In order to give an insight to a typical working week for an Irish football journalist, Darren Cleary discloses how he handled covering various sports, a Cup final, a marquee friendly, and a host of interviews.
My Week by Darren Cleary (FM104)
Wednesday, May 7, 2014
The day begins in the office where I pick up some equipment for the busy week ahead. I’ve some research and interview prep to do before heading to the first marking of the day. Toyota have brought together some of the most well-known people in the country for a promotional event in Old Belvedere Rugby Club.
After finishing up interviews with Olympic gold medalist Katie Taylor, Ireland and Munster rugby player Paul O’Connell, Ireland cricketeer Kevin O’Brien, Dublin hurler Liam Rushe, and Dublin Gaelic footballer James McCarthy, I head off to the next scheduled event. Just enough time to catch my breath!
The IRUPA awards are taking place not far away at the old Burlington Hotel, Dublin, where I set up shop in reception before everything gets going. I use that time to begin editing the earlier interviews and send in clips from the Toyota gig for the evening sports bulletins.
After I’ve finished that I move into the media area set up, where players stream in for the award ceremony and are giving interviews. Once I’m done there I head for home where I’ll do some more editing to prepare those fresh interviews for the next morning’s sports bulletins.
Thursday, May 8
This is a day off, but you are never totally free from it all as you run through ideas and to-do lists in your head for the next day. It never stops!
Friday, May 9
The location for this day is FAI headquarters in Abbotstown, just outside Blanchardstown in Dublin, where Martin O’Neill is set to unveil a provisional 32-man squad for the Republic of Ireland’s summer international friendlies. There are no real surprises in the personnel included, so attention quickly turns to those not on the list.
The first question to O’Neill comes from myself and it concerns Stoke City midfielder Stephen Ireland to which the Ireland manager explains his absence. A few more questions come from the assembled journalists about Ireland’s omission and it’s clear that O’Neill is beginning to tire of the subject. When the press conference is over I record a report to be broadcast on the lunch-time sports bulletin with a summary of the squad announcement and some quotes from O’Neill.
After that, it is all about working on alternative stories and angles from the same press conference. It’s about picking out the best audio clips to highlight certain themes and send them on to the sports desk to use throughout the day.
Saturday, May 10
This is an early start as I’m on the morning sports desk in FM104. It’s so early in fact that I’m at my desk for 5:50am and it’s my job to read sports bulletins from 7am until noon. There is a lot of work involved in it because we also provide content for regional stations around the country, like Limerick’s Live 95 and Cork’s 96FM.
As well as writing and reading bulletins, I’m preparing stories that will be sent to our network nations as part of a rip-and-read service. Then after my final bulletin, I get changed into a suit and head for Tallaght Stadium where I’ll be working for Setanta Sports on their coverage of the Setanta Sports Cup final between Dundalk and Sligo Rovers.
I’ve worked for Setanta on a freelance basis for over five years – starting as a runner when in college. Now, I’m kept busy as a sideline reporter for SSE Airtricity League, EA Sports Cup, and Setanta Cup games, as well as for the Allianz National League games in GAA. My duty today is to do live interviews at the side of the pitch, kicking off with pre-match interviews with both managers – Sligo’s Ian Baraclough and Dundalk’s Stephen Kenny.
During the game, I’m beside the fourth official and on standby in case the match commentator needs an update from the sideline about anything. For the most part, I’m giving information on substitutes and injuries to the production truck, parked just outside the stadium, who will relay that to the commentator.
The weather is horrible but Sligo do enough to clinch a 1-0 win and I get to interview their jubilant players afterwards who are soaked from head to toe. I’m able to exhale a sigh of relief then as the rain got so bad in the final minutes of the game that there was a real danger of it being abandoned, which would have been a disaster.
Sunday, May 11
Back in dry clothes, this day is all about another sport as I’m covering the Giro d’Italia cycling tournament that started in Belfast and will finish in Dublin. For most of the day, I’m based in the media centre in the Aviva Stadium, filing reports and attending a press conference. The plan is to get comments from the Irish riders involved as well as the stage winner. After enough is sent through for that evening’s sports bulletins, it is about preparing content for the next morning.
Monday, May 12
Another day off and a chance to catch up on some sleep – and life!
Tuesday, May 13
An even earlier start this time as I’m in the office for 4:50am; reading my first bulletin at 6am. Before I can think of that though I have to compile a list of stories for our network stations, then onto the regular stream of sports bulletins, before updating the sports section of the radio’s website.
From 6am until 10am, I’m kept busy with sports updates before turning my attention to the lunch-time network sports feed. That can be anywhere between eight to 10 minutes long and contains a round-up of the day’s sports news. It is all about doing that until I finish in the office at 12pm.
Wednesday, May 14
Back on the early shift, this is a particularly long day as I have to cover Liverpool’s friendly with Shamrock Rovers at Aviva Stadium in the evening. After finishing in the office at 12pm, I zip home for a bite to eat and some rest.
But it’s back in action at 4pm, where I’m at the Aviva, trawling through the team-sheet, match programme, and double-checking the wi-fi details (always essential) before making my way up to the press box. I have to do updates at the top of the hour as well as half-time and full-time reports.
After the game finishes – a 4-0 win to Liverpool – I head down to the press conference where the star attraction is Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers and he’s there before most journalists. ‘If you’re not fast, you’re last,’ he quips as reporters shuffle into the room.
A response to a question that I asked about Southampton captain Adam Lallana was picked up by a lot of national newspapers and online publications. And before signing off for the evening, I speak to Rovers manager Trevor Croly to ensure that I don’t miss anything and have enough content for the station.
And that brings to close a pretty hectic week. There’s no such thing as a typical working week for a sports reporter, it’s always changing and that’s why I love it. To be honest, working as a sports broadcaster is a job that often doesn’t feel like work. But keep that a secret!
Check out previous ‘My Weeks’ from SWAI members…
Tommy Martin on what goes into producing a live match on TV
Tony O’Donoghue on covering Martin O’Neill’s first week as Ireland boss