I moved to ITV rather than RTE for this weekend’s ‘get up with Ireland’ routine and was hoping that we would find a rather more neutral panel than 24 hours earlier.
So it was a warm welcome by Stefano Rider, Michele Lynagh and Lawrence Dallaglio, with Girvan Dempsey flying the flag for the boys in green.
That’s not fair, Steve was unbiased, but the Aussie had Italian connections, which sounded ominous, and Dallaglio, well, he didn’t know what he was.
“My father’s Italian, my mother’s Irish, so I’ve a foot in both camps, so that makes me a very dangerous Englishman,” he said confusingly, before promising it would be a ‘mouth-watering prospect’, although that may have been the pizzas ordered in.
It was all being built up into a clash of epic proportions, Dallaglio telling us the Italians ‘enjoy the battle’, not strictly true, while Dempsey said, ‘Ireland would have too much in their armoury’ and ‘experience was Ireland’s outstanding weapon’.
It was a bit unfair of the organisers to pick a less than neutral venue, the O’Tago Stadium, but there was a great noise, with the dumdidee dumdidum Italian anthem always a winner, and sung with gusto by those proud patriots, McLean, Derbyshire, Geldenhys and Van Zyl.
Nick Mullins later told us that bearded beast Castrogiovanni (not pictured) was unwisely ‘snorting fire’ but it was Ireland who were sucking diesel after an edgy first-half.
Alan Quinlan praised the ‘two-hooded assassins — Heaslip and Ferris and O’Brien’, proving once again that there is absolutely no long-term effects of playing in the scrum, but now it’s Wales, with ITV bringing in Ruth Madoc and Tom Jones in to make sure things are |balanced.