There’s a world outside the World Cup, in fact several worlds, full of nostalgia

Novak Djokovic was second to George Hamilton for the weekend’s top performance

Victoria Beckham and Samuel L Jackson: Wimbledon buddies. Photograph:  Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

Victoria Beckham and Samuel L Jackson: Wimbledon buddies. Photograph: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images


Just when you reckoned there was no sporting life outside the World Cup, along comes Serbia v Switzerland at Wimbledon where, apparently, a tennis tournament has been going on; Cork v Kerry; Dublin v Kilkenny; Graeme McDowell v the rest of the French Open field; and so on. And for those who aren’t into sport, there was also The Great Irish Bake Off and the British Grand Prix.

When Ger Canning reminisced yesterday about the alleged moment in the 1976 Munster final when a woman used her umbrella to trip Pat Spillane as he went to take a quick sideline kick, it got you all nostalgic about sporting times past. Nowadays she’d be the subject of eight Livelines in a row, named and shamed under hashtag #UmbrellaGate, and Pat would be on the cover of Time magazine (‘The Most Intinse Moment Of My Career’). Back then, though, it was just: “Ya auld divil”, and we moved on.

Lovable McEnroe

Changed times. And then you switch to Wimbledon and come over all nostalgic again at the sight of Jimmy Connors (in a jacket last seen in the Hucklebuck days), John McEnroe (who thought he’d ever become loveable?), Boris Becker (desperately in need of factor 97) and Stefan Edberg (looking younger now than then).

We’ll never see their like again, you concluded, at which point Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer said, “oh yeah?”, before giving us an epically fabulous final.

Of course, flicking back and forward from Wimbledon to Páirc Uí Chaoimh inevitably meant missing the bulk of the epic moments. Eg: Beep, beep, text: “D’you hear that? ‘If Wimbledon is strawberries and cream, the Munster final is very much bacon and cabbage.’” Brilliant, who said that? “No clue.” You could, of course, always check the RTÉ player, but the Cork relations have hacked it so memories of yesterday’s encounter has been criminally obliterated.

Back at Wimbledon, and while Boris turned beetroot red, Jimmy kept his cool despite having to share the commentary box with Andrew Castle, the pair with eight Grand Slam titles between them, Jimmy winning just the, well, eight.

Tim Henman was there too, Andrew briefly awarding him Olympic gold before withdrawing it again on being reminded by Tim that it was actually Andy Murray who had triumphed in 2012. “Ha ha,” said Andrew. “Ha ha,” said Jimmy, and Timmy fell silent for the next game or two. And then Andrew talked him through the moment he was disqualified from Wimbledon for almost sending a ball girl in to the middle of next week with an angry-ish ball whack. By now Timmy was wishing he was up on Henman Hill with all the Federer fans.

Ancient at 32

And every time you wrote off their beloved, who, we were regularly reminded, was ancient at 32, back he came, making the final a thing of pure and utter beauty.

Djokovic prevailed, though, but for the sporting performance of the weekend, he still only took the runner-up spot behind George Hamilton.

Divil a sign of Ray Houghton in the commentary box when Costa Rica v Netherlands kicked off, so George had to plough the loneliest of talking furrows. “Please, oh heavenly one, don’t let this go to extra time and penalties,” he’d have beseeched the skies above before the game, so it went to extra time and penalties.

Another epic encounter, albeit in a scoreless kind of way. Half time in extra time: “I think Holland or the Netherlands will get there,” said Gilesie, cheekily hedging his bets.

He was right, Tim Krul launching a trabillion puntastic headlines, the Dutch through on penalties.

Eamon, though, was feeling down about it all, noting that “one by one, the great powers have fallen”.

The World Cup semi-finals? Featuring minnows: Brazil, Argentina, Germany and the Hollerlands.

Eamon: “I definitely don’t see Brazil beating Germany because they’re useless.”

Some folk never learn.

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