TV REVIEW: RTÉ Sports Awards 2021

This TV review first appeared in the Andersonstown News

RTÉ Sport Awards 2021 (RTÉ ONE) was fronted by Joanne Cantwell and Darragh Maloney.  Joanne looked very big-occasion in her strapless frock, while Darragh settled for Tyrone colours – white shirt, red tie and matching hanky peeking from his breast pocket.

Fronting a programme that consists of sporting clips and stilted interviews with sports people is probably hard work for the presenters, but not half as hard as watching it.

Darragh promised we’d be looking back at a sports year like never before,  and Joanne said that  new ground was broken by our sportsmen and sportswomen in what could have been a dark year for many. They then showed clips of men and women hurling, diving, kicking, sprinting, with some driving pop music to give it lift.

The first featured guest was jockey Rachel Blackmore. A woman told us that Rachel was without doubt the best female jockey Ireland has produced. More than that – she has ‘transcended the sport in a wider world’. Words to describe Rachel? ‘Driven’ ‘Incredible’ ‘Ruthless’.  Rachel wore a pair of red trousers and an off-one-shoulder black top. “The elation when you cross the line – it’s hard to describe”.  Tactics? “I just feel very lucky to be where I am today.”

But what about the All-Ireland football  champions Tyrone? “They were greater than the sum of their parts. They were relentless.” Team star Kieran McGeary was interviewed and asked how he’d come up with a statement like “They said we wouldn’t do it, we couldn’t do it- but we did it.” Kieran looked modest and said he didn’t know. “The massive defeat” they suffered in Killarney spurred them on “to do something this year.”  And Tyrone’s team managers Feargal Logan and Brian Dooher? Very professional: “Why wait for success when you can do it now? ”

There was a section on rugby, a section on Meath’s All-Ireland-title-winning GAA Women footballers. Gavin Bazuna was awarded  the RTÉ Sport Young Sportsperson of the Year, and Rachel Blackmore became Sportsperson of the Year.

‘it’s flown, hasn’t it?”  said Darragh at the end. Not for me it didn’t, Darragh.  The interviews produced clichés by the lorry-load, sportsmen and women stood around stiff with embarrassment, as well they might. Comparing people in different sports to one another is absurd. This jockey is better than that football team? Gimme a break. And don’t say the BBC does it too – the Beeb has its own share of buck eejits.  

My modest proposal?  RTÉ should pass the American military a copy of RTÉ Sport Awards 2021; they could play this to their orange-suited detainees and forget  waterboarding. An hour of RTÉ Sport Awards 2021 and your prisoner  will confess to anything, ANYTHING,  just so it stops. 

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