Fuming gaffers go on fact-finding mission

Miraculously, it has arrived, the watershed to transform our media landscape. Every gaffer in Irish sport is turning into Rafa Benitez, writes Larry Ryan.

Fuming gaffers go on fact-finding mission

Let’s talk about facts.

Éamonn Fitzmaurice may just have begun a movement. The dossier the Kerry boss unloaded last week chronicling Dublin’s dark heart immediately paid for itself last Sunday with Diarmuid Connolly’s black card.

So impressed was Stephen Kenny that he reached for the scrapbook under his bed, tore down the Rinus Michels shrine in his tactics bunker and replaced it with a crazy wall of clippings and reports and sightings of men tumbling to the ground at Turner’s Cross.

Having finally pieced together an “outrageous” penalty area conspiracy, Stephen sounded the bat signal to summon the world’s media. Or at least he alerted the Dundalk FC website. And everyone copied and pasted from there.

What a turnaround it has been for Ireland’s fourth and fifth estates. Just a fortnight ago, a great suspicion prevailed that perhaps dates a quarter of a century to the week Babs Keating gave Cork a donkeys and derbies parable for their dressing room door.

No good could come from talking unnecessarily. From putting your opinions out there.

Sure, messages have occasionally been delivered via the media. Cody mainly, stressing the danger to manliness and savage honesty that diligent rule policing might cause.

And, ironically, there was that time when penalties were harder to come by on Leeside, when Damien Richardson reminded us that Cork were being “ridden rock solid” by people “up in Dublin” where “they don’t give a shite about us”.

But, by and large, lads have tried to keep the heads down. Though the instant dividend accrued by Ireland’s women footballers may also have reminded sport of the persuasive service media can provide.

So, with any luck, by this morning Stephen Kenny’s intrepid research will have paid off. Seanie Maguire will have been denied a stonewall at Dalyer last night and Ciaran Kilduff will be deemed to have earned the right to go down at the Oriel Park.*

And we can spend all summer lounging, feet up, waiting for the next dossier to be sent our way.

Controvassy falling into our laps.

What next?

The Crucible of delay

Moments after he completes a first round World Snooker Championship win over Mark Selby, the gripping fortnight-long tussle finishing a day after the final should have taken place, Fergal O’Brien hits out at the “scandalous” lack of focus on other monotonous episodes.

“Why is nobody talking about Jason Day or Rafa Nadal or the Fair City kidnap plot any more?” he rages.

Conceding in tears after O’Brien tucked him behind the yellow 28 times in a row, Selby officially relinquishes his Jester from Leicester tag.

Nigel Owens blows the whistle

Having failed to find a single Irish website hailing his Champions Cup semi-final banter as the funniest ever, a firm of Dublin audiologists issue, on Owens’ behalf, a report proving Wayne Barnes’ mic is turned up twice as loud.

“Anyone would think there are people tuning in to my games to watch the players,” Owens scoffed. “This is not soccer.”

Making a song and dance

Joe Brolly names and shames everybody in the country who has used a motivational slogan or encouraged the use of scientific performance metrics in a sporting environment. To ramp up interest in his presidential campaign, Joe also releases a catchy complementary Eurovision entry called: “None of that old shite will help you kick a point against Tyrone.”

Anti-social Toffees

After exporting the results of an exhaustive Twitter search into Excel, Martin O’Neill releases a damning set of bar charts to journalists showing Ronald Koeman has never retweeted James McCarthy. Koeman fires back with a report listing two favourites.

Royal ructions

The source is unknown but Wikileaks publishes a comprehensive list of the things a random Meath hurling panelist was doing when he was supposed to be at training. Furious manager Martin Ennis texts everyone in the panel until he gets somebody to admit to missing a challenge match for the season finale of Big Little Lies.

What’s the point?

After Dublin’s 35-point Leinster SFC quarter-final win over Wexford — marred only by a first-minute black card for Diarmuid Connolly — Jim Gavin circulates an 84-page document itemising more than 1,000 other futile exercises that nobody seems too bothered about. Queuing up for a flight, flossing, brain training games and yet another season of Prison Break are all targets of Galvin’s ire.


After finalising details of the documentary and spin-off box set Three Days That Shook Summer, covering Irish rugby’s momentous tour to Japan and USA, Ryle Nugent, Joe Schmidt and sponsors Vodafone issue a collective statement listing all the other non-events that gained primetime coverage on the station. They make a fair point.

*Word from Oriel Park suggests this all rather backfired on Stephen. Forget I said anything.

Wenger in PR men’s hands

If Wenger eventually wriggles out of this one, the case study will feature on every PR module on every marketing masters in the world.

Arsene’s own work in this area has been poor recently, for a man so experienced in countering the wearying deja vu that clouds the Emirates in spring.

Telling us he’d made a decision about his future and would be informing the world soon was not the smartest play from somebody keen to avoid questioning about his future.

But the finest minds in the crisis management game are on the case now and these lads do business a little more subtly, though not much, than by issuing dossiers.

So leaks have leaked and we hear about the transfer warchest and the wage ceiling being shattered and the raft of Gunners legends coming home to help out. If Arsene can be kept on script and away from the familiar phrase “Don’t forget, next season Santi will be like a new signing,” the power of corporate persuasion might just keep him afloat. Though this year, Arsene might have to send the PR men into the dressing room to convince the players.

Rugby Country in bantz war

There was always a danger that banter would tear rugby apart.

Nigel Owens has built a profitable career as a celebrity referee on the back of the catchphrase that beautifully encapsulated a superior way of life: “This is not soccer.”

Nigel Owens
Nigel Owens

But now, former Ireland winger Luke ‘Lukey’ Fitzgerald has hit back at Owens’ show-stealing bantz with the unkindest cut of all. “It’s a soccer thing... the referee trying to be too smart, trying to be friendly with the players.”

As uncivil war threatened to eat at the very core of the game’s sense of enormous well-being, Rugby Country had to made a call.

And the avalanche of abuse for Lukey across the internet suggests, #teamofus or not, it went with Nigel on this one.

As the erudite Dr Anthony O’Connor put it on Twitter: “The Nigel Owens cult in Ireland is an unparalleled sporting phenomenon.”

But somehow, in the bizarro world that is Rugby Country, you wouldn’t expect anything else.

More in this section


Select your favourite newsletters and get the best of Irish Examiner delivered to your inbox


Saturday, December 4, 2021

  • 7
  • 10
  • 26
  • 27
  • 35
  • 43
  • 12

Full Lotto draw results »