Michael O'Hehir caught off guard when an entire Late Late Show is all about him.
The Late Late Show celebrated Michael O'Hehir's birthday and a long contribution to sports broadcasting. The audience and the panel were made up of colleagues, family and friends. The sports commentator was due to turn 55 on 2 June, as a surprise he was invited on the show as a guest only to be told that the whole evening was dedicated to him.
The panel included sports commentator Fred Cogley, Seán Ó Síocháin, television director Burt Budin and businessman John D Shapiro who were joined by a long list of colleagues, friends and family.
Reacting to the surprise, Michael O'Hehir says,
I’ve kept secrets in my time but this was the best kept secret of all.
The first match that he ever commentate on was between Galway and Monaghan in Mullingar on 14 August 1938. He remembers nearly getting linesman Joe Keohane sacked after mentioning his name during the commentary. Joe Keohane was a civil servant who was supposed to be on sick leave and not at a match in Mullingar. Joe Keohane who is in the audience jokes that he taught Michael O'Hehir everything he knows about football and how he helped him to prepare for his first broadcast commentary.
The fee for that first broadcast was three pounds and ten shillings.
Michael O’Hehir was born in Dublin in 1920. He successfully auditioned for Radio Éireann at the age of 18. His first commentary was when Galway defeated Monaghan in the All-Ireland Football Semi-Final of 1938.
His voice was to become synonymous with radio coverage of hurling and football, and his broadcasts were important to the thousands of people who gathered around radio sets in the 1940s and 1950s in Ireland and abroad. He covered major GAA matches from 1938 until 1985 when illness prevented him from covering his 100th All-Ireland final. Michael O’Hehir died in Dublin in 1996.
This episode of The Late Late Show broadcast on 31 May 1975. The presenter is Gay Byrne.