shush, don’t tell anyone right, but I’m ripping off an entire article. Hopefully there won’t be a war and a self imposed exile on this occasion. But Mary Hannigan’s article in today’s Irish Times deserves to be shared:
TV View: Lord, it’s so hard to be humble when you’re perfect in almost every sporting way.
Nevertheless, it is important that we try to remain self-effacing at a time like this, to resist gloating, to resist pointing out that we are the master sporting race, or, at the very least, the home of three of this planet’s finest hurdlers: Derval O’Rourke, War of Attrition and Shane Horgan. Never, surely, have eight legs delivered so much gold.
We should, too, rise above the temptation of getting in touch with that section of the BBC rugby team known as Jeremy Guscott and Brian Moore and going “na, na, na, na, na”. We’re bigger than that, although if any of you have their phone numbers please pass them on.
And we should, if at all possible, be unassuming about the fact that Ireland have also taken the crown for being the subject of the most breathtaking television utterance of all time, the television match official’s instruction on Saturday that: “You. May. A. Ward. The. Try.”
Hopefully, Neil Armstrong won’t begrudge us, but “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind” held the title for long enough.
“How’s your heart,” Ryle Nugent asked us as the telly “no rush” ref sat down with his popcorn, Maltesers and supersize Coke to watch a replay of Horgan’s try.
“The hearts are grand, Ryle, they’re cosily snuggled up in our mouths,” we replied.
You know the way in a desperate moment of crisis (eg, impending plane crash) you look around to see if everyone else is remaining calm, and if they are you’re reassured?
It was a bit like that waiting for the telly ref to make his decision. We couldn’t help but think of Dewi Morris on Sky Sports recently, when he uttered the immortal line: “People are looking around like headless chickens.”
To our left: “Definite try.”
To our right: “Hmm, not sure.”
Doctors differed, then, while our patience died. Our patience with the telly ref, that is. Finally.
Telly ref: “I have a decision for you.”
Ref: “Okay, give it to me.”
Telly ref: “You. May. A. Ward. The. Try.”
Ref: “Just clarify? I can award the try?”
Telly ref: “You. May. A. Ward. The. Try.”
Ryle calmly confirmed what we thought we’d heard: “TRY GIVEN! TRY GIVEEEEEEEEEEEN!”
And that, more or less, was that: Triple Crown.
If you can remember that far back, it hadn’t begun too brightly. “A good start is vital,” Conor O’Shea had told us.
“Ireland have to start this game positively,” said Brent Pope.
And with that Jamie Noon scored a try for England.
The RTÃ‰ panel got out their pens and starting scribbling down a Plan B.
Plan B kicked into action when Horgan got the first of his tries . . . which led us to, um, recall George Hook’s pre-match declaration that he didn’t care how Ireland won, just so long as they did, “by fair means or foul”.
There was just time at the break for the BBC’s Craig Doyle to have a quick chat with Thomas Castaignede outside the French dressingroom in Cardiff.
“You know, we suppourt Englande, wheech is quite strawnge,” he said, while the cameraman busily redirected his equipment to remove a naked French player from view.
Second half. When Andy Goode put over that penalty to make it 24-21 for England, well, sure, same old story?
Na, a bit like the French player in the Cardiff dressingroom, Ireland’s crown jewels were on display: Fire in the belly, and all that.
George Hook was ecstatic.
“Well, at the beginning of this campaign I asked if Eddie O’Sullivan was a lucky coach, and today he was very lucky, the team rode its luck, they got every break going for them.”
Well, okay, not ecstatic exactly, honest perhaps, but a touch grouchy.
A quite fantabulous sporting week, then. And add to the “golds” Nina Carberry’s supernatural recovery at Cheltenham when Harbour Pilot attempted to unseat her.
“There are very few people on the planet who would have stayed on there, but the Carberry family, well, they come out of the womb on ponies,” said Jim McGrath, as if child birth wasn’t tricky enough.
And, on Saturday night, world indoor champion Derval O’Rourke turned up on Tubridy, the day after leading the St Patrick’s Day parade in Cork.
“I heard one woman say, ‘who’s yer one in the car’?” she said. “And the woman beside her replied, ‘that’s yer one with the medal’.”
War of Attrition and Shane Horgan have it all in front of them, sporting celebrity, Irish style.