Some people might say that Marty Morrissey has a reputation for being a bit of a party-goer and, rather than this being put to bed, this stereotype was actually compounded within moments of meeting the man in question. Marty’s phone has rung and he’s excusing himself from the call: “I’m here with two beautiful ladies from the Farmers Journal and they’re telling me they want to spend the rest of the day with me.”

Marty is in great form – which seems to be his default setting. He’s jolly, affable and very accommodating as he weaves through the RTÉ radio centre looking for somewhere with a suitable backdrop for photos, before turning his attention to finding a cover for the microphone.

But don’t let the relaxed exterior fool you – Marty Morrissey is a serious operator. And we don’t mean this in a sinister sense – rather, he is a high achiever with a very strong work ethic.

Not only was Marty Morrissey on track to become a doctor, but he reached impressive heights on the GAA field too, which is particularly remarkable given he lived in the Bronx until the age of 11. Marty’s dad, a primary school teacher, and hairdresser mother moved to New York two weeks after he was born, so he didn’t grow up playing much GAA.

“But I always had a love for it,” he explains, “I never got the American baseball or American football. I liked basketball, we played basketball in the school in St Anne’s, which I did enjoy, but I didn’t have the same grá as I would have for football and hurling…maybe it was just my Irish DNA.”

The Morrisseys moved back to Ireland when Marty’s parents bought a pub in Quilty, Co Clare, and Marty was sent to school in St Flannan’s College in Ennis, where he was called “the Yank”. But the American boy quickly proved his worth; he was on the Flannan’s senior football team, the Clare minor hurling team and he did trials for the Clare seniors.

Having completed his Leaving Cert, Marty he went on to UCC to study medicine, but after three years he branched off into a science degree “with the intention of going back to do it, to finish it off, but I was never sure about it myself. It just wasn’t – all that blood – I didn’t mind dissecting a rabbit, but dissecting a human was not for me”.

Science degree in hand, Marty went teaching. He had been teaching in Spanish Point for about a year when he started doing match reports on the back of a tractor and trailer. In search of another challenge career-wise, Marty went to NUI Galway and did a master’s in communication.

He started applying to RTÉ, but got rejected for three years, “very nicely being told no”.

Marty says: “The more they said no, the more I said ‘do you know, I really want to do this so’. I was like a dog with a bone. I kept applying and eventually after three years they let me in – well they gave me a chance.”

Marty had built up experience. He had taken a career break from teaching and gone to Cork Multichannel Television where he had “a fantastic time”. He then went into lifestyle television in London.

“I was there when Caimin Jones, who was ex RTÉ, rang me to ask would I become the new news editor of Clare FM. I was hesitant about it because I had only just left Clare and I was saying: ‘God it’s a bit early to go back.’ But I decided it was the right thing to do.”

Rachael English was one of Marty’s colleagues in that news room and he worked there for a while, until Mary Wilson left her role as a reporter in RTÉ Cork to go to Dublin.

“Her job was advertised and I applied, did the interview and I got in the door and that was 1990.”

Marty has been there ever since.

There’s no doubt he got this far by putting the head down and managing a hectic schedule. For example, just last weekend, Marty did the Marty Squad on radio for the All-Ireland football final, he then did the news at 6 and then the news at 9. The following morning he was on Morning Ireland and then the News at One, and then he went home to “grab a couple of hours” before heading to the Ploughing where he is broadcasting live for all the three days on Ploughing Live.

So it’s a good thing Marty loves his job. He says: “The opportunity to commentate on any match is a great honour – to be given the microphone.”

One of Marty’s favourite sports event to commentate on was when Katie Taylor won the gold medal at the London Olympics in 2012 – he did commentary for this on radio and says it “was just incredible” to be there when Katie won her gold.

“It meant a lot to me, still always does, because I thought that was hugely significant – to be at an Olympics and to see her and see her career going the way it did in the build-up to that, and to achieving her goal. I was as happy for her personally as well as just being there because I knew she’d worked her socks off to get there and I’d be a big fan of Katie Taylor’s as a result.”

Marty also says that doing the television commentary on the hurling final a couple of weeks ago “was a huge thing for me, and commentating on Clare winning the All-Ireland in 2013 was special.”

Marty says he hasn’t made any huge errors when doing commentary over the years, though he does recall a game early in his career – the 1992 Kerry v Clare Munster football final.

“Pat Spillane was beside me and I had played for Clare for a number of years and I had played with a lot of the lads who were playing. Basically, the history of this was that way back when I was a young fella, I sat on a wall in Milltown Malbay when Kerry scored nine goals and 21 points to Clare’s 1-9.” Clare were beating Kerry and Marty says: “ I probably got a bit carried away and … I’m always slagged about saying ‘there won’t be a cow milked in Clare’ but that was something we said at home, so I said it, so that probably wouldn’t happen now…”

Marty got to see his own home county win an All-Ireland but who else would he like to see getting silverware?

“To be honest with you, I think everybody would like to see Mayo win the All-Ireland and I’d like to see Waterford win an All-Ireland, I think that Derek McGrath is a good manager and a good guy.”

Marty has a soft spot for Wicklow too. “I lived in Wicklow for a while when I came up to RTÈ first and I’d love to see Wicklow get their act together in the football because they’ve really good footballers but they need to forget about the club rivalry – and that happens. I know it happened in Clare and I can relate to it because when you’re not successful then the club is everything … but I’d love to see Wicklow come along and make a breakthrough.”

The All-Ireland ladies football final is on this weekend and Marty will be reporting from the match for the Six One News and nine o’clock news that night. He’s not favouring either side: “I think Dublin have been knocking on the door in recent times and I’ve been lucky to commentate on both counties winning All-Irelands.

“To me, Cora Staunton is the best footballer I think I’ve ever seen in terms of ladies football, I mean she’s just brilliant and there’s a part of me would love to see her win another All Ireland, and yet I know the Dublin girls really well and they’ve been broken hearted. They’ve been very close to beating Cork and they should have beaten Cork so that’s a hard one to call … it’s great that there’s a new pairing in some ways ... and it’s amazing that Cora Staunton played in the 2003 All-Ireland final 14 years ago and she’s going to be playing in this All-Ireland final again.”

Irish Country Living didn’t fully appreciate the technical editorial skill involved in commentary until we hear Marty discussing its inner workings.

He notes: “On television you’re only enhancing the pictures. When you’re on television, you hardly ever give the score, where as on radio you have to give the score every minute or two because there’s nothing worse than somebody who’s just sat into their car and they start shouting at the radio and saying: ‘Marty will you please give us the score.’ Because I am that person!”

There’s no doubt Marty has lived the sports journalism dream but he doesn’t want to stop there.

He would like to do other things: “I enjoy doing the Ploughing, I like doing Bloom I love working with Áine Lawlor … I enjoy filling in for Ryan Tubridy or whoever it is.”

Marty says he is not leaving sports by any means but “we all need new challenges, new targets to reach.”

If you want to meet Marty yourself, you might catch him going around the Ploughing site in a golf cart (“it’s called all sorts of things The Marty Mobile, The Pope Mobile, The Lawlor Mobile, call it whatever you like”) but you’ll probably be fighting with his army of followers for a selfie or a handshake. But the attention doesn’t faze Marty: “It’s great, look, isn’t it a wonderful thing that people even want to say hello. You know, I do appreciate it, but to go around in a golf cart for three days in between doing the show is great fun, it’s just hilarious.” CL