TV View: O’Callaghan puts the boot in as ‘Mighty Ducks’ end Leinster’s season

Former Munster star taken aback by ‘terrible performance’ from Leo Cullen’s men that he reckons should ‘rock the foundations’

Leinster's Ross Byrne and Garry Ringrose show their disappointment following the URC semi-final defeat to the Bulls in Pretoria. Photograph: Christiaan Kotze/Steve Haag Sports/Inpho

The BBC’s Mark Chapman was a bit taken aback by the reaction of Scotland’s Callum McGregor to that 5-1 thumping by Germany on Friday night.

“The only thing guaranteed in football is disappointment,” the Celtic man had sighed.

“Blimey,” Chapman gasped, reckoning that was a less than defiant response to the setback, when, with an eye towards Wednesday’s meeting with Switzerland, he might have been expecting something more along the lines of: “You have bled with Wallace, NOW BLEED WITH ME!”

But for even the bravest of hearts, “the only thing guaranteed in sport is disappointment” might well have been the conclusion at the end of that weekend. Not to reopen wounds or anything, but: the rugby.


“It’s The Avengers versus The Mighty Ducks,” Donncha O’Callaghan had told us in advance of Leinster’s URC semi-final meeting with the Bulls.

“Leinster have too good a quality of player not to win this.”

And then. Well, you know yourself. The ducks were mighty. And even if you only tuned in for the last five minutes and didn’t know the score, Donal Lenihan’s voice – think a 45 played at 33rpm (ask your granny) – would have told you that all was not going well.

The RTÉ panel was, a bit like Leinster, at a loss.

“Serious questions need to be asked of them with a star-studded team like this and all the resources behind them,” said Fiona Coghlan, Donncha nodding furiously.

“That is the greatest upset since Offaly and Kerry,” he said.

“They are one of the best resourced teams in world rugby and they just have not delivered – and people leave them off. The media leave them off. They need to be held accountable, not only for this performance but for the performances over the last while. An absolutely terrible performance, terrible result, and one that should really rock the foundations.”

Back at the ground, the way-too-chirpy South African interviewer was asking James Ryan, “how was that for your guys out there on the field?” “Fabulous,” Ryan didn’t reply, him being too polite.

At least Munster would lift the mood.

Ah stop.

All of which means we’ll have as much involvement in the URC final as we do at Euro 2024. Apart from Roy, of course. Andy Robertson’s chat with the telly people after Friday’s game?

Dublin’s Seán Bugler and Mayo's Jordan Flynn in action during the championship clash at Dr Hyde Park, Roscommon. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Jacqui Hurley (RTÉ): “Credit to him, he’s fighting like a captain there saying they’ve got to go again.”

Shay Given (RTÉ): “He spoke really, really well.”

Didi Hamann (RTÉ): “It was brilliant, one of the best interviews I’ve heard post-match.”

Richie Sadlier (RTÉ): “He was spot on. He didn’t shy away from taking responsibility for their own failings, deflected any criticism away from the manager . . . that was a touch of class. Brilliant, brilliant interview.”

Roy Keane (ITV): “It’s rubbish! Andy Robertson! It’s all just rubbish coming out [of him]! They were on about creating history, they created history all right by being so bad!”

But sure look, life would be dull if there was 110 per cent consensus among our pundits. Like when Graeme Souness tried to put up a defence of his native land.

“Germany are a nation of 83 million people. We’re a nation of 5.2 million.” “That’s a good excuse,” said Roy, his eyeballs nearly stuck to the ceiling.

Sunday. the Netherlands (population 8,110,000) 2, Poland (population 38,036,118) 1. Mayo (population 137,231) 0-17, Dublin (population 1,501,500) 0-17. So it’s really more about quality than quantity, a case of just plucking 11 or 15 (depending on the code) half-decent players from your populace and making them contenders.

The man of the match award at Dr Hyde Park should really have gone to Mayo manager Kevin McStay for insisting in his post-match chat with RTÉ that he wasn’t disappointed with the draw, all the while chewing the gums off himself.

His team had, after all, been just 30-ish seconds away from beating the Dubs before Cormac Costello did Cormac Costello things. “The only thing guaranteed in football is disappointment,” McStay would have been entitled to conclude.

But the Dubs are, well, the Dubs.

“We know they never go away,” said Eamonn Fitzmaurice up in the commentary box after a zinger of a contest. “Thanks be to God for these Dublin v Mayo games, it’s brought the championship to life again.”

You’d guess he thinks Kerry might still be in with a shout, though. Even with a population of just 156,458. Remember, quality not quantity.