Last Saturday afternoon, I had occasion to go into a pub in the afternoon with somebody, and that person summed up my feelings in one sentence when the blare from the televisions hit us.
‘Christ, is the Premier League almost back already?’
It seems as if the competition came to an end about 20 minutes ago, which makes its impending return all the more baffling. Surely in a sleek glass-and-steel dungeon somewhere the minions of the Premier League are plotting some kind of temporal displacement where the soccer season doesn’t go on forever, which would be no challenge, but an illusion whereby the Premier League season doesn’t just end, but begins again immediately, thus combining the orgy of recap with the frenzy of forecast.
I can’t say I’m looking forward to the resumption of banalities. My pretentious rationalisation is the argument of Raymond Williams, the Marxist, about the persuasiveness of bourgeois taste: Williams said the great confidence trick of the bourgeois is to convince that their tastes are natural and inevitable, and a commitment to the Premier League fits that description perfectly.
Only a few short years I glimpsed an interview with an English TV presenter in which he crystallised that argument perfectly when confessing he had adopted a Premier League team as a social lubricant (I think it was Chelsea, not that it matters).
I don’t intend to fall into the trap of comparing the players in the English top flight to other sports people. To me that’s an easy out — not that I haven’t done it myself in the past — because it implies a false set of assumptions. You can’t compare a Kilkenny hurler or a Leinster rugby player with a player in the Premier League. For this observer the most objectionable aspect of the entire enterprise is not the admittedly unpleasant individuals playing the game, but the entire enterprise.
Recently I drew the ire of a few Twitter followers for suggesting that the forthcoming movie, Sharknado, would be an entertaining watch (in the interests of accuracy, my actual words were ‘the greatest movie ever made.’)
The difference between Sharknado and the Premier League is that a movie about a tornado full of sharks only comes along once in a blue moon. Just a pity you couldn’t say the same about what’s coming next month. Again.
Championship matters with tuna sandwich brigade
The ham sandwiches are without compare here. I’ll give you that.
Gunter Mahan. Crazy.”
“You don’t have kids yourself, boss?”
“I’d buy a few for $1,008,000, put it that way.”
“$108m dollars wouldn’t buy your way out of that doghouse, put it another way.”
“I see them bringing sandwiches across the field again. Fair dues.”
“If they brought them around the terrace you’d be lucky to get the plate up here.”
“You’ve never tried those tuna sandwiches, obviously. I believe some of them were refused at the 1913 Munster final. They spoke back.”
“Knock it off. They’re grand.”
“That’s because you’re from an inland county. You’re not accustomed to fresh seafood. That’s the problem with fish in Tipperary.”
“Ah, they probably have a tuna farm down Borrisoleigh side, surely.”
“The ham sandwiches are without compare here. I’ll give you that. And the chocolate Swiss roll? You couldn’t improve on that.”
“Not all about the food, though. What about the atmosphere?”
“I miss the helicopters, to be honest. It’s not the same since we lost all those choppers landing down behind the Dome. Downdraft. All that craic.”
“They were probably saying the same years ago when people stopped using bikes. Progress. Inevitable forward movement. March of progress.”
“You just can’t help yourself, can you? How would you phrase the lack of helicopters?”
“Post-Celtic Tiger Ireland. Fiscal realities. Austerity bites. Choose your cliche.”
“I’ll keep that for half-five when I’ve to write, thanks.”
“Speaking of, James McGrath here giving an interview.”
“The morning that the man he sent off is playing. One for the Cork dressing room, anyway.”
“Hang on, here are the Cats out. Get the game face on.”
“What are you looking for?”
“What did they do with the Kellys of Fantane sign that used to be over there on the other stand, do you know?”
“They took it down when the Kellys moved into organic tuna farming, I think.”
Dealing with the fourth estate a tough station
I note the departure of Pat Geraghty as Munster Rugby press officer recently, an exit which has not drawn as much comment from the fourth estate as I might have expected.
Well, I wish Pat the best in his new venture, having dealt with him for many years in his last parish.
At one point we were chatting about journalists and their requests and demands, and Pat pointed out that some members of the press were unnecessarily sensitive, and seemed unhappy and dissatisfied no matter what was done for or with them.
His evidence was pretty persuasive, as he instanced some pretty precious behaviour, but that’s not the sole reason I raise the interface of media and sport here.
Quite a few people have mentioned Dónal Óg Cusack’s column on the GAA website to me in recent days, and a couple of them asked if I’d be writing about it.
Afraid not: I doubt there’s anything better designed to get a reader flicking past the words you sweated blood over than a column in which one columnist talks about another columnist.
I wasn’t too surprised to read what was written, knowing the man who wrote it. I’ll leave it at that.
Finding an alternative angle on pitch battles
Interesting to chat to Donnchadh Walsh of Kerry last Thursday at the Kingdom’s press night. Walsh was prodded by a member of the press about poaching before proceedings got underway, and the wing-forward retorted with an effortless putdown about cooking procedure.
We asked about Walsh’s TV-watching habits when it comes to football games, whether he paid attention to runs off the ball and so on. He pointed out that often that kind of action — guys making themselves available up the field etc — was going on at the very periphery of the screen, adding that another television screen showing the action 50 yards from the action would be handy.
Of course, it’s been done. Back in the 70s, Kevin Heffernan had games filmed for his Dublin team, but Heffernan didn’t leave anything to chance. He had two cameras filming the two halves of the field, so that both the ball-specific action could be seen as well as the runs and other movement occurring far from the focus of most observers. Nothing new under the sun, as the man said.
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