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Clare reporter not offended by ‘leprechaun’ remarks following exchange with Pep Guardiola

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*Jim Conlan. Photograph: Burren Eye Photography

A West Clare sports reporter has said he doesn’t take offence to remarks passed about his accent following an exchange with Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola.

Ballynacally native Jim Conlan was the subject of plenty online commentary following a press conference with Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola on Tuesday in the aftermath of their 4-0 victory over Crystal Palace on Monday night.

Considered as one of the greatest managers of his generation, Guardiola has not been shy when it comes to his criticism of the media, particularly those covering the Premier League. On three occasions, he led Barcelona to La Liga glory and likewise for Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga, in his five seasons with Manchester City he has guided them to two Premier League titles. He criticised the English media last year who he felt were cheering on Liverpool to win the League.

Tuesday was not Pep’s first interaction with Conlan. When the former Clare minor gaelic football selector questioned the Spaniard on whether he further additions planned in the January Transfer Window, he was given a one word reply “no”.

Speaking to The Clare Echo, Jim admitted that he wasn’t overly surprised to receive such a short response to his lengthy forty word question albeit he would have preferred to receive more detail. “I thought he might elaborate if he wasn’t going to dip into the market that he would have stated that he had full confidence in his current squad and the options at his disposal. He sounded like a guy who knew that the options he wanted was not available to bring in the door in this transfer window so for him it was quite simple to give a No response. As for him elaborating further I’d say he wasn’t interested when he knew the players he wanted were not available”.

As a result of the pandemic, press conferences for Premier League managers are held remotely. Ordinarily it is not where you would find a reporter for Raidio Corca Baiscinn, the West Clare community radio station putting questions to some of the highest paid managers in sport.

Conlan has put questions to managers such as Jurgen Klopp, Carlo Ancelotti, Frank Lampard, Marcelo Biesla, Graham Potter and Nuno Espírito Santo. On how he ended up on the Zoom conferences, Jim said, “I have my own contacts network built up within the sports media throughout the years as a freelance journalist whom I have worked with in the past outside of my operating role on the RCB sport team”.

His question to Guardiola on Tuesday morning was shared on the Instagram page of Sky Sports which has over 6 million followers. Comments poking fun at Jim’s accent have been made with some calling him an “Irish culchie” and “the most Irish sounding reporter ever” while a previous interview with Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta saw one comment on YouTube read “who is this Irish leprechaun masquerading as a journalist”.

Like many individuals in the profession, Jim has learned to pay little attention to negative comments that can emerge from the public. “I suppose English fans expect to hear English journalists at press conferences so it doesn’t surprise me. It would be a bit like an English soccer journalist interviewing Kerry manager Peter Keane but soccer is a global game and it extends beyond England”.

He added, “I saw a few posts saying that I had Cork accent which I found more offensive”.

Páraic McMahon is Head of News & Sport with The Clare Echo. The Newmarket-on-Fergus native also writes for national papers including The Irish Examiner, The Irish Independent and The Irish Times along with doing work for RTÉ, Today FM, TheJournal.ie and The42.ie. A graduate of Mary Immaculate College, Páraic was previously employed by The Clare Herald and Clare FM. If you have a story, tip or some feedback for him then send an email to - paraic@clareecho.ie

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