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RTÉ apologises following Eamon Dunphy and Joe Brolly's criticism of Barry McGuigan

Des Cahill acknowledged a lot of people were unhappy with an episode of Ireland’s Greatest Sporting Moment that aired two weeks ago.

Image: Getty Images/INPHO

IRELAND’S GREATEST SPORTING MOMENT is going exactly to plan. The RTÉ production – essentially a televised pub debate between various pundits and experts – is drawing in plenty of viewers and hitting its mark.

It’s been nostalgic, compelling and controversial with Ruby Walsh stirring the pot nicely with his views on Ray Houghton’s winner against Italy at the 1994 World Cup.

But as much as different opinions are crucial to sport and our obsession with it, sometimes a line is crossed.

And that’s why RTÉ felt the need to apologise during last night’s episode.

A fortnight ago, Eamon Dunphy and Joe Brolly were in studio to discuss the greatest moment of the 1980s.

On the shortlist was Barry McGuigan’s famous victory over Eusebio Pedroza that saw him crowned world featherweight champion in 1985.

But both Dunphy and Brolly dismissed the triumph.

Dunphy opined that the real success story was McGuigan’s manager Barney Eastwood, who, he claimed, arranged ‘easy’ fights, including the crunch title bout against an ‘over-the-hill’ Pedroza.

Brolly also rubbished the well-worn story angle of how McGuigan’s success was a cross-border unifier.

“It wasn’t the real thing,” he said.

Joe Brolly Joe Brolly was open about his personal dislike for Barry McGuigan when discussing the boxer's world featherweight success in 1985. Source: Presseye/Lorcan Doherty/INPHO

“Sectarianism was at its height in the North in 1987. That was showbiz, the white dove on the shorts and all of that.”

At one stage, Brolly admitted he had a personal dislike of McGuigan and wanted it noted.

“Anybody but McGuigan,” he said.

I just don’t like the man. I am biased against him. I want to declare that just in the interest of honest discourse.”

The tone of that conversation led to presenter Des Cahill opening last night’s show by apologising to McGuigan and his fans.

“In our first programme on the 80s, we featured Barry McGuigan’s wonderful achievement in becoming world champion,” Cahill said.

“Now the conversations that followed were robust and they strayed somewhat from the great moment that we set out to mark. For that we would like to apologise to Barry and his legion of supporters. It wasn’t in the spirit of what the programme was designed to do and lots of you let us know your feelings. We’re happy to recognise that.”

The42 has just published its first book, Behind The Lines, a collection of some of the year’s best sports stories. Pick up your copy in Eason’s, or order it here today (€10):

‘Eamon rang me halfway through it. He said: ‘John, this is really good.’ Ah, I was delighted then’

‘Dunphy was talking nonsense. If Hoolahan was that good he’d be starting for Norwich every week’

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