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RTÉ Head of Sport has no regrets on Joe Brolly decision

RTÉ's Head of Sport Declan McBennett is adamant that the right decision was made to remove Joe B...

RTÉ Head of Sport has no regre...

RTÉ Head of Sport has no regrets on Joe Brolly decision

RTÉ's Head of Sport Declan McBennett is adamant that the right decision was made to remove Joe Brolly from The Sunday Game before last year's All-Ireland football final replay. 

After many years working with the national broadcaster, Joe Brolly was removed from his position on RTÉ's The Sunday Game panel after 2019's drawn All-Ireland final between Dublin and Kerry.

A decision that was announced in the build-up to the replay, Stephen Rochford was selected to replace the Derry native on the panel.

"The decision was made and I was happy to stand over the decision and I believe it was the right decision," stated RTÉ's Head of Sport Declan McBennett in a lengthy interview with the Irish Independent

"The optics didn't concern me. Because I'm not about the optics. To my mind, it was about putting the best people on the replay. We brought in Stephen Rochford."

Joe Brolly 2 September 2018; RTÉ Sunday Game presenter Michael Lyster, right, with panalists, from left, Colm O'Rourke, Joe Brolly and Pat Spillane ahead of Lyster's final Sunday Game broadcast. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

In the aftermath of this decision, it wasn't immediately clear whether or not Brolly had any future with RTÉ.

As it became clear that the outspoken pundit and columnist's contract would run no longer, however, he decided to speak out on what he believed had been some unwelcome changes within the organisation.

"Very quickly, things became much more controlled and scripted," he explained to Off The Ball of how he saw things after McBennett's appointment as Head of Sport in 2018.

"It was very, 'don't say that, don't say this.' For the All-Ireland final, we virtually got a script!"

Nevertheless, in his interview with the Irish Independent, McBennett outlined what he sees as the fundamental requirements of any RTÉ pundit and where Brolly, by extension, was lacking.

"There are three reasons why you get a seat," he explained. "Credibility, informed opinion and the ability to articulate that opinion.

"If you're a pundit and a contract gets cancelled, you have to ask yourself why. And I think if you examine those elements already mentioned, it probably answers that question for everybody.

"Part of RTÉ's remit, whether we like it or not, is to put the most credible people there. Credibility is a huge element of what we do."

Although in conversation with Off The Ball Brolly suggested that his contract had been cancelled due to an exchange with Pat Spillane during The Sunday Game broadcast in the drawn All-Ireland final, McBennett has long rejected this claim.

"[It wasn’t down to] one thing in isolation but a combination of examples," he explained on an Irish Examiner podcast earlier this year.

"I don’t believe in the manipulation of public opinion. I believe in standards that are informed, that are based in some sort of fact, not statistical data that has to be churned out but based in fact."

You can watch back Joe Brolly's full interview with Off The Ball shortly after his parting with RTÉ here

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Read more about

Colm O'rourke Declan McBennett GAA Gaelic Football Joe Brolly Michael Lyster Pat Spillane RTE The Sunday Game