It all goes back to Flann O’Brien, of course, as most column-related innovations do.
The great man was fond of celebrating an unsung hero of Irish life, a little-known lady named Bid. Flann pointed out that there was hardly a problem on the island of Ireland which this brave woman shrank from.
‘Bid to stop strike’; ‘Bid to intervene in dispute’; ‘Bid to save jobs’.
Who else but Bid?
Flann should be living at this hour. He might have had a lot of fun with a reversal of that scenario, a modern situation which highlights how sports news is conveyed, and by whom.
Specifically Dem Ija, who sounds like a promising recruit in the Chelsea club system, or maybe a middle-distance runner who decided to declare for Sweden ahead of the Olympics.
Dem Ija is, in fact, the fourth estate. In the last week or so I heard a pundit blame Dem Ija for, among other issues, the interest in the Waterford tactical approach in hurling, the state of the toilet facilities in the Olympic Village, the despair about Gaelic football, the disconnect between the FAI and the League of Ireland (see elsewhere on the page for more on this matter).
This is not a plea for mercy for Dem Ija, troublesome rapscallion that he is, particularly as he cannot even rely on his own membership to stick up for him. Recently I saw a pundit on the television refer with a straight fact to Dem Ija despite himself being on television, in print, on social media ...
Nothing is funnier than someone who is across all platforms of communication himself referring to the great world of the media as though talking about something so alien to him there was a danger it might steal his soul, like a Lakota Sioux casting spells to ward off the influence of the iron horse.
Complaining about Dem Ija is a losing game. The Romans had a term for it in classical rhetoric, ad hominem, in which the character of the person making an argument is attacked rather than the substance of his proposition; we usually refer to it as shooting the messenger nowadays.
There’s a subtle difference to those complaints now, though, in that people’s general media literacy means they understand that under-pressure managers and sportspeople feel they have to lash out at the press first, almost as a safety valve, before engaging with the substance of the issue at hand. It’s part of the game pundits and participants understand well: we start with dismissals of the role Dem Ija played in creating this controversy and then, when that steam has been released, we discuss it like real grown-ups.
Take the instances quoted above: yes, Waterford play a certain way, which doesn’t mean the Rapture is at hand; yes, you flush the toilets and run the taps and water comes out of the walls in the Village; no, it’s not attractive at present and hasn’t been for quite some time; as for the last, well ...Flann would probably be the man to tease that one out, but there’s only so much dazzling invention any man is capable of.
Fans must support League of Ireland
Kudos to Dundalk FC and Cork City, both of whom performed so well in European competition last week. City gave a brave display against Genk but went out, while Dundalk’s win over BATE was a highlight of the sporting year: the fact that BATE was capitalised in all reporting on the game just underlined, or rather UNDERLINED, the defeat, of course.
The two games, and Dundalk’s win in particular, coincided with the FAI announcement that it was going to allocate funding to League of Ireland clubs, a measure which was followed by a hard-hitting statement from St Patrick’s Athletic late last week.
The Dublin club said it would not accept “the offer of €5,000 made by the FAI towards the expenses of each club in preparing a five-year plan”. The club described the offer as “proverbial crumbs from the rich man’s table”.
A parallel question is, of course, why the droves who were serenading nuns all over France a few weeks ago don’t support their local teams?
Did you know Dóirín Mhic Mhurchú?
Last week I enjoyed a chat with Donie Mac Murchú - if you didn’t see the piece (in last Saturday’s paper) then you probably remember him as the cameraman in the Waterford top who was caught celebrating on camera himself when his county reached the 2008 All-Ireland final.
In the midst of our chat, Donie mentioned his grandmother: “Her name was Dóirín Mhic Mhurchú, she has been acknowledged as the first female sports-GAA reporter in Ireland. She was good friends with Micheál Ó Muircheartaigh at the time.
“She would have been reporting for the Cork Examiner, the Munster Express, local papers in Dungarvan, Raidio Na Gaeltachta and non-sporting publications like the Holly Bough up in Cork and Ireland’s Own. She played camogie for our local club, An Rinn, and won a Waterford Junior Camogie County Final in 1974 at the age of 44 with her 15 year-old-daughter Áine also on the team (her first grandson Fionn was in attendance).”
Sounds like a topic worth revisiting. Any more info would be welcomed here at email@example.com
An early Christmas stocking filler
Half a lifetime ago — or maybe half a stone ago — yours truly provided hapless resistance as a right-full in a Dublin night soccer league. It took me an entire season to learn the most basic requirement of any full-back worth his salt, the accusing finger pointed at a teammate when a goal goes in.
The man on the other wing to me was a good deal tidier (and more supportive), but you may know him better as Dave Hannigan, whose new book is out now — Drama In The Bahamas: Muhammad Ali’s Last Fight.
Fans of good sports books will recall that Dave has form in this area, having written the terrific The Big Fight about Muhammad Ali’s fight in Dublin against Al ‘Blue’ Lewis in 1972. This one begins with a bang and holds the interest: if there isn’t as much of Jack Lynch as we got in The Big Fight, well, we can overlook that for once.
It also checks the box for many of us, the sports book which isn’t a sports biography, and is all the better for that.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved