Belfast Telegraph

Billy on the Box: All is rather noisy on Western front

By Billy Weir

There are many things quintessentially Irish - drinking too much, fighting, sporadic outbreaks of melancholic singing, emigration, mythology, more fighting, middle-aged women who should know better waffling on about wagon wheels, the list is lengthy.

The All-Ireland final is another one, but even it pales in its Irishness to RTE's Sunday Game Live, which is more green than Kermit the Frog spread-eagled on a snooker table covered in cabbages.

Of course, a wee mention of religion doesn't go amiss either and all the bases, well, minus our amphibious chum and his vegetable cohorts on the green baize, were covered by presenter Michael Lyster.

"On this day, it is the culmination of a journey that has been taken from the four corners of Ireland down the ages," he began, but thankfully kept religion out of it.

"Once again the people of Mayo have made the journey east in search of the Holy Grail," he added, ticking the religion box before one of the three not half wise men in the studio, Kerry great Pat Spillane, broke ranks and mentioned foreign sports, but only in the hope that it would mean defeat for Dublin.

"Leicester were 5,000-1 to win the Premier League, Connacht won the PRO12 and in 1982 we were going for a fifth in a row, seemingly unbeatable and Offaly beat us, so a shock is possible, you can dare to dream," he proffered.

The Irish are dreamers, to be sure, but they love knocking the bejaysus out of each other too, and Derryman Joe Brolly, no stranger to a bit of verbal velocity, stoked things up a notch.

"If they stand up and they bring war, then they can do it," he roared, but having been a regular visitor to Mayo, war is not what they do best. I will admit bias here, my favourite pub (The Helm, Westport), restaurant (The Lodge at Ashford, Cong), film (The Quiet Man, Cong), mountain, technically a Marilyn, (Croagh Patrick), salad dressing (Mayo) all hail from my favourite part of Ireland.

Animal cruelty is not on that list, with the exception of St Patrick allegedly banishing the snakes from the aforementioned promontory, but the third of our wise men, Colm O'Rourke, had no such qualms.

"There's different ways to skin a cat, you can do it in a ruthless, methodical fashion, or you can do it with flair or with a combination of both," he said, before turning the emotion right up to 11.

"It's a sense of self-respect, of self-confidence that people have in themselves and in a county, an All-Ireland would do more for the self-confidence of Mayo as a county in a sporting sense, an economic sense and a personal sense than anything else that anybody can do," he hinted. Not much to play for then…

"It's like war," repeated G.I. Joe (that's Gaelic Insurgent). "I would imagine it's like a soldier in the Saracen being told they're ready to rumble into the Bogside."

And finally the players ran on to the sacred turf for the final.

"At least, lads, when they did run out together, they came out calmly unlike the camogie final last week when they started pushing and shoving each other," chortled Lyster.

"Jeez, you couldn't watch the women, they're terribly violent, you know," said W.I. Joe (that's Women's Irritant), before reverting to type and yelling "it's war, war, they're only inches way" in a final clarion call to the men from the west.

A bizarre first half ensued, Mayo shooting themselves not once, but twice in the feet to give Dublin two own goals, prompting Brolly to talk of curses and "players going in thinking they're in some sort of Twilight Zone".

"This is spooky what is happening, there are clearly supernatural forces at work," he added, and if that wasn't a wild enough accusation, more wild west capers were only round the corner from co-commentator Martin Carney with his views on one of Mayo's finest.

"Colm Boyle is one of those guys who carries more heart than a tribe of Apache Indians," he said and before anyone could make a joke about Tom O'Hawk being an immigrant, somehow it all ended up in a draw meaning we have to go through it all again.

It was too much for C.S.I. Joe (that's Clearly Seething Inside) who was wild at the men from the west.

"Go out and do the job and then we'll all be able to relax and get on with our lives once Mayo win an All-Ireland, please God they win an All-Ireland," he said.

As Father Dougal would have said, 'Eamon to that'.

Belfast Telegraph

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