GAA Football

Joe Brolly's RTÉ career at an end after final replay snub

Joe Brolly has been involved in a number of controversies in his years with RTÉ 

JOE Brolly has appeared on RTÉ for the last time as a GAA pundit, The Irish News understands.

Although he remains under contract with RTÉ, it’s believed that his appearance on the live show for last Sunday’s drawn All-Ireland SFC was his last with the broadcaster.

RTÉ announced yesterday that he would be replaced by Donegal coach Stephen Rochford for this Saturday’s live broadcast of the replay between Dublin and Kerry, and that he wouldn’t feature on either the evening highlights show or the day’s radio panel.

Pat Spillane and Ciaran Whelan will join host Joanne Cantwell for the live programme, with Ger Canning and Kevin McStay on commentary duty.

The evening highlights show will feature Colm O’Rourke, Sean Cavanagh and Tomás Ó Sé alongside Des Cahill, while Alan Brogan, Conor McManus, Colm Cooper and Oisin McConville will all feature on RTÉ Radio 1’s live coverage of the game.

Joe Brolly on Sean Cavanagh

The former All-Ireland winning Derry forward, who turned 50 earlier this year, has been the most high-profile sports pundit in the country since beginning his stint with The Sunday Game almost two decades ago.

Brolly brought his own compelling style to punditry and divided opinion over the course of his television career, which he now faces a battle to retain given his outspoken criticism of the GAA’s other major broadcast partner, Sky Sports.

The Dungiven native, a barrister by trade, has been at the heart of a series of controversies during his time with RTÉ.

Joe Brolly insults Marty Morrissey

The most recent followed last Sunday’s drawn decider between Dublin and Kerry, where Brolly claimed that referee David Gough had been “influenced by Kerry propaganda” in his decision to send off Jonny Cooper before half-time.

Brolly revealed in his Gaelic Life column last week that he had subsequently contacted Gough to apologise for his comments.

It’s understood that the incident had no bearing on the parting of ways between RTÉ and Brolly.

In a recent interview with The Irish Star, Brolly revealed that his only regret from his time on TV was his jibe at colleague Marty Morrissey, to whom he referred as being “as ugly as Cavan football”.

"It was a very insulting and a very personal thing. It was uncaring and cruel,” he said recently.
Arguably his most famous outburst was a tirade launched at Sean Cavanagh after he pulled down Conor McManus when the Monaghan forward had a late goal chance in their 2013 All-Ireland quarter-final defeat by Tyrone.

Brolly blasted that “you can forget about Sean Cavanagh as far as he’s a man”, for which the now-former RTÉ pundit also apologised in a phone call days later.

For more than a decade, he formed part of a trio with Pat Spillane and Colm O’Rourke that fronted the channel’s GAA coverage, and the former Derry forward was popular with many viewers who liked his straight-shooting approach to analysis.

A two-time Ulster SFC winner and an Ulster Club winner with his native Dungiven in 1997, Brolly is now involved in coaching with St Brigid’s club in Belfast.

Also a widely-read Sunday newspaper columnist, Brolly’s views have often conflicted with those of the GAA, particularly in relation to the organisation’s apparent move away from its amateur ideals.

Away from football, he became the face of organ donation in Ireland after he donated a kidney to friend Shane Finnegan in 2012, and then set up the Opt For Life foundation, which campaigned on both sides of the border for an opt-out donation policy.

Brolly has also been touted for a potential run for political office, but has spoken of his discomfort with the idea.

His becomes the second high-profile exit at RTÉ in under 18 months, after long-serving soccer pundit Eamon Dunphy.

Last year saw his 40-year association with the broadcaster brought to a close, after which he claimed that “RTÉ have lost their nerve hugely, and that is something that can’t be fixed, except by strong people, but they want strong people out the door. They weren't unhappy when I said I was leaving.”

The news of Joe Brolly’s time being up is likely to divide opinion once more – just as it ever was.

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