51 games. RTE had the rights to all 51, but then decided to sub-licence 22 of those games to the upstarts from Ballymount. Now that we’ve finished the first round of matches, it’s time to analyse the coverage of both stations. From Tommy Martin’s hypnotic eyebrows to Damien Duff’s just-got-out-of-bed routine. We’ll compare these two broadcasting tycoons* by looking at the following categories:
*not actual broadcasting tycoons – see Sky.
RTE has so many members in their EURO 2016 that they barely fit in between two columns of balloons:
George Hamilton, 26 years after Packie Bonner’s world altering moment, is still going strong. A steady hand, Hamilton knows the ropes and is taking charge of the big games. Ronnie Whelan or Ray Houghton usually stand in beside him. While Whelan has energy and states the bloody obvious well, Houghton is more subtle, much like the volley he scored against Italy in 1994. Other members of the expanded RTE entourage include Jon Kenny and Jim Beglin. They’re reliable and Beglin is like a light version of Graeme Souness in his approach.
TV3 has less games to cover and their selection of staff is eclectic to say the least. They have the familiar voices of Martin Tyler (SKY) and Alan Smith commentating on a few games. However, the majority of games belong to Trevor Welch and Keith Andrews. The latter is an interesting choice. Andrews always seems to be on the verge of shouting, something he may have picked up from Kenny Cunningham during their time together in the green shirt.
How do you will the boots of a legend? Bill O’Herlihy quit as the man in the hot seat after the World Cup in 2014. He sadly passed away only 10 months later. Replacing someone who has been synonymous with Irish football coverage over the past 30 years was a difficult ask. O’Herlihy’s skill was his ability to subtly cause arguements and then control the runaway train that is Eamonn Dunphy. He was also willing to give his view on a subject, even if it endured the wrath of Liam “don’t f*** with me” Brady:
How to follow in the footsteps of a nation’s darling? In fairness, Darragh Maloney has actually made a good fist of it. The “holy trinity” of Brady, Dunphy and Giles seem to like his hands-off approach. Maloney keeps to hosting and lets the pundits keep to punditry. Peter Collins steps in for the tier 2 games. Collins perhaps doesn’t have the same level of composure and football knowledge as Maloney, but has improved over the years.
Tommy Martin for some, is proving to be the find of the tournament. Gelled black hair and eyebrows darker than the soul of Sepp Blatter, Martin is giving Maloney a real run for his money. While the RTE pundits are megastars, TV3’s motley crew usually need an introduction and a helping hand. Tommy keeps questions to the point and remembers to break for an ad break every 2 minutes. That’s another reason for complementing his performance – the constant adverts. TV3 paid big bucks for their 22 games and by god, they’re going to get maximum return for their investment.
This round for many will be worth triple points, rendering the other two categories meaningless. Starting with the boys in D4, Dunphy and Giles are now in their seventies but are still giving it socks. We all watch in the hope of a gigantic verbal tussle unfolding, like Brady going head to head with Dunphy:
The star of the show could be Damien Duff. Although he looks to be barely staying awake at times, Duffer supplies a steady stream of funny anecdotes. He’s only just retired from playing so has many stories about the current Irish players. New to the media game, he’s also more willing to speak his mind, which is refreshing when most ex-pro’s keep to stating the obvious for the first few years of their media careers. Didi Hamann typically receives positive reviews for his analysis. He also has wonderfully eccentric eyebrows.
TV3 struggle to compete in the punditry stakes. However, they have made a stunning signing in Graeme Souness. His “I’m about to murder you and your entire family” stare is up there with Roy Keane’s. Souness will also be relieved not to be dealing anymore with Dunphy and Giles. There were plenty of spats which we all enjoyed.
“Well, who have you managed?,” asked Souness in response to Dunphy sounding off. Dunphy’s response was “I didn’t manage anywhere. I managed to stay alive for 63 and a half years, baby!,”
Souness is now joined by lesser lights such as Uwe Rosler and Paul McShane. Nothing too inspiring there although Neil Lennon usually puts in a decent shift. Souness cannot be underrated. He has completed stints at SKY, RTE and now becomes a huge intimidating shark in a small pond (a shark would actually die in a pond so let’s call it a 20 metre pool). Every sentence he speaks carries venom and Tommy Martin must take some credit for not crapping his pants yet live on air.
EURO 2016 will rumble on for another three odd weeks. The majority of the big matches will be shown on RTE, but TV3 are right in the mix. Is TV3’s coverage of EURO 2016 better than RTE’s? Whose coverage has come out on top so far? Vote below!