive career bank and translate it for the viewer meant there was literally never a dull moment, particularly with O’Herlihy prepared  to throw in the odd incendiary comment to keep up the explosive nature of their analysis

This panel could be loved or hated, depending on whether it was during a Jack Charlton backlash in 1990 or a stance on the Saipan fallout which saw Roy Keane storm out of the World Cup bound squad in ’02… but for sure it could never be ignored. For the latter, Brady confirmed that Dunphy had refused to talk to Giles or himself because they backed manager Mick McCarthy in that controversy while he was very much in Keane’s corner.

Brady’s bravery to make unpopular statements which he felt were true and stand by them was reflective of his fortitude to leave his beloved Arsenal behind where he was worshipped in the seventies to explore life at Europe’s top club at the time Juventus in Italy. Despite being replaced by arguably the world’s then top player, Michel Platini, after two seasons, the Dubliner is fondly remembered still in Turin for winning the Scudetto in his final game  in ’82 by taking a penalty in a a 1-0 win against Catanzaro which won back to back titles for the  La Vecchia Signora (Old Lady) club. 

‘Chippy’ as he was affectionately known for his love of chips, continued to have a stellar career with Sampdoria, Inter Milan and Ascoli before returning to England to end his 16-year  first class career with West Ham at the age of 34. During that time, he won 72 caps for his country and, but for a clash of philosophy with Charlton, could have and should have been part of the Republic’s halcyon days at Euro ’88 in Germany and Italia ’90 in Italy, where Ireland reached the quarter-finals of the World Cup.

Speaking this week, the 67-year-old former midfield maestro said: “In 1990 I retired as a player at the age of 34. In 2016 I retired from my position in the Arsenal Academy and now I’m announcing my retirement from television punditry with RTÉ Sport.

“I have had the most amazing time working on RTÉ’s football coverage over the last 25 years and it is now fitting that I draw it to a close. I started with the World Cup in 1998 with my great friends Eamon, John and Bill. We had great fun together in between the arguments.”

RTE Head of Sport  Declan McBennett  was fulsome in his tribute to the Northsider who made his debut for his country against the USSR in October 1974 at the age of 18 and served as an RTE pundit for quarter of a century. “Liam will forever be remembered as both a truly great player and a tremendous pundit who brought enormous insight and wisdom to the role of analyst. In the quartet of Giles, Brady, McGrath and Keane, Liam occupies his place in Irish sporting immortality.

“The joy he brought, notably through Arsenal and Ireland, will live on forever, and the recent RTÉ documentary on his broader career across the UK and Italy captured his impact and influence on the Irish and international footballing landscape.

“His later partnership with Eamon Dunphy and Johnny Giles, guided so masterfully by Bill O’Herlihy, helped define modern sporting punditry, with his willingness to forthrightly address issues without fear or favour indicative of Liam’s personality as a whole.”

Giles left the panel in 2016, Dunphy followed two years later and Brady’s exit brings an end to one of the most enduring and erudite groups of pundits ever on Irish or indeed British television.

This week he said he still loved watching the great teams and great players but he had fallen somewhat out of love with the game with the way it was run and with big money (and social media) doing too much of the talking.

His parting shot was this current Irish squad saying “the worst group of players that any manager has had in my lifetime,” was, he acknowledged, hurtful on the players but nevertheless true.

Good old Chippy, telling it like it is right to the very end! And unlike his two amigos, he planned his exit on his own terms  and at 67, was glad to be getting out of the spotlight after half a century in it as a player and a pundit.

PHOTOS – SPORTSFILE

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