RTE’s Sunday Match format has been criticized by Joe Brolly in an eviscerating column, with the former pundit calling the program ‘stage-driven’ and ‘totally unnatural’.
Writing in the Irish Independent, Brolly took aim at his former employers, saying the coverage was stuffy and saying if you heard people talking that way in a bar you would “apologize”.
He wrote: ‘The daytime pundits on The Sunday Game are forced to stand awkwardly behind the podiums, like politicians about to make their opening statement. Instead of a conversation, it’s a staged chore.
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“Your turn. Now your turn. Now your turn.
“It’s totally unnatural. Nobody talks about a game like this. Nobody wants to hear about it like that.
“If you were in a bar and they were there, you’d apologize and step out in front of another crowd as soon as possible. Because it’s so organized and risk averse, nobody says anything.
“Instead, it was reduced to banal statements.
“I feel sorry for the pundits, who must need oxygen masks to bring them when the show is over. But more for audiences, especially young audiences, who just won’t watch if this continues.
Brolly, from Dungiven, lost his role with RTE in 2019 after his controversial remarks about referee David Gough’s performance in the Dublin-Kerry final draw. For the replay, former Mayo boss Stephen Rochford replaced him.
Since then, Brolly has been a vocal critic of the station for – in his opinion – being too concerned with being politically correct rather than focusing on delivering as entertaining a product as possible. In 2020, RTE Head of Sport Declan McBennett explained the reasoning behind Brolly’s removal from their punditry team.
“The decision has been made and I was happy to stick with the decision and I think it was the right decision,” he told Independent.ie. “Optics didn’t concern me. Because I’m not into optics.
“In my opinion, it was about putting the best people on the replay. We brought in Stephen Rochford.”
He explained: “There are three reasons why you get a seat [on the panel]. Credibility, informed opinion and ability to express that opinion.
“If you’re an expert and a contract is cancelled, you have to ask yourself why. And I think if you look at the things already mentioned, it probably answers that question for everyone.
“Part of RTE’s mission, like it or not, is to put the most credible people there. Credibility is an important part of what we do.”