We’ve grown so accustomed to the sight and sounds of Johnny Giles and Eamon Dunphy on International football night that it’s hardly an exaggeration to say that they are a collective sporting institution in Ireland. The pair have been regular fixtures on RTE’S Studio programmes for two decades now and it is to RTE’s credit that they have remained loyal to the ‘grumpy old men’ of Irish football, whose analysis, bickering and outbursts have provided the bright spots on many’s a night when the football on display offered little to remember. The cantankerous duo have become a trio with the arrival of Liam Brady in recent campaigns, a development which has worked very well in providing a balance on occasion to Dunphy’s sweeping statements and Giles’ begrudging observations.
Dunphy even provided us with a throwback to his post-Saipan tantrums when he confessed on Saturday that he actually wanted the team to lose to Wales to hasten the departure of Staunton from the Managerial helm. On tonight’s programme, Brady and Giles had harsh words for Roy Keane’s intemperate outburst about Shay Given’s international caps tally, whilst Giles even found time to slander the footballing reputation of Rio Ferdinand in a manner that no pundit would be permitted to do on BBC or ITV.
Whether they are loved, liked, loathed or simply tolerated by viewers, the fact remains that football punditry in Ireland remains as sharp and opinionated as ever in no small measure due to the influence of these two giants of the Irish game. Long may they continue to rei[g]n!