Even Hamilton moved as Britton puts us on top of the European pile . . . for once


TV VIEW:As December Sunday afternoon scenes go, that was a rather delightful one

A slow-motion replay of Fionnuala Britton crossing the line over a fluttering tricolour with Amhrán na bhFiann blasting in the background? As December Sunday afternoon scenes go, that was a rather delightful one. But sure, she’s beginning to makea habit of it.

A highly beautiful day, then, one that left George Hamilton more than a little moved – as Jerry Kiernan spotted. “I noticed a catch in George’s voice there, and George is normally a very unemotional individual,” he said after our commentator handed back to the studio following the medal ceremony.

Jerry’s normally a bit unemotional himself when he’s on panel duty, like when Peter Collins asked where did this rank among the great Irish runs of our time?

“It doesn’t put her ahead of John Treacy or Eamonn Coghlan or Sonia O’Sullivan or Catherina McKiernan – but after that, she’s right up there,” he replied.

He did, though, doff his cap to Britton’s “incredible”, “extraordinary” performance.

And on that note, “hats off,” Kathryn Davis, George’s colleague in the commentary box, had said when gold was struck, not sensible advice on the Arctic day that was in it.

Kathryn had earlier pointed to the “scantily clad” Dulce Felix, the runner-up, and, indeed, how the woman didn’t end up with hypothermia we’ll never know.

Anyway, we were hardly back in the warmth of the studio when we were returning to brassers Budapest – as George put it: “Here’s the anthem again!”

We were, by now, dripping in gold, the team triumphing too. “Ireland is the top nation in Europe,” Peter declared, and you don’t often hear that said this weather.

“It was more or less a perfect day,” Fionnuala told George, but it wasn’t quite so perfect for the men, the conditions hardly assisting Joe Sweeney's efforts to match – or better – last year’s fifth place finish. “He was like Bambi on ice out there,” said Jerry, “slipping and sliding”.

But, considering, as Jerry told us, Joe is “six foot five”, it was mission impossible for the fella, which takes us seamlessly to Manchester where Tom Cruise was interviewed by Geoff Shreeves for Sky Sports before the derby. And Robert Duvall too.

Robert proclaimed himself to be a very, very big soccer fan, revealing that he named a dog after Celtic legend Jimmy Johnstone, but when he asked Geoff “will there be a shoot-out today if there’s a tie?”, Geoff could only reply: “Um.”

And American soccer has some work to do before it captures Robert’s heart.

Geoff: “You’re big pals with David Beckham – what has he told you to look out for in the Manchester derby?”

Tom: “He wishes he was here!”

Robert: “Where is he?”

Tom: “He’s in LA.”

Robert: “Oh.”

Tom: “They won the championship, Galaxy, their second championship in a row.”

Robert: *Shrugs*

With 15 minutes to go in the game, and things really quite exciting, the camera picked out Tom on his phone in his VIP box behind the seats. And with his back to the action, like. And there was divil a sign of Robert.

If the pair had paid attention, they’d have witnessed a lively old affair, one that climaxed with that Robin van Persie winner (or “Van Pursestrings” as those Arsenalites dub him) and the City faithful generously sharing the club’s riches by showering United with coins.

If Tom had been watching, he might have thought it was a quaint British soccer tradition, or in Robert’s case, being a Mitt Romney supporter, he’d possibly have assumed it was another example of European communistic wealth-redistribution.

And sure, he’d have been right.

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