This blog first appeared as a TV Review in the Andersonstown News
Were you watching Mayo v Dublin Gaelic Football All-Ireland semi-final?
Or maybe ‘Where were you watching’, rather than ‘Were you watching’ – both RTÉ TWO and Sky Sports carried the game live last Sunday. Nice, that the national broadcaster should for once allow us to view a national game, rather than bow down to the diktat of Sky.
That said, Sky’s presentation of the game was miles ahead of RTÉ. Kieran Donaghy (late centre-forward for Kerry, in a sky-blue check jacket); Jim McGuinness (late manager of Donegal, hair well-oiled and sculpted; and Peter Canavan (late forward of Tyrone, with no hair to speak of and an undistinguished jacket) – these were Sky’s interpreters of the game. A Joe Brolly-less RTÉ was lacklustre, with Colum O’Rourke (totally decent and totally dull) looking and sounding as if he’d just woken up. Chairing the discussion on Sky was Grainne and on RTÉ was Joanne. Or maybe it was the other way round.
But hey, what a game we got! For the past six years I have admired the strength and speed and skill of the Dublin football team, and have frequently shouted my approval at the TV when they played. Alas, my present wife is a Mayo woman, so with an effort I had to put myself on semi-mute last Sunday.
In the first half, as the commentator said, Dublin kept sucking the life out of the game with their passing, usually ending each sequence with a killer score. Mayo trudged wearily after them, trying to get a kick of the ball. And when they did, they kept losing it again or kicking dead-snip frees wide. And then there was the grudge feeling circulating like a virus between the two counties: “These two teams” as the commentator put it, “are not exactly admirers of each other’s work”.
At half-time Dublin was six points ahead and coasting. Who knows how many cups of tea were thrown or how many mesmerists were employed in the Mayo dressing-room at half-time, but the team emerged like men transformed.
Actually both teams were transformed – Mayo in a good way and Dublin in a bad way. Dublin’s lead was chopped and chopped again, a last-minute Mayo free kick going over the bar from a huge distance. Extra time! Jim McGuinness (yes, Virginia, he of the sculpted hair) said Dublin would have to not just win but win by three or four points, if they were to even think of making it 7-times-in-a-row champions.
You sort-of got it, Jim. Mayo were the ones who finished up three or was it four points in front. Cue a wave of orgasmic joy among the Mayo fans at Croker, and in homes from Kiltimagh to Westport.
Do they do player drug tests before and after GAA games? They should, and maybe at half-time as well. Because something at half-time sucked the life out of Dublin and mainlined it into a transformed, mesmerising Mayo.
OK, after me now: “Oh the green and red of Mayo/ I can see it still”…