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05th May 2019

Tommy Tiernan’s interview with Paul McGrath was absolutely incredible TV

Paul Moore

Tommy Tiernan


Tommy Tiernan’s chatshow returned for a new season and just like the previous ones, the format stayed exactly the same.

The comedian would interview a guest but before the cameras start filming, Tiernan has absolutely no idea who he’ll be chatting to.

Well, in terms of an opening guest to talk with, they don’t get any more beloved than Paul McGrath because it’s arguable that he’s still one of – if not THE – most admired and revered athlete that has ever represented Ireland.

In terms of the ‘golden generation’ during Jack Charlton’s tenure as Ireland manager, McGrath played a seismic role as he appeared at the 1990 and 1994 World Cups, as well as UEFA Euro 1988.

If one match summed up McGrath’s talent and skill, it was Italy in Giants Stadium.

His performance – while carrying a serious shoulder injury – is still one of the most inspirational, heroic, and awe-inspiring feats that you’ll ever see on a football pitch. As a player, McGrath was a colossus that had every single attribute that a world class defender needs.

Aside from winning the FA Cup and League Cup with Manchester United and Aston Villa respectively, McGrath also won the PFA Players’ Player of the Year for 1992–93, the FAI Senior International Player of the Year twice, and he was inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame.

Simply put, it’s arguable that the former St. Patrick’s Athletic man is the greatest player that this country has ever produced.

Since retiring, McGrath’s wonderful autobiography, Back From the Brink, chronicled his incredibly interesting life as the highs on the field were met with some lows away from it.

During the chat with Tiernan, McGrath was an open book as he talked about his shy personality and how it caused him to abuse alcohol at times. Aside from this, he chatted about the friendly relationship that he still has with his ex-wives and how he continues to do everything that’s humanly possible to help his children.

However, to his immense credit, the beloved defender also talked about the dark moments like drinking alone in the house and how he’ll never fully shake his dependency on alcohol. As a player, McGrath was always incredibly courageous and brave. For a notoriously shy person to chat about something like that on TV, it could be an even braver feat.

It’s to Tiernan’s immense credit as an interviewer that McGrath felt comfortable enough to share some of the details of his private life.

Aside from this, there were anecdotes about how Alex Ferguson scolded the Irish defender when he asked the Manchester United boss for a pay rise and in insight into the drinking culture that existed at Old Trafford.

At the very end of the interview, McGrath said that he felt thankful for the Irish people because they always embraced him.

At this moment, Tiernan instantly flipped this sentiment on its head by rightfully saying that the Irish people owe McGrath a massive debt of gratitude for his excellent service in the green jersey.

Paul McGrath owes the people of Ireland nothing.

He’s a legend and he’ll always be one of us.

If you want to see the whole interview, it’s available on the RTÉ Player.

Here’s a taste of what’s in store along with a small insight into how loved McGrath still is by the Irish public.

There’s only one Paul McGrath.

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