Eamon Dunphy blasts RTÉ for having 'bland' sports pundits

Eamon Dunphy blasts RTÉ for having 'bland' sports pundits

Former RTÉ pundit Eamon Dunphy has criticised his former employer, RTÉ, for prioritising safety over taking risks in sports punditry in 2024.

Since the mid-1980s, Dunphy regularly appeared as an analyst during football coverage on Ireland's state broadcaster. Dunphy was joined by former Ireland internationals John Giles and Liam Brady, and the trio were integral to football coverage in Ireland for many years.

Lines such as those about Rod Liddle and Ronaldo being a showpony were some of the memorable quotes from Dunphy's time as a pundit. However, in July 2018, Dunphy announced his departure from RTÉ after 40 years with the broadcaster.

Dunphy claims that he foresaw RTÉ heading towards blandness before he left his long-standing role.

"I could see the trend towards blandness. Bill O’Herlihy left and died. John Giles got the boot, and I could see the future, and it was bland, and I wasn’t going to sit there through all of that, and they knew it. They didn’t like me," said Dunphy in an interview with the Irish Independent.

When asked why he wasn't liked, the former Millwall player claimed that his old employer would rather play it safe than have someone say anything and wouldn't hold back on shows. This was the reason Dunphy transitioned into the podcast genre after his departure.

"Because they couldn’t predict what I was going to do or say. They like the predictable because it’s safe, and it makes their lives easier if they don’t have a firebrand in the studio," he added.

"Authenticity is key for a journalist and an analyst. They call them pundits. But that’s not a word I like. You wouldn’t call a theatre critic a theatre pundit. It’s snobbish; it’s dismissive.

"There’s a new gang in RTÉ, and they’re pretty mediocre. They think you can make safe programmes for nice people with nice people. I started a podcast in 2016 because I knew what was coming."

Dunphy isn't the only former sports star who has had issues with the state broadcaster.

Former Kerry GAA star Pat Spillane, a Kerry legend, had been part of the Sunday Game panel for 30 years before retiring in the summer of 2022. The Kerry native has stated that several individuals have expressed nostalgia for his presence on television. He refutes the narrative that he was dismissed, claiming that he departed before RTÉ had the opportunity to remove him.

"I left before I was pushed. Believe me, my P45 was prepared and waiting for me, but I refused to grant anyone the satisfaction of declaring me finished, so I departed on my terms," said the Kerry great earlier this year.