Michael Moynihan offers a few random observations form the Winter Olympics.


Slip sliding away from South Korea

Michael Moynihan offers a few random observations form the Winter Olympics.

Slip sliding away from South Korea

1. Any sports event with that range of bobble hat colours and design, I’m all in.

2. Any sports event which has the Olympic Athletes of Russia, not so much. The logic behind this description blows my mind, frankly. Does this mean criminals can now term themselves Persons Convicted of Crime?

3. I didn’t get their names but I heard two lads on the BBC late the other night commentating on the skiing and it sounded like Beavis and Butthead talking to Bigfoot Charlie in We Bare Bears. Entertainment is a thin description.

4. The coverage of the event across the channels is female-dominated at times, whether it’s Clare Balding on the BBC or Clare McNamara on RTÉ. All the better for that.

5. There’s a Banner-based pun in there somewhere. Maybe Beavis and Butthead (see point 3) could dig it out.

6. It was pretty clear Jocelyne Larocque of the Canada ice hockey team wasn’t too happy to come second to the US; she whipped that silver medal off pretty quick when it was presented. Was there really a need to get her to apologise to “the IOC, International Ice Hockey Federation, the Pyeongchang Olympic Organizing Committee, the Canadian Olympic Committee, Hockey Canada and her teammates and fans”, though?

7. Couldn’t she just have described herself as a Player Full of Remorse?

8. Before I forget about coverage, the BBC should hang its head in shame over a jaw-dropping insert about the bronze medal removed from contestant Alain Baxter in 2002, complete with a display of the American version of a Vicks nasal inhaler which Baxter had used. He failed a drugs test. Get over yourselves.

9. I mean, Eamonn Coghlan came fourth in the 5,000 metres in the Moscow Olympics and the man who came third later admitted to blood doping. Can you name him?

10. He was Kaarlo Maaninka, who took gold in the little-known ‘most As in your name’ category.

11. Curling is so last-century.

12. I learned last week that skier Lindsey Vonn incorporates tightrope walking into her training regime, which impressed me so much I almost forgot that she and Tiger Woods used to go out together.

13. Tightrope walking sounds a bit like tree-climbing or poking your hurley into a hedge to shake out a sliotar, an activity you laugh about until some clown says the All Blacks do it because it’s great for the hand-eye co-ordination DO YOU KNOW THEY SWEEP OUT THE SHED YES I DO SHUT UP YOU FOOL.

14. As always happens some Nordic overachievers are sweeping the boards with their childcare and great teeth the springboard for success. Or, as Norwegian Kjetil Jansrud puts it: “We believe there is no good explanation for why you have to be a jerk to be a good athlete. We just won’t have that kind of thing on our team.”

15. Kjetil, put that CV away like a good man. There’s no call for that kind of fancy talk in Irish sport.

16. But just for background, this from the Irish Olympic Council in 2016: “To support Irish participation at the Rio Olympic and Paralympic Games in August and September, a total grant package in excess of €10 million was announced.” According to the Guardian, “Norway’s sports federation has an annual budget of £13.7m for summer and winter sports.”

17. At the time of writing Norway had won 35 medals at Pyeongchang.

18. How’s our bobble hat game?

The power of the GAA in a single tweet

Chrissy McKaigue of Derry and Slaughtneil shared a letter on social media last week that he received from Dr Charles McManus, who was writing to him about a proposed charity match involving the Donegal 2012 team and a team of non-Donegal players.


The game was the brainchild of McManus and Pat Shovelin, but the latter’s untimely passing brought arrangements to a halt.

The letter explains Shovelin’s high regard for McKaigue - you’ll find it at McKaigue’s Twitter feed - but it also explains a lot of other things.

Take a couple of minutes to read it and you’ll learn more about Ireland and the GAA than volumes could tell you.

Would you ‘follow’ climate change?

If there’s a better-known Chinese proverb than the old ‘may you live in interesting times’, I have yet to encounter it.

Less a seanfhocal than a curse, it always reminds me of Humphrey Appleby in Yes Minister intoning suavely, ‘Such a brave decision, minister’, thus making said minister blanch.

Those kinds of brave decisions are necessary now because of the interesting times, of course, given Brexit, the Trumpfoolery and sundry other harbingers of the end-times.

What caught my eye last week was a throwaway line from Eric Lach of the New Yorker about another matter occupying the in-tray; “Are the ups and downs of climate change something to follow in the newspaper, like the Mets or the Yankees?”

Lach’s general point related to the reporting of climate change in remote areas of the globe, and how that fits into what media outlets do: basically, why report on temperature rises in the Arctic or water levels in the Sudan if you live in neither place?

Any sentient adult can answer that pretty quickly - you’d hope - but Lach’s question is an interesting one, because it aligns climate change as a topic with other perennial subjects for discussion. Please, no laboured comparisons between your own objects of emotional abdication (see favourite sports team) and the gradual erosion of hope for all humanity.

This isn’t a plea for stylistic imitation (“the plucky ice shelf was ready to mount a comeback but unfortunately ran out of time”) but there’s a thought-experiment in here somewhere trying to get out.

What if your awareness of sport resembled your knowledge of climate change: a vague acknowledgement of something going on somewhere which doesn’t have a specific resonance for you apart from once or twice a year? Instead of an exhaustive, detailed awareness of every action and event regarding your team you got an update every few months?

(You’d be out of a job - ed.) As you were, everybody. As you were.

Two tips for book lovers

Because I picked them up the same day, I tend to conflate two particular books all the time - Ferdinand Mount’s English Voices and Javier Marias’s Written Lives. Mount has the tidier one-liners, reheating Gladstone on Peel - not far-sighted, but fairly clear-sighted - but Marias has a dreamy appeal occasionally spiked with pungent anecdotes, such as Arthur Conan Doyle punching a train traveller for insulting a woman.

Marias has another book out, Between Eternities And Other Writings (translated by Margaret Full Costa), which counts as good news in any language. Anyone who can file pieces entitled ‘The Most Conceited of Cities’ or ‘Hating The Leopard’ is surely worth a few minutes of your time.

More in this section


Latest news from the world of sport, along with the best in opinion from our outstanding team of sports writers

Sign up

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