Michael Lyster: 'I can't say I want to go, but I can't say that I don't either'

RTÉ have drawn up a shortlist of names to replace Michael Lyster as host of The Sunday Game, writes Stephen Barry.

Lyster confirmed his retirement as host at the end of this year's championship, and revealed that RTÉ intend to announce his successor in the next fortnight.

In a statement released this afternoon, Lyster said, "I'll be hanging up my hat at the end of 2018. I've a full season of top class GAA action to get through with the National Leagues and of course the Championships this summer and that's what I'm focused on.

"There's some really exciting changes to come in this year's Championship and I'm looking forward to seeing how they will impact the game.

"Following my health scare a few years ago, every day and every year was a bonus. That's the mindset I've continued to have and I feel incredibly lucky to have another season to look forward to at the helm".

Speaking on the Ray D'Arcy Show, Lyster was quizzed about his potential replacement.

"I can tell you honestly that I don't know," replied Lyster. "I know who is on the shortlist. This will be revealed by RTÉ in the next week or two so we will wait and see how that one goes.

"Part of the reason that my retirement snuck out at the weekend was because this announcement is going to be made by RTÉ in the near future anyway."

D'Arcy then asked: "Do you have to go?

Lyster: "Yes , I do because the difference between me and other presenters in RTÉ is I'm a full time staff member so there is, therefore, a retirement cut off age and I will be reaching that next year. I'm not on contract so that's boxed off."

D'Arcy: "Do you want to go?"

Lyster: "I can't say that I want to go but then I can't say that I don't either. Look, I've had a big run at this - this year will be my 35th year presenting the The Sunday Game and that's not a bad innings. On a second note to that, next year I'll be 40 years in RTÉ so I think you deserve the t-shirt at that stage."

He added: "Because I was a staff member, I knew that this day was coming. There is an advantage to that whereas if you were on a contract work, they get called in some day and are told, 'we're moving on, we're not renewing your contract'. In my case, it's not an issue."

Speaking about how a major heart attack in 2015 affected him, Lyster said: "The last couple of years, without being overly dramatic, I regard them as bonus years. Not just in terms of career because what happened to me in 2015, I was one of the very few people who survived.

"I think it's 5% or 6% and those 5/6% are already in hospital when it happened and have immediate access to medical assistance so all of that puts things into perspective for me.

"You get on with your life, I'm not dwelling on it - there are more important things out there than careers or television stations."

By Stephen Barry

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