Belfast Telegraph

Bad for Armagh, good for Argentina

By Billy Weir

If it's subliminal messages you want as a guide to the eventual winners of the Sam Maguire this summer, then get to the bookies straight away and back Dublin.


Both the studios of BBC's The Championship and the Sunday Game on RTE burst onto our screens with a dimly-lit blue the predominant hue on show. Imagine a Smurf lap-dancing bar and you'll get the general idea.

I started off with the Beeb, and being the first day back at school, Austin O'Callaghan had been sent out looking lovely, in a snazzy three-piece effort, and perched on another three-piece were Martin McHugh, Paddy Bradley and new signing Owen Mulligan.

“If Diego Maradona had been a gaelic footballer, well who knows he may have well looked a little like this,” Austin told us as a bemused and groomed Mugsy wondered if a move to Argentina was out of the question.

We were there for the preliminary round Ulster Championship clash between Cavan and Armagh which, Austin told us, would be ‘live and uninterrupted', well, apart from Mark Sidebottom's commentary.

Putting the delightfully polished brogue in, he then reminded Owen that he was surplus to requirements.

“Well, there's been a lot of retirements this week but no I'm not retiring at the minute, but if it was my choice I wouldn't be sitting on this sofa today,” he replied, as a man from Buenos Aries Harps got on the phone.

All three experts plumped for Armagh, as, rather less surprisingly, did co-commentator Oisin McConville, but he was probably more confused by his mate on the mic telling us ‘by the way don't be texting us on 81171, we don't text anymore.’

So why tell us then? I did and spoke to someone called Diego.

It was the usual fayre from the Beeb from then on, commentary at 100mph, most of it garbled and stating the bleeding obvious, the pointless half-time insistence on reading out Tweets when you have three experts who are supposed to be there to give their views, and Thomas Kane and his magical windmill of a left arm interviewing on the sidelines.

If it was all new clothes and new faces in Belfast; down in Dublin, it was like trailing out a battered pair of slippers and that jumper with the holes in it, as Michael Lyster opened proceedings on The Sunday Game.

It was a ‘double header', but I thought that was a tad harsh on Pat Spillane and Joe Brolly, although it turns out that there were two games, so plenty of time for angst, anger and a gnashing of teeth.

“I'm starting with a blank page, my glass is half full, I'm going to be positive, my mantra, as the man says, is don't worry, be happy,” said Spillane. If anyone knows the whereabouts of the real Pat Spillane could they contact the authorities immediately? The same could be said of Jamie Clarke, who also went missing, but having been described by Spillane as the ‘Messi of Ulster football’ he was probably on his way with Mugsy to take on Cordoba Cuchullians.

Colm O'Rourke was the rose between the two prickliest of thorns, but for once it was Brolly who was the moody one in the blue.

“It's just a complete mess, the manager doesn't have a clue what he's doing,” he said as it was Grimley up north for Armagh at the break.

His mood didn't improve, talking about ‘vast open prairies’, home of the Pampas Pearses, that Cavan were strolling around in, and concluded that ‘Armagh were totally clueless’.

His mood didn't improve afterwards, when he hinted: “The Armagh County chairman should get one of those bat signals into the air now for the McEntee twins,” but it's too late, Joe, last seen they were bound for Rosario Rangers.

Belfast Telegraph Digital


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