If there's a medal in the offing, our Fionnuala will always be in the running


TV View:Britton’s bronze came as no surprise to anyone who didn’t change channels mid-race

With a lap to go, George Hamilton was, no more than ourselves, bidding adieu to Fionnuala Britton’s medal hopes as she drifted backwards in the 3000m final in Gothenburg yesterday, which might well have prompted half the audience to switch over to Sky to hear Jamie Redknapp’s musings about the impending north London derby between Gareth Bale Hotspur and Arsenal.

If they flicked back to RTÉ soon after, they’d have been flummoxed to see a smiling Fionnuala standing on the podium with a chunk of bronze hanging around her neck, but as we should all know by now, if it’s a Sunday and Fionnuala Britton is running, there’s a medal in the offing.

A rapturous Jerry Kiernan was doing the Harlem Shake back in the RTÉ studio, which is in no way true, but he was mildly impressed, even if you get the sense he regards indoor running as just the diversion that fills the void before the outdoorsy stuff gets under way.

(Proof of this is how far back he was leaning in his chair yesterday, to the point where he was nigh on horizontal. And he’s always upright for outdoorsy running).

Fishy business

“Medals are medals and you just have to enjoy them,” Fionnuala told RTÉ after she did her thing, even though indoor running for her is a bit fish-out-of-water-ish.

And no one, as it happens, knows more about sporting fish than Niall Quinn, as his recent observation about the QPR chairman proved: “He’s in a goldfish bowl, swimming against the tide.”

(Maintaining the theme: Poor old Setanta was, well, a fish in troubled waters on Saturday, having prepared lovely tributes to Ryan Giggs for his 1,000th senior appearance in the Manchester United v Norwich game, only for the fella not even to make it on to the bench. Paul Dempsey conceded Giggs had bigger fish to fry, namely Real Madrid tomorrow, but showed the tributes anyway, hoping he doesn’t, having signed a shiny new contract, announce his retirement today).

Back to north London, where Bale and 10 AN Spurs Others were trying to put Arsenal in their place, namely outside the Champions League qualifying spots. “And five doesn’t go into four,” as Niall Quinn told us, a computation that had Jamie reaching for his abacus.

One thing Jamie knew: “the whole season changes if Arsenal get a result like they did here last year – albeit, they were at home then,” a computation that had Niall reaching for his smelling salts.

And off we went, two Spurs goals in two first-half minutes leaving Arsene Wenger looking like a man who wanted to eat his own face. The second one, in particular, left Gary Neville, in the Sky commentary box, casting a doubt or two over the proficiency of the Arsenal central defensive pairing: “Oh my goodness me . . . what are they doing . . . why, why, why . . . it’s just nonsense!” Arsenal staged a mini-comeback, but it wasn’t to be, Wenger warmly congratulating Andre Villas-Boas at the final whistle. You can’t beat the old ones, eh? It would be truer to say there was white smoke coming out of Arsene’s ears, which takes us seamlessly to the analogy of the week.

Tonight with Vincent Browne, Thursday. The topic? The retiring pope versus the new pope, whoever she might be. “Perhaps there’s a parallel with the Irish rugby team in that Jamie Heaslip’s captaincy of the team is being somewhat undermined by Brian O’Driscoll being still on the team,” Vincent wondered.

Patsy McGarry didn’t know quite what to say. Other than: “I don’t think there are any plans for the Vatican to play Scotland any time soon.”

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