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"You're fired, You're fired!" | Lyster revisits Pat Spillane causing uproar on Sunday Game


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Revisiting one of the madder moments on The Sunday Game, former host Michael Lyster recalled an incident where Pat Spillane almost had everyone out of a job. 

Spending over thirty-years as the chair of RTE's Sunday Game, one would have reason to believe Michael Lyster when he suggests there are plenty of stories to be told.

Exploring facets of his career on the flagship show for the GAA, the Galway native recalled the particular devilment of recurring panelist and Kerry legend, Pat Spillane.

"Every second Sunday ya," Lyster replied to the query that if he'd ever worried he and his panelists would get in trouble on Tuesday's OTB AM.

"Some of the things the fellas said. Going back a fair few years, on the night-time programme that I was doing at the time, there was an Ulster Championship match between Derry and Tyrone.

"It was a fractious affair and Pat Spillane was doing the analysis, and he described the Derry players as thugs."

One of any number incendiary remarks uttered by Spillane in a studio setting, the blow-back was near immediate.

The following week was a hurling Sunday, but the then Head of Sport Tim O'Connor insisted that Pat come back and apologise

Pat Spillane

"The manure hit the fan," Lyster explained, "and the Derry county board were getting ready to sue everybody in sight.

"The following week was a hurling Sunday, but the then Head of Sport Tim O'Connor insisted that Pat come back and apologise.

"There was no way Pat wanted to do this."

"Marched up to Dublin" as Lyster recalls it, Lyster was charged with keeping Spillane 'on-message' before his surprise appearance.

"Pat rattled on, 'I suppose in the heat of things I used the word thugs, I accept I used that word, but God almighty they committed criminal acts out there.'

"After the programme finished, Tim O'Connor was on the phone out in the control room waiting for me."

Amid a ten-minute barrage from RTE's Head of Sport, all Lyster truly recalls is, 'You're fired! You're fired!'

"Spillane was then wheeled back for a third occasion, a second go at this thing, and Tim O'Connor had him by the lapels.

"He had written a script for him, 'If you change one word on that script I'll kill you.'

"So, that was one of many from across the years."

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