Regrets, he gave us a few: Michael Lyster bows out
TV View: He was hoping to go out on a high at Croker, but then Dublin did what Dublin do
Dublin’s Jack McCaffrey, Paul Mannion and Niall Scully celebrate after their All-Ireland SFC win over Tyrone. Photograph: Ryan Byrne
It was a day full of regrets.
Pat Spillane said he was sorry for ever using the “puke” word to describe Tyrone’s football.
Colm O’Rourke mourned the time he pledged to eat his hat if Brian Dooher ever won an All-Ireland medal (three Dooher triumphs later and Colm was dining on nothing but Rennies).
Joe Brolly came perilously close to apologising to Mayo for giggling at their attempts to beat Dublin (“How did this Dublin team never go out and pulverise Mayo? Mayo must be a hell of a team!”)
But no apology was more heartfelt than the one Michael Lyster offered on Sunday morning’s The Dressing Room as he prepared to present his very last All-Ireland final (barring a replay which, such was the consensus during the build-up, was as likely as us experiencing 17 lightning strikes and one Lotto win).
“I am actually responsible for Joe and Pat ending up being pundits on The Sunday Game so I would like to take this opportunity to apologise to the nation for all the grief and suffering over the last 20 years.”
You want, of course, to be magnanimous at times like these. Michael, after all, had hosted 77 All-Ireland finals, which makes him all but family, but lesser crimes have been prosecuted in The Hague.
All you could hope, though, was that he could go out on a high. And, 15 minutes in, that appeared to be a possibility; we had ourselves a game. All you could think of was Seán Kavanagh’s observation on Up for the Match that “we love an ambush in Tyrone”.
Mind you, Seán’s confidence appeared to have evaporated come Sunday.
Joanne Cantwell: “Are you tipping Tyrone to win?”
Seán: “No comment.”
And such was the pre-match chat, it was surprising enough that Tyrone even turned up, but turn up they did, Derry man Joe telling Michael that he had been serenaded with cries of “there’s no London in Tyrone!” as he wound his way into the ground. That alone merited a five-point start for Tie Rone. (Are we still irritated by the persistent failure to pronounce it Tír Eoghain? Did we mention lesser crimes being prosecuted in The Hague?)
Teams out. Michael D in the house, looking remarkably relaxed for a man with three Dragons breathing fire down his neck.
Off we went and in no time Tyrone were five points to one up, Ger Canning and Dessie Dolan gobsmacked by their temerity to make a game of it. The problem was, though, that by doing so they stirred Dublin from their slumber, and there ended the contest, the remaining 55-ish minutes a procession that disintegrated into a snooze-fest, to the point where you’d even be flicking over to see how Watford v Spurs was progressing.
Half-time. Michael wondered why Mickey Harte gathered his players into a huddle on the pitch.
“I’d say it was the first decade of the Rosary they started there,” said Colm.
Second half. Divil a sign of divine intervention; not even a Tyrone penalty and a Dublin red card could make a contest of it. RTÉ’s “wides” caption was sponsored by a deodorant company, but the Dubs didn’t even come close to sweating. It was grim, in or around as bad as we feared.
Less revolutionary, Colm concluded, was the state of the game this weather: “It’s become unwatchable unless Dublin are involved”.
Joe and Pat, for once, didn’t disagree, Joe mounting his high horse yet again to castigate “the morass of dross”. But then they turned their focus on wishing Michael a fond farewell.
There wasn’t enough Kleenex in the house after that tribute video, Michael sporting his Kajagoogoo hairdo and V-neck sweaters that should have resulted in him having to defend himself in The Hague.
Happy retirement, Michael Lyster. Thanks for the memories.
(Well, apart from the 2018 football final.)