Irish sport was dealt a severe blow this week when Micheál O Muircheartaigh retired from his vocation of enriching the Sunday afternoons of the nation. For over half a century his insightful, energetic and witty commentary on radio set the bar for GAA commentary at an impossibly high level. The alternative commentators on RTE TV simply could not compete with a man of such eloquent genius. Hence an entire generation turned down the sound on the TV and tuned into RTE Radio 1. It was a pleasure and an honour to listen to a man such as this, poetic, cultured with an innate sense of history and humanity. He became the sound of Sunday.
We can blame Brian Cowen for O Muircheartaigh’s sudden decision to retire! An Taoiseach’s ill judged and inappropriate Monday night carousing was a public relations disaster which will in time cost him dearly. Just as huge numbers of the population tuned into Freefall a TV programme that laid the blame for our economic troubles firmly at the door of Messr’s Cowen, Ahern and Co they were having a party. The irony was lost on them all.
Out of the blue former Ryder Cup star Philip Walton decided to throw his toys out of the pram and demand an apology from Cowen for mimicking his voice. If any offence was caused it was unintentional and I for one I cannot see what Walton’s problem is.
An Taoiseach reportedly also mimicked Micheál O Muircheartaigh on the same night. Around the same time as Walton was having a hissy fit Micheál O Muircheartaigh announced his retirement. Unlike Walton, Micheál O Muircheartaigh even at 80 years of age, had not by any means passed his best or faded into relative obscurity. He was still as energetic, poetic and vibrant as he was 35 years ago. He was and still is in his professional prime.
On the basis that all cats have four legs and a tail and my dog has four legs and a tail therefore my dog is a cat I have decided that Micheál O Muircheartaigh’s sudden retirement was because like Walton, he too was offended by Cowen’s mimicry. For if Cowens insult was so great to Philip Walton it follows that it must have been equally as insulting to Micheál O Muircheartaigh
Except it wasn’t. For Micheál O Muircheartaigh has a modicum of common sense and understands that no offence was meant and no apology merited. This was simply the stuff of a typical social gathering. Let us get things into context here. Cowen’s penchant for porter and parties may be questionable in the context of his ability to deal with our economic problems. Questions needed to be asked and he may yet pay a heavy price as his colleagues are now questioning his political judgement and personal discipline. But for someone to demand that the premier of this country publicly apologise for the mimicking of his voice at a party is just plain stupid.
Walton’s profile has dropped off the public radar for some time now. If his aim was to re-establish a higher profile then he has partially succeeded. If his aim was to embarrass an already beleaguered Taoiseach he has also partially succeeded. However both successes are pyrrhic victories. Ultimately he has embarrassed himself and paradoxically has drawn even more attention to his voice.
I have been highly critical of Brian Cowen’s political ability in this column. I believe him to be an absolute failure as a minister or as taoiseach. But I believe it wrong to personalise any issue or to indulge in a witch-hunt. Let us concentrate on playing the ball and not the man. Highlight his professional inadequacies but to demand a public apology for some perceived unintended personal slight is jumping on an already grubby bandwagon. Walton’s motivation in this charade is unknown. If it is really the case that he was highly offended then someone should tell him to cop himself on and to grow up.
On this one I am with Brian Cowen. Now I am going outside to feed my flying pigs!
Pearce Flannery is Ireland's premier business advisor and training facilitator and is an acclaimed conference and motivational speaker.
He believes that to get improved results a business must be open to change from the top down.
This philosophy also holds true for the country!