Ha ha haha haaaaaa! Pardon me while I split some sides. I’ve been listening to BBC Radio Ulster/Raidio Uladh and I’ve just had the best two laughs I’ve had in weeks.
The first was from, I think, sports reporter Stephen Watson, and I think – pardon me Stephen if I’m wrong – but I think he was saying that the southern media didn’t report on players this side of the border who were competing in the colours of Team GB. ‘Strewth! He’s probably right. But has he thought about the fact that Radio Ulster/Raidio Uladh and BBC Northern Ireland reported on Irish players only if they’re from this side of the border? What’s more, when they do report on athletes north of the border, they sorta gliiiide past the fact that these athletes are competing in the colours of Ireland. A passing Martian might be forgiven for thinking there was a Team NI competing in the Paralympic Games and that they were being very successful. Mind you, that doesn’t excuse RTÉ if what Watson says is true; but it’s still a hilarious case of the pot getting all hot and bothered about the kettle’s blackness.
The other laugh I had? Again, step forward Stephen Watson, although you were merely repeating the words of Pádraig Harrington (who I remember years ago on BBC Radio 4 being described as a ‘crazy guy with a crazy name’). Stephen was coping this time with what is pretty obviously Rory McIlroy’s intention to move from Team Ireland to Team GB for the Rio Olympics four years down the line, because Rory says “he has always felt more British than Irish”. Fair enough – it’s his choice not to answer Ireland’s Call. (Sorry, I had to get that one in. And btw, wasn’t it kind of awful watching Phil Coulter at that celebration for John Hume, urging the audience to join him in singing his absurd replacement for the Irish national anthem?) Where was I? Oh yes. Stephen Watson was quoting approvingly Padraig Harrington’s interpretation of Rory’s switch of allegiances: it was actually great, apparently, because it meant there was another place for someone from Ireland to compete in the Rio Olympics. So from being a cheers-lads-I’m-with-the-Brits thing, it became a it’s-a-far-far-better-thing-I-do-now thing. Which meant that those Irish people who might feel pissed off with Rory’s switch of allegiance were misreading the situation, cos Rory was actually leaving the Irish golf team for the good of Team Ireland. Oh God, stop, would you, Stephen, I think I’m finding it hard to breathe. Who said sport and laughing your arse off don’t mix? Jimmy Magee?