Broadcasting legend Micheal O’Muircheartaigh joined us in the studio for Wednesday’s OTB:AM as he shared his personal stories and gave his views on the modern landscape of GAA.
The 87-year-old, who gave his final commentary in the 2015 All-Ireland football final between Cork and Down, showed all the quick wit and energy listeners have come to know him for.
Here, Off The Ball picks out three things we learned during his appearance on the show.
The first sports broadcast in Ireland
Micheal, often referred to as the “voice of Gaelic games”, detailed how the first broadcast on a field sport anywhere came about.
On 1 January, 1926, the first radio station broadcast in Ireland was by 2RN, where Douglas Hyde – later named as Ireland’s first president – was heard on the station.
But it was later that year in August that the birth of sports broadcasting came about as Paddy Mehigan commentated on the All-Ireland Hurling semi-final between Kilkenny and Galway, following an impromptu visit to Croke by a 2RN employee who pitched the idea.
A commentator who can coach too
Not only could Micheal bring a unique style to the broadcasting sphere, he was also a trusted leader of men – Kerry footballers to be exact.
Players for the Kingdom who were based in Dublin working as civil servants, teachers or attending college, found themselves under the tutelage of O’Muircheartaigh.
“We used to gather in different places and ‘kick around’ – there weren’t major tactics,” O’Muircheartaigh told Off The Ball.
“We didn’t have enough numbers to do it on our own, we had six or seven Kerry players. But we were open to anyone from any county.
“We’d train together and then they might be playing in a match against each other the following Sunday – that didn’t matter.
“I used to say to them: ‘look, we’re all training together. When you go out in the match, you have a job to do, I have a job to do, and let’s enjoy the whole thing’.”
The changing role of the journalist in the modern game
Micheal researched the background of the players he was commentating on in such depth that it was almost as if he knew them personally.
Gone are the days of witnessing a player suffer cramp in the changing room before seeing them replaced in the starting line up.
“Journalists aren’t allowed into the dressing room now and I think that’s a pity,” O’Muircheartaigh said.
“There’s no point having them locked in thought in the dressing room. It was common in those early days to see people smoking in the dressing room.
“Things have changed a lot, but a lot of it is for the better really.”