Last week, we ranked the best TV commentators in Irish sport to widespread dispute.
The narrowing of that list to include only TV led to the omission of a few narrative masters, so we're following it up with a ranking of the best radio commentators. While allowing for the fact that nobody will soar to the great heights of Mícheál Ó Muircheartaigh, there is plenty of class left on the Irish airwaves. Here's our ranking of the top ten. Please disagree.
1) Marty Morrissey
Marty placed well in the TV rankings, but is clear at the top of the radio class. He captures the anarchy of hurling particularly well, and he can also crank up the emotion when he wants, giving a uniquely Irish lament ahead of last year's All-Ireland final.
It's almost worth forgiving his bringing 'they won't be doing in X what they usually do, tonight' into the lexicon of Irish sport.
2) Michael Corcoran
RTE Radio's rugby commentator usually rises to the pitch of the biggest occasions in Irish rugby. He's had plenty of great moments to shout about over his career, with the moment standing out the time he lost his voice over Ronan O'Gara's drop at goal against Northampton, "after about 145 phases".
3) Dave McIntyre
We hear less from him on the radio now that Newstalk have lost their GAA rights, but McIntyre still does the Premier League commentaries for Off the Ball along with his mountain of TV work for Sky and TV3. His radio commentary is technically excellent: his intonation with the pitch of the game is usually spot on, while few commentators are as good at giving the listener an accurate picture of what's happening on the pitch.
4) Seán Bán Breathnach
Judging by his Wikipedia page, Seán Bán's influence on Irish society is enormous, as it credits him with the revival of the word craic. Regardless of whether that's true or not, he will forever be remembered for his Radio na Gaeltachta commentary on Katie Taylor's Olympic medal win in 2012. "Maud Gonne...Grainne Mhaol...Mary Robinson...Máire Mac An tSaoi....KATIE TAYLOR". Utterly magnificent.
5) Willie Hegarty
Hegarty is a fine case study on the etiquette of when to follow an 'S' with a 'H',a signifier of the Midlands accent. Eg: greatesht; shtop. He has adorned many a Roscommon game with his absurdly frenzied style for Shannonside Radio, and naturally matched the occasion of Roscommon's greatest triumph of recent years, the 2006 All-Ireland minor title. He even found time to satirise the traffic on the way to Ennis: 'It took Roscommon half a day to get here, it will take Roscommon half a day to get home... they won't care' afterward. He even outshines Fergal O'Donnell in the clip below, who told RTE that the occasion was "fucking brilliant".
6) Brian Carthy
Like Hegarty, Carthy is a native of Roscommon but is notably less mad. He may not get the biggest commentaries on RTE - something which has greatly exercised Mickey Harte, who has refused to speak to RTE over Marty Morrissey's promotion above Carthy - but Carthy's languid, polished voice is part of the stitching of every GAA summer. It is difficult to imagine a Championship without him.
7) Liam Aherne
Aherne works for Live95 in Limerick, and he earns his spot here solely for his calling of Limerick's Munster hurling final win over Cork in 2013. It was a famous day for Limerick, and Aherne matched the occasion superbly, featuring the great line, "The referee would be well advised to blow it up here and let the session - I mean let the party begin".
8) Weeshie Fogarty/Gary O'Sullivan
The inimitable duo on Radio Kerry, Weeshie and O'Sullivan are one of the finest double acts in sports commentary, tossing the reigns to each other with ease. They've been spoiled by the fact they've called mostly triumphs over the years, but that doesn't mean that anything past Kerry is beyond their ken, as this discussion on Chile at the Copa America proves.
Oh, and Weeshie once struggled when confronted with Beyonce's name.
9) Liam Spratt
Spratt commentates on Wexford games for South East Radio, and is one of the best local radio commentators around. As recently as last May, Spratt found Davy Fitzgerald by the press box in Wexford Park - Davy had been ensconced in a bespoke 'box' as a result of his suspension for wandering onto the field against Tipp - celebrating the win over Kilkenny. He thrust his mic in front of him, declaring "I don't care if there's a ban, say something to the people of Wexford!. He is responsible for a long line of Sprattisms, which include:
And here's Sean Flood - son of the late great Tim Flood.......... hold on a minute Tim's not dead!
Was the traffic bad on your way up, Billy?" "About the same, Liam. I was in your car.
That was definitely a free there, it was as obvious as.....as snow on a rope.
10) Brendan Hennessy
A KCLR producer tweeted a couple of weeks ago the unique situation he has found himself in this year: he has organised more live commentaries for the Carlow footballers than the Kilkenny hurlers. This is obviously a good thing: the more we hear of Brendan Hennessy the better. Arguably his finest moment came in hurling, however in 2013. Mount Leinster Rangers were crowned All-Ireland champions, nudging past Oulart the Ballagh, with Hennessy declaring that "I love this", before offering a strong, valedictory rebuke to the "begrudgers" in Wexford, ascending to the magnificent "Shame on Wexford. Shame on Wexford for putting Carlow hurling down".
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