TV View: Thomas Davis and England win on an underdog day
Tallaght club upset the odds to reach Dublin final while the All Blacks are beaten in Japan
Thomas Davis celebrate their win over Kilmacud Crokes. Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho
Hands up. Who in all honesty saw that one coming? The Invincibles beaten. Not only that, but out-muscled and out-played and very firmly put in their place. A team not given a hope in hell outdid the raging hot favourites in all areas and most importantly on the scoreboard.
No, we’re not talking about England beating the mighty All Blacks; the real seismic result of the sporting Saturday was Thomas Davis usurping Kilmacud Crokes in the Dublin senior football championship as brought to us by RTÉ from Parnell Park on Saturday evening.
As commentator Liam Aherne described the unfolding shock of all shocks as the clock ticked down, “Isn’t this the joy of sport? This is why people go to matches week-in, week-out because the underdogs can do something special.”
RTÉ’s move into live broadcasts of the GAA club scene - an area traditionally served so well by TG4 - has reaped dividends in recent weeks with some topclass action from Kerry, Donegal and the Dublin championships and this latest offering, a double-header, again showed the merits of bringing grassroots games to a wider audience.
In the build-up to the second match, Dublin veterans Paddy Andrews and Mossy Quinn provided an excellent backstory to how Tallaght club Thomas Davis had been consigned to the county’s second tier senior football championship in more recent years only to win their way back to the top tier with victory in the “B” championship a year ago and take that winning culture onwards and upwards into the championship proper.
“But they’re the surprise packets, the ones we wouldn’t have expected to see here,” wondered presenter Evanne Ni Chuilinn, before asking: “Is this . . . a foregone conclusion?”
“If both teams play to their best, Kilmacud are probably a five or six points better team,” admitted Quinn.
Andrews reminded us how they’d already taken the scalps of Castleknock and told us how Thomas Davis “would have had a chip on their shoulders with being moved down to the second tier of the championship (where they) got used to winning, (they) have huge momentum. Not going to lose this match from lack of endeavor. What might get them is a little bit of a quality gap. They’re here on merit, which is the main thing.”
And so it proved to be, as Thomas Davis - who last won the county title in 1991 - made a return to the big-time with a squad of club players. “Fairytales do come true,” pronounced Aherne at the final whistle, with co-commentator Dessie Dolan chirping in. “Absolutely, it is hard to beat club football. It is magical, it is special.”
Donnycarney might be a world removed from Yokohama but there was a similar story of the so-called underdogs usurping the raging hot favourites as England booked their place in the World Cup final at the expense of New Zealand.
In the run-up, England coach Eddie Jones had asked a roomful of journalists to put their hand up if they thought his team had any chance of winning. Nobody did. The same might have been said in the RTÉ studio as Eddie O’Sullivan, Stephen Ferris and Brent Pope leaned towards the All Blacks while over at pitchside Hugh Cahill picked Donal Lenihan’s brains. “New Zealand by six!”
When New Zealand were firmly put in their place, Popey conceded the better team had won. “You have to put your hands up and say they were thoroughly deserving winners. . .England’s defence went up another notch and New Zealand were running up cul de sacs.”
And so the end game is nearly upon us with now England cast in the role of raging hot favourites against South Africa. “You’ve got to think they have more to offer than this,” said an exasperated Lenihan after the Springboks had edged out Wales in what, he admitted, “wasn’t a great match.” Maybe South Africa won’t mind being tagged as the underdogs.