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Things in sport we don't miss during Covid crisis

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SAY CHEESE: Katie Taylor is greeted by Minister for Sport Shane Ross (l) at Dublin Airport last last June. Photo: Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

SAY CHEESE: Katie Taylor is greeted by Minister for Sport Shane Ross (l) at Dublin Airport last last June. Photo: Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

SPORTSFILE

SAY CHEESE: Katie Taylor is greeted by Minister for Sport Shane Ross (l) at Dublin Airport last last June. Photo: Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

Covid-19 has so pitilessly shut out the sunshine, a microscopic highwayman ransacking every last satchel of hope, that any notions this holding-cell purgatory might have yielded a sporting upside seem absurd.

Even for those of us so far mercifully blessed with robust health, life is reduced to a parade of pilfered tomorrows and stolen joys.

And yet, the drill-bit of the imagination is not required to probe too deeply to strike some lockdown oil.

Here, with tongue slightly in cheek, are tiny specks of light sneaking through an otherwise terrible, enduring eclipse.

The lost landmarks of sporting life to which I am inclined to say good riddance.

 

1. SHANE ROSS

It is a small mercy that the Minister for Photobombing has yet to devise the technological capacity to invade the grainy TV shots of old All-Irelands or soccer internationals.

In his shameless, publicity-ravenous imaginings, the Minister for Gatecrashings is surely excitedly Zooming himself onto Ray Houghton's shoulder in Stuttgart or handing Stephen Cluxton the water bottle before the Dublin keeper's free that broke Kerry in 2011.

You'd kind of wonder how our Minister for Mangling Sporting Heroes' Names might mispronounce all those legends of yesteryear.

If Ross had been around in 1982, might we be treated to a press release celebrating Offaly's Say Mass Dolby on his iconic All-Ireland-winning goal?

Had he made it to Genoa eight years later, Pokie Binner's penalty save would surely have merited a lengthy, self-serving eulogy from the Minister for Glory Squatting.

 

2. IRELAND'S CALL

Given a stark choice between surgeon-general Donald Trump's medical advice or one more verse of this sonic Domestos, most of us would happily choose to mainline Dettol.

Tuneless torture, it might have been specially commissioned by the CIA as an aural nerve agent to strip away Guantanamo Bay detainees' last thread of sanity.

A toothache put to music; as melodic as the agonised screeches of labour pain; a lyrical jockstrap; every self-flagellating masochist's shrill hymn of choice.

France go to war behind the rousing La Marseillaise, Wales are stirred by the gorgeous, spine-tingling Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau, Ireland march into combat behind the B-side of Agadoo or Mr Blobby's 1993 Christmas Number One.

One upside to a world of social distancing is that "shoulder to shoulder" becomes an outdated concept.

No Six Nations for a decade would represent the smallest tariff for the continued cocooning of the musical equivalent of a 60-point thumping by England.

 

3. CONOR MCGREGOR

Speaking of noise pollution, anybody notice how much quieter it is outside now that the new world order has effectively muted Floyd Mayweather's plaything?

In the absence of the megalomaniac whiskey salesman's ghetto-blaster self-promotion, birdsong is audible, the murmur of bees offers a serene new soundtrack to the days.

Even before the coronavirus annihilated the everyday, there was a sense of a bubble bursting.

Too much showboating, an excess of casual racism, throwaway misogyny and deluded self-importance.

When McGregor, apparently confusing himself with the ghost of JFK, chose to solemnly address the nation via social media at the onset of the crisis, his bankruptcy of self-awareness prompted both hysteric giggling and the posing of an essential question.

The one that asked whether David Brent or Alan Partridge had been hired as the Dubliner's scriptwriter.

 

4. MONTY IN SKY STUDIO

Colin Montgomerie is the reason why television mute buttons exist.

Maybe he has an IQ on the Einstein scale, but, sadly, it is married to the emotional intelligence of an anteater.

It is bad enough that Sky surrender to the egregiously pompous Augusta mood music - the one where fans must be called patrons and every commentator prostates him/herself to kiss the ample southern ass of green-jacketed officialdom.

But, then there is Monty and that look that could kill an azalea from 300 yards.

Power City or Harvey Norman really ought to put him on a retainer, because it is the ultimate challenge to stop short of putting a four-iron through the 50-inch high-res TV each time he opens his vowel-mangling orifice.

It is not merely his enormously irritating habit of saying everything twice, saying everything twice.

Or even the perpetual warthog grimace, "a bulldog licking its piss off a nettle" as David Feherty immortally and lyrically described the Scot's default facial setting.

It is his maddening, unceasing calling-card of converting every moment of riveting Tiger or Rory drama into a story of how he, Monty, in sport's man-on-the-moon moment, captained Europe to win the 2010 Ryder Cup.

Shane Ross and himself would get on well.

 

5. MADDENING SPORTING PHRASES

Soccer internationals succumbing to the verbal plague of referring to their manager by the Anglicised "gaffer" is a bugbear of this grumpy old man.

Social media posts announcing that "there won't be a cow milked in (fill in the location as appropriate) tonight."

If Marty Morrissey's spontaneous and original soundbite resonated when Clare shocked Kerry in 1992, the billions of cover versions have thieved it of any originality. Stop.

But it is rugby which is by far the worst offender. "Go-forward ball", "the hind-most foot", "going through the phases", "fronting-up", the absurdly superfluous "lots of GREEN grass in behind" (as opposed, we assume, to the pink variety with yellow stripes and little blue stitchings).

And there is surely a seat on the hottest coals of hell reserved for Irish commentators who, indulging their inner Antipodean, feel compelled to use the New Zealand term "sheds" when referring to the place where teams go at half-time.

What on earth is wrong with "dressing-rooms"?

 

6. STADIUM ANNOUNCERS WHO HAVE HAD TOO MUCH SUGAR

You know the kind.

"C'MON, IRELAND, OUT OF YOUR SEATS…JOIN THE PARTY…SCREAM OUT LOUD…WE ARE HAVING THE TIME OF OUR LIVES…I'M A F***ING MORON."

Okay, I made the last bit up, even if it accurately describes these killers of organic joy, a tribe that insists on the peddling of vacuous inanity and all at, volume perpetually cranked up to Ozzy Osbourne ear-drum bursting intensity.

Everything for this strange breed of on-day-release-from-naff-breakfast-show-radio is a super-excitable, hyperventilating AC/DC guitar solo.

"WOW, THERE'S BOD TAKING HIS SEAT ON THE GIANT SCREEN…ARE YOU FEELING DIZZY…LET'S ROCK THE AVIVA FOR IRELAND."