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Saturday 16 December 2017

George Byrne: Yes, Delaney was a bit of buffoon, but this video is just a storm in a Bath-tub

FAI's John Delaney.
FAI's John Delaney.

Great, now you can land yourself in trouble for singing in The Bath.

Alas, in the case of the FAI's chief executive John Delaney he wasn't warbling away while conducting his ablutions - and who of us hasn't essayed an Elvis or simulated a Smokey beneath the comforting stream of a hot shower?

Rather, he was caught on camera bellowing a ballad in The Bath pub following Ireland's facile 4-1 friendly victory over the USA last week.

Delaney has plenty of previous when it comes to this 'man of the people' malarkey, buying rounds for people on away trips and, most benignly, throwing his green silk tie into the crowd on one occasion, but he did step slightly over the line with this one.

maudlin

The fact that the highest-paid sports official in the country couldn't carry a tune if he was supplied with a 40-foot container is neither here nor there, but the actual context is what counts here.

The song itself has to come into consideration. And the tune, if it could be classed as such, is one of those maudlin, moronic dirges beloved of the likes of the Wolfe Tones and their rabble-rousing ilk, about Joe McDonnell, an IRA terrorist who died on hunger strike in Long Kesh in 1981.

Now, John Delaney is as entitled as anyone else to his personal beliefs about dead paramilitary thugs, but the notion that the head of one of the country's biggest sporting bodies was caught on the sly, as it were, in a pub around the corner from the Aviva Stadium and unaware of what he was doing simply beggars belief.

Delaney knows how the PR game works, he knows that any engagement in a public place, whether he's on the clock or not, contains people who'll record two flies crawling up a wall on their phones for 'posterity'.

Never mind the head of the FAI singing some lament for a deceased terrorist.

It's actually quite strange to think that this wee farce should occur in a week when the UK broadsheets and the FA were united in their condemnation of how a section of England's travelling support repeatedly chanted 'F*** the IRA' ( a sentiment which any democracy-loving Ireland fan should heartily agree with, by the way) during their friendly in Glasgow.

This, by the way, occurred on the very same night that Delaney was bewailing the self-inflicted fate of Joe McDonnell in a boozer on Bath Avenue. Honestly, you couldn't make that bit up.

In the greater scheme of things this is nothing more than a light diversion.

Delaney has been a bit of a buffoon and that's really the end of it.

The FAI weighing in with lawyers informing media outlets here and abroad to take down material and, hilariously, insisting that it wasn't actually their client on the recording (which he's happily admitted since), merely added to the general air of merry mayhem which surrounds the Republic of Ireland set-up these days.

nonsense

The simple fact remains that there's always a semblance of 'Up the 'Ra' nonsense whenever football fans of a certain stripe get together.

Perhaps you could put it down to the pro-Celtic, bodhran-beating brotherhood but by and large it keeps itself to itself and doesn't bother the more civilised people who love the game.

In fact, life would be a whole lot duller if you couldn't annoy opposing fans at matches. Ask anyone who's travelled to Turner's Cross if they don't feel better about lashing out a few choruses of the 'Roy Keane is a traitor' ditty, while no visit to the Brandywell is complete without an airing of: 'You're Brits and you know you are' or 'What's it like to serve the Queen?'. Fabulous fun.

Nothing to see. No one dead. Next.

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