Enda McEvoy: It’s only Twitter. Why annoy yourself?

“I hate the GAA,” someone tweeted one morning last week.

No, you’re not getting his name on the basis such people shouldn’t be given the oxygen of publicity. Certainly not in Examiner Sport anyway. For the record his identity is neither here nor there. The individual in question was mildly and briefly well known about 20 years ago but hasn’t been much heard of lately.

In this instance he may have been bored and wanted to stir it, nothing more. Fair enough. One would have thought these soccer-versus GAA battles had long been fought and won and that even the members of the Hot Press School of Perpetual Adolescence had moved on, quite possibly reaching the mindbending conclusion en route that it’s possible to enjoy both soccer and hurling/gaelic football. Clearly not.

The reason he popped up on my Twitter feed was because someone I follow was anxious to show him up and consequently retweeted him. All well and good, except Twitter is no place for shadings and it wasn’t an inevitability everyone who saw the retweet would have yawned and concluded 50 something men really ought to have better things to be doing than purveying such juvenilia. In three and a half wholly enjoyable years on Twitter I’ve learned a few lessons, of which ignoring attention-seekers is merely one. Buckle up.

Don’t get caught up in political arguments. There’s plenty of opinions on Twitter I find laughable, asinine or contemptible. Anyone would, albeit in respect of entirely different tweets. But Twitter isn’t a place for changing other people’s minds. So don’t bother trying.

Don’t get caught up in arguments, full stop. A couple of my acquaintances visibly get off on abrasive back and forths. Good for them. But I joined Twitter to have a little fun and broaden my horizons, not to waste my energy and increase my heart rate getting involved in silly spats. I know I don’t look it but I was a minor in the 1980s. I’m waaaay too old for such nonsense.

Do not tweet about the Cork hurlers when they’re losing. With a couple of minutes left in the 2013 Munster final at the Gaelic Grounds I tweeted “not even Ringy can save Cork now”. It wasn’t meant snidely but it prompted a swift response from an irate Leesider pointing out I was taking the Examiner shilling and shouldn’t be saying such things. Fair cop, guv. To repeat, there’s no art to find the nuance’s construction in the tweet.

Do not tweet just after you’ve come in from the front bar in Langton’s of a Sunday night and are catching up with Match of the Day 2. Nothing good can come thereof. (This one is a work in progress, I’ll admit.) The sheer pointlessness of getting worked up about Twitter was brought home to me the Friday after the US presidential election. The Late Late Show was due to feature a noted British provocateur - I refuse to commit her name to print on, again, oxygen-of-publicity grounds – to bang the drum on Donald Trump’s behalf. Cue much angst and anguish from the delicate, easily outraged Irish flowers of the Twittersphere.

The same afternoon your correspondent was coffeeing with a gentleman who, much to his surprise, had ended up this summer as a sounding board for the members of what turned out to be an All- Ireland-winning camogie team. As sounding boards go it would be hard to find a better example.

This chap is ex-army and has served in more than one global trouble spot. He boasts more degrees and doctorates than you can shake an ash plant at, including a PhD in neuroscience, an MSc in cellular molecular biology and an MSc in family therapies. He was in Kosovo and Rwanda. He’s lectured at West Point. He has counselled US veterans of the Afghanistan and Iraq conflicts suffering with post-traumatic stress disorder. He’s a noted and in-demand public speaker.

In short, he possesses perspective. Needless to say, he’s not on Twitter. And he wasn’t planning on watching the Late Late Show either. His take was simple. “Turn it off or switch channels. Why annoy yourself?” A fiftysomething man affects to hate the GAA. (Or rugby or soccer or road bowling or whatever.) Let’s leave him to it. It’s only Twitter. Why annoy yourself?

Too clever to have heard of Bradman

One doesn’t have to be either Australian or of a certain age to have heard of Don Bradman. Greatest batsman ever. Test batting average a mindboggling 99.94 (ie he averaged nearly a century per Test). The inspiration for and target of Bodyline.

All of which was news to the studious and earnest young men – including their captain, the geeky viral sensation Eric Monkman - on the Wolfson, Cambridge team on University Challenge last week. “Er, Bradshaw..?” they spluttered vaguely when asked about a couple of cricketers.

The three questions about The Fellowship of the Ring, on the other hand, they had the answers to in jigtime. (Tom Bombadil, Weathertop and Elrond, in case you were wondering.) Of course they did. Poor Bradman. Was it for this Harold Larwood and the rest of those evil Poms toured Australia in 1932-33?

Buck House: Did it really happen?

For all the irritations, annoyances and frequent inequities of Irish society, every now and then comes a reminder this country is not the worst of places to inhabit.

So it was during the week with the story of the kidnapped – and, happily, subsequently unkidnapped – greyhound. How ineffably, heartwarmingly Irish. Only in this country could such an event have made the public prints so prominently.

It brought up the memory of a line from journalism college back in the day. “Deaths go on the deaths page in Irish newspapers, unless they’re the deaths of horses, in which case they go on the front page.” No exaggeration, that.

Dawn Run’s demise in Paris in 1986 naturally saw the papers here give it the holly. What’s often forgotten is Buck House, the reigning two-mile champion and her rival in a famous match race at Punchestown that April, died of colic not long afterwards. The story made the RTÉ TV news, accompanied by a clip of his Cheltenham triumph.

In my memory the bulletin cuts back to the newscaster’s desk where Don Cockburn solemnly declares, “That was Buck House, God rest him.” Really. Well, possibly really.

As someone blessed with an inordinately fertile imagination, have I spent the last 30 years convincing myself this happened?

Or did it actually transpire? If any reader can enlighten me I’d be extremely grateful.

Either way it was another of those singularly Irish phenomena. Even if it didn’t occur at all.

Even five minutes was an Olympic waste of time

This newspaper ran a nice ‘What Sport Did You Enjoy Most in the Olympics?’ feature shortly after the RioGames.

Yours truly recused himself from the exercise on the basis, the O’Donovan brothers apart, he watched a total of no more than five minutes of action from the Games.

Last Friday’s Wada revelations about the scale of Russian doping in London four years ago made me angry.

Angry I’d given Rio that much of my time.


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