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Dublin: 4°C Wednesday 3 March 2021

'Maradona would be our dream guest' - Second Captains' Eoin McDevitt

The new series of Second Captains Live starts next week on RTÉ

Words, we have none.
Words, we have none.

EOIN MCDEVITT AND the rest of the Second Captains crew -  Ken Early, Mark Horgan, Ciaran Murphy and Simon Hick – are busier than they’ve ever been.

There’s the podcast, the newspaper columns, a website, the radio show that ran throughout the GAA championships and now a new series of the TV show, Second Captains live.

It’s a formidable media empire the five are building themselves but they’re not complaining.

“We’re busy, very busy and I know it’s a cliché but it’s good to be so busy,” McDevitt told during the week.

“With the new season, we’re very much going to build on the first two series. It’ll be a broadly similar format with some big-name guests and a panel of sportspeople on to discuss any topical issues.

“We’ve also rummaged around a bit in the RTÉ archives over the past two seasons and we’ll be exploring that a bit more this time around too.”

While McDevitt is understandably coy about who the big names for the new series are, he is willing to chat about how they ensure that viewers get the most out of the show.

“I think people expect a really high-calibre of guest at this stage. But it’s not just about getting big names, it’s just as important to get people who buy into the set-up and who are willing to engage in the process.”

McDevitt admits that it can feel like you’re always on the go with so many facets of Second Captains but the 34-year old says it’s impossible to pick a favourite format.

“They’re absolutely different challenges. I’ve always felt quite comfortable in radio because that’s what I’ve grown up with but TV, especially with the live crowds, presents a totally different challenge.

“On TV, you also have to be a little less patient with guests than you can be on radio or on the podcast, they have to answer a little quicker.

“I think, as someone who loves listening to what people have to say, the podcast affords that bit more scope to explore people’s answers but it’s hard to pick what part of the job is the most enjoyable when you like it all.”

McDevitt does not agree that media training has resulted in players with nothing to say but accepts that the one-on-one interviews TV, radio and podcasts can offer provide an environment that is more conducive to them saying interesting things.

“I think players do have interesting things to say but where I think there is an issue is that a lot of conversations that Irish sportspeople have is at sponsored events or press conferences and that’s not an intimate setting.

“We recorded an interview with Jackie Tyrell today, and he was explaining how the criticism of the players got to the Kilkenny team and we were able to go into that in some detail but that’s probably because the championship is over and we were in that one-on-one kind of setting.”

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Second Captains McDevitt on stage during the filming of Second Captains live. Source: Second Captains

McDevitt says that there is a particular style of broadcasting and interviewing that he admires and Michael Parkinson and Bill O’Herlihy are two good examples of it.

“There’s a few people I enjoy watching. I got to interview Michael Parkinson and that was amazing. Before I knew I was going to be a broadcaster or interviewer, I just knew he was a guy who mastered it and he was a guy who, to this day, just has grasp of how to deal with people.

“I’ve always felt he was looking for something a little more from guests than the answers they gave everyone else.

“Bill O’Herlihy is another one. He’s probably the broadcaster I’ve seen the most on TV in the sense of him being around since Italia 90. He’s very similar to Parkinson in the way he doesn’t insert himself into the conversation.

“I don’t think that’s the only way to be an interviewer though. It’s more a style of how you deal with people on and off air rather than one presenter’s individual way of doing things.”

It should come as no surprise that Parkinson is one of McDevitt’s favourite interviewees but who would would his dream Second Captains guest be?

“I’ve always thought Maradona would be a great one but you’d need a translator and your wits about you for that one.

“I’m not too interested in interviewing a big name for the sake of it. David Beckham is a big name but would David Beckham be an interesting guest? He seems like a nice person and a good talker but would he knock your socks off? I’m not sure.

“As an interviewer you like to be as surprised as your audience with a guest and I think Maradona would bring that but I’m not sure how good his English is so I don’t think it’ll happen.”

As for the old gig, McDevitt insists he has no regrets but admits he doesn’t listen to Off the Ball much any more.

“I’ve no regrets at all. We love what we’re doing, the podcast has been superb and we’re having a good time doing the radio, TV, everything.

“I don’t get to listen too often but I think it’s something you have to be in the habit of listening to and when I left, you know yourself how it is, I wasn’t really too keen on listening in.

“But I know the lads are good at what they do and I know they’re doing well.”

And, as the media empire builds, what’s next for Second Captains?

“We’re so busy with the TV run, I’m not sure there’ll be anything new. The TV show really keeps you on the tip of your toes so that’ll be the focus for foreseeable future.”

The new series of Second Captains Live starts Wednesday on RTÉ 2 at 9.30pm.

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Steve O'Rourke

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