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Monday, 10 June, 2002, 10:32 GMT 11:32 UK

Dunphy: I was not drunk

Suspended RTE soccer analyst Eamon Dunphy has denied he was drunk when he made a "brief" appearance before the cameras on Sunday morning.

The former Irish soccer international was dropped from the studio team of experts by the state-backed station on Sunday because, it said, he had "been unable to fulfil the terms of his contract."

The move followed RTE coverage of Japan's tie with Russia.

The broadcasting company gave no further reasons for its decision at the time.

However Dunphy - one of the most controversial figures on the Irish soccer scene, and scheduled to meet RTE chiefs on Monday about his World Cup future - admitted: "It was my fault. I am accepting responsibility".

" I was not actually drunk - I had been "
Eamon Dunphy

Dunphy, now reckoned to be Ireland's highest paid journalist, said his behaviour had been "irresponsible" but he denied the charge of being drunk.

"I did not fulfil my contractural obligations, and I was wrong.

"I was irresponsible and quite wrong.

"I was not actually drunk - I had been. I had not been terribly drunk, but I had not slept, or been to bed."

Dunphy, a one-time Manchester United player, is no stranger to controversy over his views about successive Irish international soccer squads.

Last month he emerged as one of the most outspoken critics of Irish manager Mick McCarthy for sending home star midfielder Roy Keane after a row with the Cork-born Manchester United player.

He maintained the criticism despite Ireland's encouraging start to their World Cup finals campaign.

At one stage Dunphy said he hoped Ireland would lose their matches against Cameroon and Germany.

After the Cameroon match, Dunphy said he would "hate" the Irish team to get through their group and "to come home covered in glory and for nobody to question the Football Association of Ireland".

Back in 1990, Dunphy was highly critical of McCarthy's predecessor, Jack Charlton, then managing Ireland as they contested the World Cup finals in Italy.

Charlton, a World Cup winner as a player with England in 1966, dismissed his detractor as "a bitter little man".

On Monday Dunphy told RTE: "Once journalists become part of the story, it's wrong and it's dangerous.

"This is a very bad week for me professionally. I screwed up. But nobody's died and we will get over it."

After gaining creditable draws in both Cameroon and German ties, Ireland take on Saudi Arabia on Tuesday, needing a 2-0 win to be sure of a place in the next round.

But as things stand at the moment, Dunphy - Roy Keane's biographer, as well as a noted broadcaster and writer - seems unlikely to be part of the RTE panel for the crunch game.

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