Northern Ireland news

RTÉ receives more complaints about axing Joe Brolly than about his original remarks

Joe Brolly posted this photo with his friend Shane Finnegan on the day of the All-Ireland final replay, with the caption: "One door closes. Another opens." Picture from Twitter
John Monaghan

THERE were more complaints to RTÉ over the broadcaster's decision to axe Joe Brolly as a sports pundit than there were about his original controversial comments.

Brolly was removed from the RTÉ punditry team after the drawn All Ireland final between Dublin and Kerry.

The Belfast-based barrister and former Derry inter-county footballer made a number of controversial comments about the performance of referee David Gough during the match.

The dismissal of Dublin defender Jonny Cooper prompted Brolly to remark that the referee "has clearly been influenced by the propaganda coming from Kerry".

Brolly later said he had contacted Gough to apologise, stating that "it was wrong of me and unfair on David, a man of integrity and honour."

Gough said the pair remain on good terms, telling Virgin Media: "Joe picked up the phone and rang me during the week. We had a chat. He explained his viewpoint, I explained mine. He apologised, we got on with life."

By Friday evening, the eve of the replay, RTÉ had received 12 emails and 10 calls complaining about the dropping of Brolly from its line-up, according to The Irish Mail on Sunday.

A smaller total number - 17 emails - of complaint were lodged about Brolly's comments during the first game, with a further single email received supporting the broadcaster's move to replace him on the panel for the replay.

On Saturday, Brolly tweeted a photo of himself alongside his friend Shane Finnegan, to whom he donated a kidney in 2012, at a pub in Ballsbridge before the All-Ireland replay.

He wrote: "One door closes. Another opens."

Having asked earlier in the week whether "anyone has a spare ticket for the replay, I've just been let down", Brolly did make it into the stadium.

In his column in The Sunday Independent yesterday, Brolly wrote that he will "never again watch an All-Ireland final sober".

"After four pints of stout, one sees the game in a deeper, more meaningful light," he said.

"I took my seat in the stand, and felt genuine excitement. I texted David Gough to say, 'This is all your fault.'

"He texted back, 'I should have given that free out!' David remains in danger of giving referees a good name.

"Afterwards, I wandered over to Mulligan's on Poolbeg Street, where Ger Cusack ushered me upstairs to the back office to write this piece.

"As I was writing, he appeared back up again with a pint of stout. 'Never mind RTÉ Joe,' he said, 'Sure it’s only oul bulls**t anyway.' The Dubs. What’s not to love?," he concluded.

The Sunday Game pundit Colm O'Rourke said he was unsure whether Brolly would return to the screen but told The Irish News last week it would be a "serious loss" if he did not make a comeback adding that "the last thing you need is blandness."

Prior to the replay an RTÉ spokesperson said: "Joe remains under an RTÉ contract and we can't comment beyond that."

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