This TV review first appeared in The Andersonstown News
I’d have put money on Kerry winning last Saturday’s All-Ireland Football semi-final (RTÉ TWO), only for two restraining features: the bookies were giving odds of 1-7 on a Kerry triumph, and I’m a Tyrone man.
So it was with some nervousness I settled in front of my TV at the weekend. This is going to be painful, I thought. Like Muhammed Ali taking on Jeffrey Donaldson– too painful for civilized eyes.
And that’s how it started, with Kerry scoring two points within seconds of the throw-in. I wondered briefly if I could sneak off to another room and put my head under a duvet. But what’s this? Tyrone have scored. And scored again…my God, they’re a point up! “It’s the hope that kills you” I kept telling myself; but then with the last kick of the first half, Tyrone goalkeeper Niall Morgan stepped up and calmly planted a free kick between the posts from a full 70 yards. O joy, O bliss, who could have foretold this?
In Pundit-land at half-time, Pat Spillane, looking like a swollen pink frog, conceded that “Tie-rone” had been the better team thus far. He’d been praying to St Jude, he admitted through clenched teeth, that Kerry would stop playing hopelessly stupid football.
The second half swung one way, then the other. Two black cards for Tyrone (was St Jude listening to Spillane?) and at full-time the teams are level. Extra time. And would you look at this! Tyrone have scored another goal and are five points ahead! Maybe St Jude is hard of hearing and thought Spillane was asking for a Tie-rone win?
Then the God of TV reception intervened and my screen went blank. Twelve minutes of extra time to go, Tyrone’s ahead and my TV screen’s gone blank, save for a notice telling me this programme is not available in my area. WHAA-AT?? Sweating, mouthing bad words as I fiddle with the remote control, did someone during the week tell me the game was also on Sky Arena, omigod, where is Sky Arena, come out, come out, come to our aid, St Jude…
It wasn’t to be. The fates and Sky had decided that I was not to see the knuckle-biting finish of this glorious occasion. But sometimes the pictures in your head are better than those on the screen. Tie-rone won, they won, who cares if it was puke football or pure football, Tyrone are in the all-Ireland final.
As I may have mentioned, my present wife is a Mayo-woman. Already our home is thick with tension. Come the All-Ireland Final, Saturday 11 September, Tie-rone and Mayo could be gouging and swearing and delivering vicious elbow-smashes. And it’ll probably be lively on the field of play at Croke Park too.