‘Mark said he thought he’d lost the plot, I don’t think he’s ever found it’
Referees get the cold shoulder as pundits struggle with the October heat
The blue skies over The Showgrounds in Sligo for Sunday’s FAI Cup semi-final. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho
Yet another lively old sporting weekend, an unseasonably balmy one too. “I’ve been in Sligo for plenty of cup games over the years and I’ve never had to keep the sun out of my eyes,” said Brian Kerr as he and George Hamilton were nigh on blinded, both perhaps having donned their thermals as they headed northwest, it being October and all.
And then Sligo proceeded to put even more sunshine in to the lives of the faithful by sending Shamrock Rovers back southeast with their collective tail between their collective legs, their opponents in next month’s FAI Cup final Drogheda, who had earlier seen off their best friends Dundalk.
Quite a build-up RTÉ gave to that game, too, the words of Vince Lombardi even getting an airing: “I firmly believe that any man’s finest hour, the greatest fulfilment of all that he holds dear, is that moment when he has worked his heart out in a good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle – victorious.”
Mean and moody
For a minute you thought it was Sky building up to the Ryder Cup all over again.
And then “THE LOUTH DERBY” appeared over a bunch of ferocious-looking mean and moody soldiers standing in a field, which left you wondering just what kind of battle RTÉ was anticipating at Hunky Dorys Park.
A keenly contested one, as it proved, Dundalk reduced to nine soldiers by the referee, a penalty deciding the affair, the visiting faithful heading home feeling all was less than hunky dory with the football officiating world.
A mile or two across the Irish sea, Everton folk were feeling much the same on Saturday after their run-in with Manchester City, their emotions echoed by BT’s resident refereeing expert Mark Halsey who suggested Jonathan Moss had “lost the plot”, having dished out nine yellow cards and made a couple of not completely convincing penalty decisions.
“Was that harsh,” wondered Jake Humphrey back in the studio.
“Well,” said Neil Warnock of Moss, “he’s not one of my favourite people. Mark said he thought he’d lost the plot, I don’t think he’s ever found it, me.”
Owen Hargreaves chuckled, David James’s face said “Plonker”, so there was a variety of opinion.
Later on Saturday, the Match of the Day panel felt Everton had been hard-ish done by too, although Roy Hodgson, him being the first serving England manager ever to appear on the programme, had to tread carefully, lest all two City players in his squad be withdrawn due to mysterious afflictions.
Rowdy and opinionated
Sky, meanwhile, has upped its game, Jamie Carragher proving to be a rather rowdy and opinionated addition to its roster. Although you’d imagine Norwich fans took umbrage yesterday when he insisted the team deserved credit for their courage against Chelsea: “They came out, didn’t they?”
Granted, he most probably meant that 11 Canaries didn’t all chain themselves to their goalpost in the hope of blocking Chelsea’s route to goal, which, in the end, they breached just three times, their defence “crumbling like a meringue”, as the Hamilton man put it of Manchester City’s Champions League mishap against Bayern Munich earlier in the week.
Speaking of crumbling, the horse lads who attempted to take on filly Treve in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe yesterday are still wiping the dust from their eyes.
Girl power, and all that.
Before an earlier race, Channel 4s’s Nick Luck had echoed John Inverdale’s decidedly unpleasant remarks about Wimbledon champion Marion Bartoli when he spotted lady horse Secret Gesture in the parade ring.
“She’s not much to look at,” he said.
“It doesn’t matter,” said the Grand-National-winning-retired-jockey Mick Fitzgerald, “I’m not much to look at and I did alright.”
True, that. Hunky Dory, in fact. A crinkle cut crisp response from Mr Fitzgerald.