Thursday, May 30, 2024

Remembering The RTÉ Panel’s Iconic Beef With Noel King |

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On a chaotic night for the League of Ireland, it was reported that Noel King is set to return to League of Ireland management and take over for Stephen McDonnell at Dundalk. King has had many roles in Irish football, including that of interim Ireland manager after Giovanni Trapattoni left the job in 2013. 

Here’s a look back on his iconic beef with the RTÉ panel while he held that role.


When listing off the great sporting showdowns of all time, the easy ones come to mind. Ali v Frazier. Ronaldo v Messi. Coe v Ovett. Senna v Prost. Noel King v Eamon Dunphy.

Yes, Noel King v Eamon Dunphy.


For those who may not remember, Noel King took over as interim Ireland manager in the aftermath of Giovanni Trapattoni in 2013. The then-U21s manager took charge of only two senior games and, after a nervy victory over Kazakhstan, King took offence to several of Tony O’Donoghue’s questions on RTÉ.

The strange and tense interview was followed by a dissection of the segment by the RTÉ panel of Eamon Dunphy, Richie Sadlier, and John Giles – and it was pure entertainment.

With rumours emerging that the FAI are exploring appointing an interim boss as the search for Stephen Kenny’s replacement goes on, we’ve taken a look back at the most iconic incident ever involving an interim Irish manager.

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Noel King v RTÉ remembered

A poor start to qualification for the 2014 World Cup saw Giovanni Trapattoni exit the Ireland job in September 2013, after five years as boss of the Boys in Green. Before the double act of Martin O’Neill and Roy Keane were drafted in as Trapattoni and Tardelli’s long-term replacements, former women’s and U21 team manager Noel King was placed in temporary charge of the team.

With defeats to Germany (that 6-1 loss), Sweden, and Austria effectively ruling Ireland out of contention to qualify for the World Cup in Brazil, King’s side were merely playing for pride when they took on Kazakhstan in the Aviva Stadium in October 2013.

Things very nearly went badly wrong, with Kazakhstan taking an early lead. Somehow, a year on from losing 6-1 to Germany, it looked like things might actually get worse for this Irish team.

Luckily for King, they rallied and managed to come out 3-1 victors, saving face at the end of a forgettable qualifying campaign.

When asked about the slow start from his team in his post-match interview with Tony O’Donoghue, King remained adamant his side had played well, pointing to the three goals scored as evidence of this while ignoring their unimpressive possession stats.

His most bizarre assertion was that Kevin Doyle’s natural position was on the wing – a point he argued vehemently with O’Donoghue.

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As we know, Eamon Dunphy was never shy of giving his two cents on any footballing matter at the best of times, let alone bones of contention.

When King came out firing against pitchside reporter O’Donoghue, Dunphy lost it in the studio, kicking off one of the all-time great (and underappreciated) RTÉ panel rows from the Aviva Stadium studio.

Dunphy said:

I’ll say it again – I think he’s been shown to be out of his depth Noel King, way, way out of his depth.

There was nothing that Tony said there that denigrated the players, he was asking legitimate questions. That response proves he can’t handle even the small bit of pressure after a win. Out of his depth in the job.

Give us a break, this guy fancies himself. You see the way he turned on Tony there? He’s a bully. He tried to bully RTÉ on Friday night [after a 3-0 defeat to Germany] by making the panel the issue. Out of his depth, in my opinion.

It mightn’t quite be up there with throwing the pen at Italia 90, or calling Cristiano Ronaldo a “cod” in the pantheon of iconic Dunphy rants, but he certainly didn’t hold back when assessing King’s brief time in charge of the Irish team.

Dunphy’s argument with fellow pundit Richie Sadlier escalated, as Dunphy mounted an impassioned defence of his RTÉ compatriot Tony O’Donoghue for “doing his job”.

Sadlier defended King by pointing out that no one was expecting him to operate at the standard required for an Irish manager, before Giles once again went in on King and defended O’Donoghue. Giles called King’s interview with O’Donoghue “immature” and “disappointing”, before Dunphy once again came flying in with a defence of the media.

Dunphy was ruthless, going on to say that King’s behaviour was “not how an international manager should behave” and saying his immaturity was a “crime” at international level.

The entire clip is well worth a watch – if for nothing else, as a reminder of the golden days of the RTÉ football panel. Dunphy, though irate and performative as always, gives insight into the mentality required for international football. He proves once again that he was always a far better pundit than he was given credit for – something that was lost amid all of the ranting and raving.

Noel King would depart the Ireland job after that Kazakhstan game, with O’Neill and Keane entering for the EURO 2016 qualifying campaign – and bringing Ireland to the tournament.

King’s legacy as Ireland manager may be limited – but he did give us one of the great RTÉ panel moments.


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