COMMENT: We need to talk about Eamon
On Monday night, we witnessed arguably the poorest remarks of Eamon Dunphy's long career of put-downs, bluster and grandstanding in the name of football punditry.
"McCarthy, we have to do something about. I watched him all season at Everton, he got his manager sacked, the guy does nothing. He's struggling around pitch like a traffic cop, pointing here and pointing there, and not doing anything himself.
"The thing is he hasn't got it. This fella hangs around on the fringes of a game and he's a waste of space. There's no other word for it."
James McCarthy had a poor game against Sweden; often late in the tackle, he failed a number of times in the second half to cut off the supply line to Martin Olsson on the Swedish right and was generally lethargic compared to the far more tenacious Glenn Whelan.
The 25-year-old Everton player has not (yet) produced his best form for his adopted country, and there are legitimate questions over whether or not he should start against Belgium on Saturday, but if he needs any motivation to raise his game he needs only to look Dunphy in full, poisonous flow.
Leaving aside the fact that his comments went completely unquestioned by Darragh Maloney, a momentary slip from Bill O'Herlihy's very able successor, Dunphy's comments crossed the line from analysis into defamation with nothing done to challenge him.
He's been at this game for years.
Dunphy; a man who routinely toils through a line-up - before a game - saying this player is a 'chancer,' this player is 'no good,' this player is 'ok, Darragh, on his day' without offering any kind of specificity to back up his claims.
Dunphy; who once called Steven Gerrard "a nothing player", Cristiano Ronaldo "a cod", Harry Kewell "a fat clown for all to see", and, despicably, Niall Quinn "a creep, an idiot and a Mother Teresa."
Dunphy; confusing the name of Jeff Hendrick for two years all in the name of showbiz, baby.
This is a man whose moderate achievements on the field and lifetime of crude analysis - some of which, I'll admit, has been incredibly watchable for never being bland, the only charge you can't level at the Drumcondra man - have somehow earned him an unquestioned place at the top table of RTÉ punditry.
This has to be Dunphy's last tournament on the panel.
Football analysis on both British and Irish TV stations has improved dramatically over the last three or four years.
Gary Neville's performances in front of the camera for Sky led to both the BBC and ITV raising their games, while Graeme Souness' tenacity and articulate nature makes him the best in the business.
Jamie Carragher is a livewire presence, the likes of Jermaine Jenas and Kevin Kilbane and (whisper it) Rio Ferdinand are fresh, articulate and have plenty to say, while even Alan Shearer has gone back to school and come back a better analyst.
Richie Sadlier and Damien Duff will ensure a smooth transition for RTÉ whenever the overhaul takes place, and we can only hope it does before qualifying for the World Cup starts.
Dunphy's flip-flopping, his fairweather schtick and his nastiness has no place in our nation's football coverage. I won't go so far as to brand him a waste of space, but his taking apart of James McCarthy went far beyond any decent reading of the game, and any acceptable level of public service broadcasting.