Friday, August 25, 2006

Let Them Eat Cake - Dublin Media Disgrace Themselves

Shane 'Cake' Curran - vox clamantis in desertoLike a famous seafaring man, An Spailpín Fánach has stood what he can stand and he can’t stand no more. It was Tommy Carr that finally bate Banagher, and An Spailpín was caught in the aftershock.

Liam McHale (how old the big man looks! Time, you subtle thief of youth!) and Tommy Carr were the guest analysts on Setanta’s GAA show last night. McHale was being reasonable and even handed. Tommy Carr, however, has seen the Light. Like stout Cortez gazing at the pacific, Tommy has never seen glory to compare with this year’s Dublin football team. All opposition will fall before their mighty sword. The rest of the country can only look on their works, and despair.

And, in fact, the rest of the country can’t even do that. As far as Thomas is concerned, this is a strictly Dublin occasion, and the rest of the country can go whistle. Thomas was asked by presenter Mal Keaveney what Tommy thought of Leitrim people – Leitrim! – being allowed into Croke Park when They were playing. Tommy didn’t like it wan bit. “How many people would you get at a Leitrim league game?” sniffed Tommy.

For An Spailpín, to remove his shoe and prepare to hurl it at the telly was the work of an instant. Happily, your correspondent remembered that if he did that there’d be no more Buffy, and thus I re-shod. Still fuming, An Spailpín went for a drive to calm down.

While driving, I was tuned into Sportstalk on Newstalk 106, the Dublin station that has won the national license. Newstalk is over-rated; not the least of their faults is their lax attitude to swearing on radio. It sounds juvenile and unprofessional. Anyway, it plays a part in our story. Churchgoers, brace yourselves.

When I tuned in to Newstalk, the Sportstalk presenter, Eoin McDevitt, read out a text message from a Louth listener, who opined that he couldn’t wait until Newstalk went national, as then he wouldn’t have to listen to “all this Dublin shite.”

McDevitt, in that affected tone that seems the house style on that show, remarked haughtily that Dublin is the national capital in a tone of voice that will have chilled the souls of listeners who may have expected Newstalk to broaden their reach in October; it seems more likely that Ireland will simply be treated to diluted Dublin fabulousness instead, judging from Mr McDevitt’s tone and remarks. An Spailpín’s knuckles were whitening around the steering wheel at this point. Then, the coup de grace.

Roddy Collins was on the line, talk about FAI soccer. What did Roddy think of that text message?

“That fella can’t have been a GAA man,” said Roddy. An Spailpín, ever safety-conscious, parked up and put on the hazards. This could get nasty. Roddy spoke on.

“If it wasn’t for de Dubs, who else would fill Croke Park?” asked Roddy, warming to his theme. Selah! cried the Dublin media whored. Jesus wept, cried An Spailpín Fánach.

It will be a cold, cold day in the fiery pit of Hell before An Spailpín Fánach takes instruction from Roddy Collins on what a GAA man is or ain’t. But it’s clearly plain that the national media do not have a rashers, do not have the first clue how the Association is set up and what makes it tick.

The GAA does not need Dublin. Dublin – the city and community, insofar as it can be said to exist – need the GAA more desperately than they can possibly imagine, and they are going precisely the wrong way about it. The GAA is built from the bottom up, not the top down. 60,000 or 160,000 drunks in Croke Park, not knowing if they were watching Bryan Cullen and the Dubs or Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones, will not make one whit of difference. That’s not how it works.

Tommy Carr made a lousy crack about Leitrim league attendance. Tommy chose to ignore – and was shamefully not called to account by presenter Mal Keaveney – how odd it is that Dublin should get more than 40,000 tickets for Sunday’s game by some sort of divine right when Dublin play their own league fixtures in a stadium that only holds 12,000, if that, and not a peep from them about the injustice of that to the remaining 28,000 and more who are suffering so badly this week. The most charitable deduction An Spailpín Fánach can make is that Tommy spent too much time while manager of Roscommon trying to keep up with the hectic pace and high standard of drinking in his squad, and all that booze has burned out such brains as Tommy was originally granted by God. Nothing else is feasible.

The low water mark of this shameful week, media-wise, was Park Live on RTÉ 2. An Spailpín Fánach does not watch Park Live as a rule, as his digestion is delicate and his aesthetic acute, but your faithful quillsman is assured that this show was sickening beyond belief. Most astonishing of all was the show’s decision to interview those prominent GAA men Gordon D’Arcy and Eric Miller about their great love of the Dublin football team. In a word: why? Surely not because Shane Horgan’s brother is a colleague of Park Live presenter Ger Gilroy in his day job at Newstalk 106 (yes – the Dublin media is v. incestuous indeed), and maybe they could all go on the batter together after the show? On the far side of the Liffey, of course.

And in all this, one light in the darkness. The former Roscommon goalkeeper Shane “Cake” Curran was a guest on the show, brought on with Charlie Redmond. Cake’s presence was odd, as, being a former Roscommon keeper, he wouldn’t be the biggest Mayo fan in the world. Perhaps they brought him on to talk about the Roscommon minors? No; of course not. How silly of me. Perhaps they brought him on because, really, who can tell one bogger from another?

Cake sensed that fair play was not being done. This is a unique occasion in Croke Park on Sunday, with three Connacht teams playing on the one day, and the only team the media are concentrating on is Dublin, Dublin, Dublin. Cake was only on the show as a token bogger. Time for the mouse to roar.

Charles Redmond was being interviewed by Ger Gilroy, Gilroy trying to pin Charles down on exactly what level of luminescence would be achieved by those brilliant boys in blue on Sunday. Charles reached deep into the cliché box, and started firing them out. They’ll need to be up for this one Ger. Take nothing for granted. If they don’t play for the full seventy minutes they’ll lose. Make no mistake about it, this is a good Mayo team.

“That’s funny,” says Cake. “Charlie was telling me in the green room that Mayo would be doing well to score eight points on Sunday.”

Collapse of stout party, as a Connacht flag fluttered once, briefly, and then was gone. Cake can kiss his chances of supplanting Paul Curran or Kevin McStay on that nice soft couch on the Sunday Game after that shocking display of ingratitude and free thinking, but no matter. Surely this Rossie will go to Heaven. Thanks for that, Cake. It meant a lot in depressing week for Irish sports journalism.

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