RTE to air every World Cup game as sport takes over for summer

by John Boland

IT’S traditionally the season when RTE personalities take even longer holidays than TDs, but there’ll be no rest for Montrose’s sports department in the coming months.

In fact, sports coverage so dominates the RTE summer schedule, which was released yesterday, that it invades the documentary and lifestyle programming as well.

The six-part ‘This Sporting Life’, for instance, will profile a half-dozen of Ireland’s most eminent participants in various sports — from Christy O’Connor Jr to Catherine McKiernan, Trevor Brennan to Tony Cascarino and Paul Carberry to Dessie Farrell.

Meanwhile, a feature-length documentary, ‘Saviours’, set in Dublin’s inner city, follows the careers of three boxers — Dean Murphy, Abdul Hussein and the late Darren Sutherland — as they battle to succeed personally and professionally.

And former Irish goalkeeper Packie Bonner will be one of the celebrities featured in another six-part series called ‘Tracks and Trails’, which is all about the pleasures to be had from walking in Ireland. Well, there are lots of open roads and fields in Packie’s Donegal.

Sport itself will be as ubiquitous as ever, with next month’s FIFA World Cup in South Africa looming over everything. RTE is going for broke on this, covering the 56 matches live across 25 days.


With Bill O’Herlihy, Eamon Dunphy, Johnny Giles and confreres lending their often barbed, usually enlightening and invariably amusing insights to the proceedings, there’s unlikely to be many viewers defecting to the BBC or elsewhere.

Rugby, though, won’t be faring too well. Yes, there’ll be live coverage of Ireland playing the Barbarians at Thomond Park, but RTE is only permitted to bring extended highlights of our games against New Zealand and Australia.

Minister Eamon Ryan will be cheesed off, along with quite a few viewers. I’m afraid a Sky Sports subscription is their only remedy, or else a visit to the pub.

Some intriguing non-sporting documentaries are promised. The two-part ‘The PDs: From Boom to Bust’ will chronicle the rise and obliteration of Des O’Malley’s and Mary Harney’s political party, Diarmuid Ferriter’s three-part ‘Limits of Liberty’ will offer a history of 20th Century Ireland, while the six-part ‘Bombings’ will do what it says in the title, focusing on terrorist acts during the quaintly-named Troubles.

Oh, and if you’re interested in the plight of the humble seahorse, RTE’s your only man — it will be devoting four programmes to its fight for survival.

Elsewhere, ‘Take On the Take-Away’ will feature six celebrity chefs as they set out to prove they can cook better stuff than you’ll get from your local chipper, Chinese or Indian outlet.

The best news, though, is that Paddy O’Gorman will be back with another of his quirky summer series.

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