A five-goal cup final thriller and we’re still a miserable bunch

Who would want to be a sportsman or woman in this wretched place?


All that chat over the weekend about Lansdowne being packed to the rafters from here on in, even if we’re playing the Dog and Duck reserves, due to the box-office-possibly- imminent-appointment of yer man and himself?

You know, if you could promise games like yesterday’s cup final at the very same venue, you could appoint AN Other and his milkman’s brother-in-law and the place would be heaving. Just the 10 goals in the two epically terrific games, Ger Canning and George Hamilton, the respective commentators for the women’s and lads’ finals, thinking it was all over on more than one occasion, only to discover it wasn’t.

“We thought it was all over, two or three times,” said Tony McDonnell, maintaining the Wolstenholme-ish theme on the RTÉ panel, after the Sligo Rovers v Drogheda encounter that was more than a little breathless.

After that controversial Danny North goal for Sligo – No-Whistle-Gate – George began to lament about the game being decided by a possibly erroneous refereeing decision, “it’s very sad that this could end . . . we’ve got an equaliiiiiiiiser!!”

And so it went. Every time you thought it was done and dusted, you needed to get out your Mr Sheen again.

By then Raheny United had beaten Castlebar Celtic, although with Stephanie Roche on the panel, her being the scorer of a goal now almost as legendary as Diegos’s 1986 effort (the one with the foot, not the hand), it was a hard act to live up to.

But they came close enough, Raheny’s Ciara Grant’s onion-bag buster a bit tasty, not least because, as Sue Ronan informed us, her left foot – which had inserted the ball in the net – wouldn’t be her best. If she’d used her right, then, Diego’s effort would have looked like a yawny tap-in.

The Gods were in a miserable mood, though, when they ordained that the winner be an own goal, one that decided a pretty darn fabulous final in a pretty darn almost empty stadium. “The elephant in the room is the pathetic crowd,” Pat Dolan said after the lads had completed their business, the empty seats putting a sizeable dampener on his mood, despite a final like few others.

It brought to mind DJ Carey once saying there was nothing more wonderful than playing in a packed Croke Park, and nothing more demoralising than playing there when it was half empty. Speaking of DJ. His Late Late appearance? You know, we’re a wretched bunch, when you see one of our most sublime sportsmen subjected to a career-full of snooping about his private and business life, the bulk of the snoopers taking delight in the difficulties he has endured.

You can only hope the toe-rags get a life some day, instead of trying to keep themselves alive by feasting on others’ woes.

Sad enough, too, was Katie Taylor’s appearance on RTÉ’s Saturday Night Show. Women’s boxing? Despite 2012 and all the wonders contained therein, bugger all progress.

“The European Union Championships a few months ago, maybe only 30 or 40 people there, in a little tent, they’re just bad conditions we box in, there’s no air conditioning or anything in the venue and it can be quite frustrating at times,” she said.

“We were promised a world series, nothing has happened about it. It’s been frustrating . . . they should really have pushed on from last year, it was such an amazing year for women’s boxing.”

But she still resists turning professional, her eyes only on Rio.

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