WITH EURO 2012 just around the corner, coupled with the expected return of Apres Match, we’ve decided to take a look at seven of the most entertaining sports pundits out there – many of whom have been expertly mimicked by the RTÉ show.
Any list of sporting pundits would not be complete without Eamon Dunphy. From his dismissals of Liam Brady, Michel Platini and Cristiano Ronaldo to his pre-tournament insistence that Brazil had no chance of winning the 2002 World Cup, it’s difficult to think of another pundit who has been so relentlessly inaccurate with his predictions and still continued to make such bold calls over the years. Consequently, his charisma and penchant for outrageous statements, which is nicely complemented by the more reasoned analysis of his studio colleagues, often makes RTÉ’s football analysis must-see TV.
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Pat Spillane is in many ways similar to the father who is never satisfied with his son’s achievements, irrespective of what that son does. Regardless of what’s happened over the course of any given game, he seems perpetually dissatisfied. Teams that he perceives to be playing negative, overly defensive-minded football are particular pet peeves, such as Tyrone and Armagh (“puke football”) or Donegal (see below).
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Like Dunphy, Brian Clough was hardly renowned for making astute predictions. Prior to England’s game with Poland, he labelled the latter’s goalkeeper, Jan Tomaszewski, a “clown”. Naturally, Tomaszewski proceeded to pull off a series of magnificent saves, helping to knock England out of the World Cup qualifying round in the process. However, Clough was also brilliant to watch, analysing games with a confidence and clarity (as demonstrated below) that would probably seem alien to most modern-day pundits.
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Although John McEnroe could legitimately be described as a seasoned analyst at this stage, given that he has appeared consistently on our screens over the past few years every time Wimbledon rolls around, there is still somewhat of a novelty factor in seeing the same individual who was once seemingly disdained by the tennis authorities now becoming firmly part of the sport’s establishment. He is like the sporting equivalent of the band he happens to idolise – the Rolling Stones. Whereas once McEnroe was youthful, cool and provocative, he is now old and relatively inoffensive. Still though, he is easily the most interesting tennis analyst to listen to, and his wisdom on the game is unparalleled.
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Of the people on this list, Hook is arguably the most idiosyncratic of all, which is quite an achievement, considering his competition. While his assessments of matches alone are often contentious enough, his proclivity for making witty remarks that often reference figures or moments from the world of literature or history ensure his brand of analysis is inimitable – excluding, of course, any Apres Match impersonations. For instance, anyone willing to declare “France haven’t been beaten like that since Hitler marched down the Champs-Élysées” on live TV, is bound to be an interesting individual, to say the least.
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Generally, if you watch an England rugby game on the BBC, a voice with a strong Birmingham accent muttering something cynical can be heard as the action unfolds. Despite participating in an industry in which he faces much stiff competition, the referee-hating ex-England hooker is probably deserving of the most-grumpy-pundit-in-the-world accolade. And yet, there is something lovable about Moore, the Ebenezer Scrooge of rugby commentary. And even if you aren’t intrigued by his eccentricity, it is clear from his commentary that few possess such an intimate knowledge of the minutiae of the game, and particularly the scrum.
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Some may accuse Pat Dolan of being a poor man’s Eamon Dunphy, and while this may be true, it is not necessarily a bad thing. If anything, Dolan’s footballing critiques are even more outrageous and wildly inaccurate than those of his better known TV rival. His rants are just as explosive as Dunphy’s – he once launched into a tirade against Rio Ferdinand, accusing him of “arrogant defending”. And moreover, like the RTÉ analyst, he is clearly no fortune teller, as the clip below attests, whereby he essentially paints the then-recent appointment of Giovanni Trapattoni as a kind of impending disaster for Irish football.
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