Monday 9 June 2008

The Peculiarities Of The Irish Sporting Summer. On Television.

Yesterday afternoon, as I sat nursing an angry stout hangover whilst watching Tipperary beat Cork in the Munster Hurling Championship, a profound sense of national identity threatened to overwhelm me. The cause of this impulse? The following nuggets of punditry by Michael Duignan and Cyril Farrell.

Duignan praising Eoin Kelly's first half goal:

"That's brilliance at its best Marty."

Farrell discussing the proximity of an Eoin Kelly free to the Cork posts:

"Sure that's like throwing nuts to a monkey."

Of course it is, Cyril. Of course it is... Now, I realise that sport is ordinarily not the remit of The New(ish) Journalism, but I felt that I must use this forum of mine to give props to RTE's televisual GAA commentary and analysis. There is a unique and vibrant poetry to it all. Is there another land in which thirty men attempting to decapitate each other with sticks would glibly be referred to as a "schmozzle"? Is such a colloquialism the result of a wild and pagan Celtic idiom at odds with the colonial structure of the Queen's language? Or is it merely a load of rural ráiméis? I suppose the answer to that question depends on you and your connection to The Parish. Or lack thereof.

A connection. Something that is once again missing at a major international soccer tournament. Euro 2008 is upon us, no Irish presence, and yet RTE still insists on getting Pavlovian on our asses. Advertisement and analysis seep forth at every opportunity, a constant bell ensuring our constant salivation. Yet there will be no food, no substance. Instead, a maelstrom of the inconsequential. Germany will win a match on penalties. Cristiano Ronaldo will cry. The Beeb will vacuously fawn and/or bemoan the lack of an English presence. Giles and Dunphy will self-contradict lyrical about the death of the game, the lack of "great players" and work ethic. You already know these things, and you don't really care.

Face it. The Irish people need a parochial interest in their summertime sport. Celebration of artistry is all well and good, but an emotional edge is our necessity. It comes with the involvement of your county team in the autumn. It comes with the well intentioned stutterings of our soccer team in the group stages and subsequent moral victory married with demented binge drinking. It comes with the glorious and hypocritical schadenfreude enjoyed when observing the pantomime that is Team Eng-Ger-Lund in such competition. Alas, it just ain't coming from Austria or Switzerland.

Still, at least Aprés Match is back on our screens. In celebration, the very first glimpse of the group's parody stylings on Irish television... A sketch on Barry Murphy's Friday night version of The End in 1994... Memories:



Yes indeed, glorious memories.

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