Football

Wes Hoolahan's Retirement Has Caused An RTE Panel Civil War

Wes Hoolahan's Retirement Has Caused An RTE Panel Civil War

Wes Hoolahan won't be available for selection for Martin O'Neill in future Irish teams. When the news was announced last week, it immediately begged the question - who will the RTE panel argue about before the games? It turns out the answer might still be Wes Hoolahan.

It's no secret Eamon Dunphy is one of the Norwich midfielder's biggest fans.

Richie Sadlier has also regularly been a champion of Hoolahan on the RTE Panel. On Saturday, in his Irish Times column, he wrote about trying to bring Wes to Millwall from Shelbourne back in 2003, sending a scout to watch him play in Tolka Park.

There he discovered that the Dubliner wasn't quite doing himself a lot of favours in his attempts to make it at the top level of the game.

The scout was dismissive of the overall standard and of Hoolahan himself. Back to the drawing board.

What was known to observers at the time, though, and may have been picked up by the scout that evening, was that Hoolahan’s lifestyle was working against him. Whatever about his talent, if he was hoping to be taken seriously at the highest levels of the game, he was going about it all the wrong way. Forget the football-loving wonderkid you imagine him to have been back in the day, there were several rough edges that required attention.

While we weren't aware that Sadlier himself had Hoolahan scouted by Millwall, the story fits in with a pretty well told story about the kind of athlete Wes was in his early years at Shelbourne, before becoming a more dedicated professional later in his career.

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Despite this, it struck Eamon Dunphy as a personal attack on the recently retired player.

He called the article by Sadlier, his RTE panel-mate, "disgraceful and utterly shameful."

Writing in his column in the Irish Daily Star today, Dunphy repsonded to Sadlier.

In my opinion, it was disgraceful and utterly shameful.

Rightly, there was a lot of goodwill out there towards one of the most talented players Ireland have produced in years.

What he wrote on Saturday was damaging and demeaning to Hoolahan.

I’ve talked to various people who know Wes and have worked with him.

They are bewildered by what Sadlier wrote, pointing out that it bears no relation to the reality.

It's hard to understand where Dunphy's anger is coming from here. Hoolahan himself has admitted his preparation in his early days left a lot to be desired.

Speaking to the Irish Sun before Euro 2016, he talked about just this:

Back then you didn’t realise what a diet was. After a game it was a burger and chips and a few pints.

I just thought that was the norm in the League of Ireland League and even when I went to England.

Diet and nutrition wasn’t there, now it’s all in place.

You’ve got to look after yourself if you want to prolong your career and stay on top of your game.

I wonder if what Wes said about himself was "damaging and demeaning to Hoolahan"?

 

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Michael McCarthy

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