Cormac MacConnell: Will the Clingdom prevail in Stroke Park?

It would make our lives so much brighter and stimulated if those dedicated journalists from all shades of the media who have to cover the political events of the day were given the same freedom of expression as their colleagues who keep us abreast of sporting matters.

Kerry TD Danny Healy-Rae in the Kerry football colours. Picture: Eamonn Keogh www.macmonagle.com

I accept that sporting matters, for most of us, are infinitely more exciting than our frequently boring politics, but that gulf could be sharply narrowed, in this view, if political journalists were freed to use the colourful language and cliches of the sport pages.

As a young reporter in Dublin many years ago, I was only dispatched by The Irish Press to cover the Dail proceedings three times.

It was dreadfully boring. I fell asleep most of the time as the voices droned on and on, and the ritual cut and thrust of a Dail day lacked the kind of fire and fury one experiences at any kind of even middling football or hurling match.

I begged the newsdesk not to send me there again, and thankfully, my request was granted. Back then, Dail coverage was little more than basic stenography.

Most reportage from there still echoes that reality.

However, if the hacks on duty in Leinster House were allowed to hang their stories around the lovely lingo of sporting coverage, it is likely we would all be riveted to the political pages we might skip through nowadays.

Imagine a situation where, instead of hearing about the pressures on a fragile minority Government we would be hearing about, say, a team called The Clingdom grimly holding on to power in testing games in Stroke Park, where every political stroke is a point over the bar in your favour.

Colourfully inventive phrases and terms like that would appeal to many of us. Surely, another pure truth.

In this lively coverage I am sure that Taoiseach Enda Kenny is likely to be called his side’s durable and crafty skipper, a longtime All Star who has played the game at the top level for decades, despite losing many skirmishes, a born survivor against high odds. His upcoming trip to the White House would likely be called a challenging away game for the highest of stakes.

I think he would be seen as his side’s full back, centre of the last line of defence against incoming high balls, defiantly guarding his home parallelogram against all comers.

When we examine the members of the Clingdom side which Mr Kenny skippers today, there are direct links between the political and the real GAA county team situation.

In many counties, down all the decades, there have been fierce club rivalries, which linger when opposing club men are selected for their county. For example, in the ranks of the Clingdom side on duty in Stroke Park, there are relatively gifted players like Varadkar and Coveney, out in the midfield positions, and Bruton, fielding as a seasoned half-back, who would all have designs on the skipper’s jersey in the near future.

All are striving to leave their mark on the game, especially maybe Varadkar on a daily basis.

In Stroke Park this spring, as the game develops, it is probably likely that the fragile team led by Enda Kenny at full-back would be seen by many as having hardy defenders like Denis Naughten, Michael Creed, Paschal Donohoe, and the tough Charlie Flanagan, in support of their skipper.

The vital medical and physio unit would be formed by Frances Fitzgerald and Heather Humphries, with Zappone as the PRO.

The medical unit would be often on the field of play ministering to the veteran full-forward Michael Noonan, who has lost a lot of pace with the years, but is still worth his place on the edge of the square, to throw his bulk around and capitalise on any loose balls.

PRO Zappone would also be kept busy with sections of the media explaining the frequency of the yellow cards being dished out in almost every game to temperamental though gifted left half-forward Shane Ross. “He will come good in the end” will be the recurring message, which many readers may doubt, as the season progresses.

Threaded through this brand of sporting coverage of the political season will be a great deal of positive comment about the exploits and performances of the young right corner-forward, Simon Harris. Though only promoted last season from the under-21 squad, and deemed unworthy of a senior jersey by some at the start of the season, the novice is already being tipped for an All-Star award, and it has been noted by the hacks that he has been the supplier of many of the probing crosses which veteran Noonan has been able to convert into scores in the cauldron of Stroke Park.

Is it not the truth that this was more interesting reading than today’s ordinary Dail report?



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