Radio man at heart looks back on long RTE career

Talking Sport with Stephen Glennon

One of the many books that has hit the shelves ahead of the Christmas rush is Patrick P. Guthrie’s ‘The GAA and Radio Éireann’, a publication which explores the relationship between radio commentators and Gaelic games between 1926 and 2010.

Among those to feature prominently in Guthrie’s work is well-known Galway pundit Jim Carney, who in addition to his work on the wireless for many years, was also the first presenter of RTE’s The Sunday Game. He is currently sports editor of The Tuam Herald, where he began his career in the media back in 1968.

To say Milltown native Carney is nothing less than charismatic is an understatement and it is easy to see why he was chosen – at the age of 29 – to front RTE’s equivalent of the BBC’s ‘Match of the Day’ in 1979. For any young man, it was a dream job but Carney, even now, insists his days in radio gave him much more enjoyment.

“It (television work) probably should mean more to me than it did, but when you are young and enjoying life you don’t think too much on the profound side of it. Also, I wasn’t quite a natural at it either. I was keen and everything else but . . . well, let’s say, if I was a goose I didn’t think I was a swan!” he laughs.

“I wouldn’t have had a big head about it. So, it didn’t mean as much to me and it still doesn’t mean as much to me as it probably should. I suppose, it was just that I was, first and foremost, a lover of radio, as I still am. And of radio sport as well.”

This leads us nicely into Guthrie’s book, where Carney, a former journalist with the Connacht Tribune, takes his place alongside many of the great radio broadcasters like Mícheál O’Hehir, Mícheál Ó Muircheartaigh, Jimmy Magee, Mícheál Ó Sé and the late, Tom Rooney, another ex-Tribune reporter.

For a passionate Galway supporter like Carney, though, radio has always held a special place in his heart. “When Galway won the All-Ireland in ’56 – they lost the semi-finals in ’57 and ’58 – I actually remember listening to those games on the radio.

“I remember my father going up to the match and the radio being on at home and listening to Mícheál O’Hehir’s voice – and the names of Purcell, Stockwell and Jack Mangan, who recently passed away – as Galway beat Cork.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune