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RTÉ axing GAA pundit Joe Brolly would be 'serious loss' says Colm O'Rourke

GAA pundits Joe Brolly and Colm O'Rourke, and inset, how The Irish News reported on Brolly's omission from RTÉ's coverage
Brendan Hughes

GAA pundit Colm O'Rourke has said RTÉ axing Joe Brolly would be a "serious loss" and warned that "the last thing you need is blandness".

O'Rourke, a regular on the The Sunday Game alongside Brolly, said he is "not clear what exactly has taken place" but hopes his fellow pundit will return.

Brolly's RTÉ career is over following his omission from the commentary team for this weekend's coverage of the All-Ireland final replay, The Irish News understands.

It is understood that despite remaining under contract with the national broadcaster, he will not be returning to the screen.

Brolly has declined to speak publicly about the snub, which has prompted fevered debate among GAA fans.

He tweeted on Wednesday: "If anyone has a spare ticket for the replay, I've just been let down."

O'Rourke, who will be on the evening highlights show for Saturday's match between Dublin and Kerry, said he is unsure whether Brolly has been axed entirely.

Read More: Brendan Crossan: Ditching the colourful Joe Brolly was the wrong move by RTÉ

"I'm not clear what exactly has taken place with him, but I think he would be a serious loss to punditry and analysis of games," he told The Irish News.

"While he may divide opinion, he offers different views and people are in a position to agree or disagree with him. I think the last thing you need is blandness."

He added: "I haven't spoken to him. I'm not clear exactly on whether he was not available for Saturday or whether it was just a once off, but I presume and would hope he would be back next year."

Brolly has been a regular fixture on both The Sunday Game's live show and highlights programme for almost two decades.

The 1993 All-Ireland winning Derry forward will be replaced on Saturday by Donegal coach Stephen Rochford.

Praising Brolly, O'Rourke added: "Pundits, their role is to look at something maybe with a critical eye and give strong opinion. I think his value has not just been on the actual game itself, but on the wider context of the GAA and how it fits into our society."

Brolly has been involved in various controversies on The Sunday Game, with the latest coming during the final between Dublin and Kerry.

In his half-time comments, Brolly said referee David Gough "must have been clearly influenced by the propaganda coming from Kerry" in deciding to send off Dublin defender Jonny Cooper. Brolly later said he contacted Gough to apologise.

Sean McGlinchey, a committee member of St Canice's GAA club in Brolly's native Dungiven, described RTÉ's handling of the apparent axing as "diabolical".

He said "without a doubt" he would hope Brolly is reinstated as he is "interested in Joe's comments because he's very quick and to the point".

"The timing of it is diabolical. After all his services they should have let him have his last match," he said.

But the Sinn Féin councillor acknowledged there would be "mixed views" on his GAA and media commentary.

"He is a controversial figure but he is well-respected and a great community man down here. The work that he does unseen – a very genuine man and well-respected in that aspect," he said.

"People just have mixed views about the way he conducts himself in the press and media at times."

Former Sunday Game presenter Michael Lyster told The Irish Sun it would "not have been uncommon for us to change the panel.. from one match to a replay".

An RTÉ spokesperson said: "Joe remains under an RTÉ contract and we can't comment beyond that."

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