As the GAA celebrates 140 years, Seán Creedon talks to the popular RTÉ commentator about his life and career in broadcasting.


GAA commentators tend to be remembered for the phrases they make famous. The late Micheál Ó Hehir talked about a ‘‘Schemozzle in the Parallelogram ,’’ while Micheál Ó Muircheartaigh will always be famous for his one-liners. One of his best came when referring to Seán Óg Ó hAilpín’s parents, saying ‘‘his father is from Fermanagh, his mother’s from Fiji, neither one of them a hurling stronghold.”
No doubt about Marty Morrissey most famous one-liner. It came after Clare’s 1992 Munster football final win over Kerry at the Gaelic Grounds in Limerick. Marty, who has strong Clare connections, summed up the euphoria in the banner county after that famous win 32 years ago when he said: ‘‘There won’t be a cow milked in Clare for at least a week.’’

Yes Marty considers himself a Clareman, even though he was born in Mallow where his mother Peggy (Twomey) was reared. And the first 11 years of his life were spent on Bainbridge Avenue, New York.
After getting excellent results in his Leaving Certificate Marty’s father Martin Morrissey didn’t have to go to University to become a Secondary School teacher, which was normal back then. His first post was the Patrician Academy in Mallow. And it was in the North Cork town that Martin met and fell in love with local hairdresser Peggy Twomey.

After marrying in Doneraile Church in 1954 the couple headed for the Big Apple, where Martin worked in the travel trade. After working for various travel companies he eventually set up his own travel agency in Bainbridge Avenue in the Bronx, an area where there was a large Irish community.

When Marty’s grandmother Alice died on St Patrick’s Day 1964 his father Martin decided to stay at home for a while. But he was forced to sell the small farm and by Christmas they were back in New York. Marty attended St Ann’s Catholic School on Bainbridge Avenue where himself and another lad were the only two Irish boys in the whole school.
Martin and Peggy wanted their baby born in Ireland and like many Irish couples they always dreamed of returning to the ‘old sod.’ They were also well aware that their son could be drafted into the US army after graduating from High School. One day Martin saw an advertisement in the Irish Echo newspaper for a house and pub for sale in Quilty. This was their chance to get back to the Banner and they got the money together to buy Martin Casey’s pub in the middle of the village.

Marty got involved with his local club Kilmurry-Ibrickane, attended St Flannan’s in Ennis where, in addition to doing the Inter and Leaving Cert, he got his wish to play in goal for the college team. He later played football for UCC where he began a medical degree. He later switched courses and qualified as a teacher, getting his first job in Spanish Point in Clare.

Back in Clare Marty played and coached teams with his club Kilmurry-Ibrickane, Spanish Point school where he taught and he also made the Clare senior football squad. There was also one appearance as a corner forward for the Clare senior hurlers where Marty’s marker was former Galway star Sylvie Linnane. Enough said!
His first step in commentating came in October 1984 when the local Postmaster – the late Patrick Galvin – asked Marty to commentate on a video of the Clare under-21 football final between Kilmurry-Ibrickane and Miltown Malbay, which was played in Doonbeg. The cameraman was Paschal Brooks.

Marty’s commentary position was on the back of a tractor and trailer and although some time later a photographer took a picture of Marty and Paschal on the back of a Hiace van and it became famous.
On reflection Marty says he was nervous.

‘‘I didn’t know whether I wanted to be Micheál Ó Hehir or Micheál Ó Muircheartaigh or a cocktail of both. At that time that’s all I knew, the two Micheál’s.’’
There were other videos made on Clare GAA clubs Cooraclare and Ennistymon and Marty and Pascal won the GAA’s McNamee Communications award two years in-a-row. That was a major achievement as it introduced Marty to the Dublin media.

He said: ‘‘It was an important award and certainly got us noticed. Micheál Ó Muircheartaigh was the judge one year and Michael O’Carroll, who was a great producer in RTÉ, was the judge the other year.’’

Continue reading in this week’s Ireland’s Own