Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 29 July 2014

Billy on the Box: Donegal faster, higher and stronger than Mo Farah

Mo Farah may now move to Moville

The worlds of gaelic football and athletics are unusual bedfellows, especially when the former creeps up, pulls back the sheets, jumps in without being asked and then hogs the duvet without a by-your-leave.

That’s what happened on Sunday afternoon though as fans of athletics, still in cold turkey after the Olympics, were back on track with the Birmingham Grand Prix. Or loosely translated — Mo Farah’s running so silly celebration at the ready.

He was to an extent but in a made-up race — the two miles. John Inverdale, who bizarrely opened the day’s proceedings being ferried up the track on a wee buggy, explained that he would be attempting to break Steve Ovett’s world record.

This was interesting for two reasons. One, it was set in 1978 and meant we got a clip of the wonderful David Coleman commentating on it and two, it meant we got to see Ovett who was as visible as a G4S security operative during the Olympics.

I know he and Seb Coe didn’t see eye to eye back in the day but why is there a nasty image at the back of my mind that Ovett is being held captive in a lock-up garage in Stratford?

I’m not saying it’s not an important record but Ovett beat Brendan Foster’s previous benchmark and before that I think it was Jeff Heracles in 776BC — Before Coe.

One man who was back though was Greg Rutherford.

You know, Greg Rutherford? Wee ginger chap, won the gold medal for jumping? Never mind

“Mo and Jess barely need surnames but Greg still needs his Rutherford,” said Inverdale — a mantra previously adopted by Phil Collins in his Genesis years — “one giant leap for Milton Keynes made him a gold medallist on that night to remember.”

And then we were shown a clip of Greg being greeted warmly at Old Trafford by confused Man Utd fans wondering if this was a showy relative of Paul Scholes, only to be upstaged — again — by Usain Bolt, a United fan, from the Salford suburb of Jamaica.

So as we waited for Mo and the big made-up race, we settled down to watch Americans and Africans and eastern Europeans — basically anyone not British — win, but we were rudely interrupted by a wee sign at the bottom of the screen saying ‘press red button for continuing coverage’.

In the blink of an eye, Inverdale was replaced by Austin O’Callaghan and Denise Lewis, Colin Jackson and Brendan Foster became Jarlath Burns, Mickey Harte and Paddy Bradley and Birmingham became Dublin.

All three experts confidently predicted impending doom for Donegal in the All-Ireland football semi at Croke Park, but they should have known that the Rebels were going to be washed up.

Burns explained that their “plans have been slightly disrupted by the Tall Ships,” destined to be included in the Big Boys’ Book of Lame Excuses in future years, and in the first-half they were holed but hadn’t sank without trace.

Clearly red-faced that the red button was now hiding the athletics, Burns tried to make amends. “If that was a 5000 metres they’d be saying there’d be a possible record,” he said, clearly forgetting that two miles is 3218.7 metres. But Maths isn’t his subject, so we’ll let him off.

The maths of the second-half was much more simple — Donegal scored more than Cork and duly booked a place in the final which is good news for Ulster fans in one way but also means we have to endure another Mark Sidebottom commentary.

“The picture that paints a thousand words, his hand in his heads in frustration,” he said of Conor Counihan, proving once again that two heads are not necessarily better than one, while on the sidelines the one-man windmill that is Thomas Kane (watch his left hand the next time he’s on) manfully tried to keep Martin McHugh from celebrating.

The visions of McHugh doing the Mobot, or the Movillebot, would have been too much and for the record, Mo Farah won and some wee ginger fella was third in the jumping.

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