RTÉ SPORT CAME in for criticism recently following the announcement of their shortlist for Sportsperson of the Year.

Many were left puzzled by the inclusion of Olympic silver medalist and gold medalist at the World Championships Paul O’Donovan, and the omission of his brother Gary who was his rowing partner in Rio.

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Others questioned whether national sports like GAA should have representatives alongside international athletes, while many were disappointed that Ireland footballer Robbie Brady, Thomas Barr and Rory McIlroy were also excluded.

Sports journalists Eamon Dunphy, Eamonn Sweeney and Paul Kimmage criticised the shortlist, prompting a reaction from Head of RTÉ Sport Ryle Nugent.

Dunphy Sweeney and @PaulKimmage are clearly entitled to their opinions on @RTEsport awards short lists but none asked us about criteria

— Ryle Nugent (@ryle_nugent) December 12, 2016

Source: Ryle Nugent/Twitter

Speaking to the Irish Daily Star today, Nugent elaborated on why he reacted to the comments and explained the process that produced the 12 nominations.

“That was absolutely how I was looking at it (cheap shots), 100% how I was looking at it. I said what I said and I don’t want to go over it again, but we have had a phenomenal year. It’s easy to say ‘them out there don’t know what they’re doing.

“Look at the thousands of hours we produced this year across radio and television. Put it against the British broadcasters, who are much better resourced. It stands up, and I’m incredibly proud of that and everyone involved.

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“It’s a subjective thing. Everyone has an opinion and we’re in the opinions business. Most of the time I don’t react because we provide opinion on everything we do. But when the opinion is based on a foundation of sand and comes from guys that should know better, I just thought ‘ok, enough now.’

“Don’t think we didn’t go through a significant process and have some criteria. The inference was that we just pulled the names out of a hat. I have no issue with RTÉ Sport being criticised. We’re not perfect, by any means. But when you have people pointing the finger and going ‘they don’t know what they’re doing… that got me frustrated.”

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