TELLY’S Michael Lyster has weighed in on the criticism levelled at the Sunday Game, revealing: The worst I ever got was being called an effing b****x in an airport.

RTE’s GAA show is under the spotlight after an on-air stand-off between presenter Joanne Cantwell and pundit Donal Og Cusack went viral.

RTE legend Michael Lyster said the exchange 'got a bit tetchy'


RTE legend Michael Lyster said the exchange ‘got a bit tetchy’Credit: Sportsfile
Joanne Cantwell and Donal Og Cusack in action on Sunday Game


Joanne Cantwell and Donal Og Cusack in action on Sunday GameCredit: RTE
Cork man Cusack was accused by some fans of 'arrogance' in his response


Cork man Cusack was accused by some fans of ‘arrogance’ in his responseCredit: Sportsfile – Subscription

Both have received huge flak on social media, with Cusack accused by some fans of “arrogance” in his response to Joanne’s questions.

And Michael, 69, told The Irish Sun it’s a whole new world from when he was in the chair.

The Dungarvan man — who helmed RTE’s GAA coverage for 38 years until he retired in 2018 — said: “I watched the exchange alright, it was lively enough to say the least! It got a bit tetchy.

“I think the main difference is that back in our day, there wasn’t the media awareness that there is today.

Donal Og Cusack in tense exchange on The Sunday Game over Tailteann Cup comments
I let trolls bother me, but now I know the truth, says Pat Spillane

“And that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. People are a lot more aware of what’s going on and the reaction is amplified hugely because of social media.

“In our day we had presenters that were not really as polished and didn’t really care about the social media pressure.

“And that’s not a criticism of them or of anyone involved, it’s just the way things were.

“It was different. The main thing is the reaction; you didn’t have the reaction.


“So it’s tough to compare because things are so different now. The way people view ­sporting events is different.

“People are far more aware across the board. The huge thing is how quickly things get picked up and amplified now.

“Back in my day the most you might see is someone calling you an effing b****x while you’re queuing in Dublin Airport or wherever.

“It didn’t happen too often but it did happen occasionally!”

The retired RTE great told all as he launched podcast The Game on Sunday — with old ­Sunday Game sparring partner Pat Spillane among the show’s first guests.


Cantwell kicked off RTE’s live hurling coverage on Sunday by asking Cusack about his recent comments on the Tailteann Cup.

He’d called the competition a “Gaelic football Grand National for disappointed also-rans”.

And when quoted on air, the Cork star replied: “We’re here to talk about hurling and now we’re talking about Gaelic football. Did you hear the programme? Do you ­listen to it every week?

“Are they happy to be in the Tailteann Cup? You’re asking what I said.

“First of all, we’re here to talk about one of the best days we have in hurling.

“You’re asking me a question about what I said. I’m explaining to you what I said.”

Cusack will be missing in action from this weekend’s hurling panel, though RTE insist this is purely for scheduling reasons.


Former rugby analyst George Hook, 82, said he has sympathy for those involved as he admitted “it’s a different world” from his time in the Montrose studio.

He told The Irish Sun: “There is no place for forthright comment on anything, including in sport.

“And what is the value in ­having a panel when you can’t say anything? And that’s not a ­criticism of the people involved, it’s the world we live in.

“You can’t say anything that people will disagree with, that’s just a fact. You look at the likes of communist China and Russia and think we have it so much better here, but we don’t!

“And again I have to stress this is not aimed at the people involved. I feel sorry for them.”

This Morning bosses dramatically release new Phillip Schofield statement
Dunnes fans rushing to buy Doc Marten sandal dupes & they're up to €134 cheaper

RTE’s Head of Sport Declan McBennett previously told us the days of “personality punditry” were over.

He told The Irish Sun: “There was an era dominated by personality punditry. It was hugely successful for a long period of time. But like all those things, it has a life span.”

RTE's Joanne Cantwell


RTE’s Joanne CantwellCredit: Sportsfile
George Hook said he 'feels sorry' for the stars involved


George Hook said he ‘feels sorry’ for the stars involvedCredit: Garrett White – The Sun