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TV View: Tree-hugging Harrington, sexy fingers Lowry

Offalyman’s ‘seeeeeriously sexy’ fingers not enough to hand him a victory

Out of his tree: Pádraig Harrington hits his third shot on the 7th hole during the final round of the Turkish Airlines Open in Antalya. Photograph: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

“Strap yourselves in, Ireland,” Sky’s Wayne Riley advised us when Pádraig Harrington readied himself to play out of a tree, but those who’d answered Ireland’s call and risen at 6am in time for our Rugby League World Cup clash in Port Moresby were long since strapped in. Our Australian telly hosts had, after all, warned us of a decidedly bumpy ride against a Papua New Guinea side that had beaten Wales by just the 44 points. So, Pádraig’s battles with nature looked like a tame enough challenge in comparison.

Mind you, at least we got the opportunity to buckle up. Australia’s Channel 7 (via eir Sport), before turning their attention to Ireland’s game, brought us news from the Scottish camp: three of their players, including their captain, weren’t allowed board their flight from Christchurch to Brisbane because they were trolleyed.

That one of the players was called Johnny Walker had Laurie Daley giggling so hard the studio desk trembled, but Brett Kimmorley thought it was no laughing matter, preferring to focus instead on on-field matters, namely the strength of Papua New Guinea. By the time he finished reminiscing about how black and blue he would be after playing against them back in his day, you wished the entire Irish squad had been thrown off their flight to Port Moresby.


Our host Jim Wilson asked Brett for his prediction. “PNG will win, obviously.” He didn’t bother asking Laurie – he was still snorting over Johnny Walker.

But just five minutes in to the game, possibly inspired by a highly emotive rendition of Ireland’s Call by a man called Scott Muller (who is one-tenth of The Ten Tenors, apparently), Ireland only went and scored a try. Take that, Brett Kimmorley. Granted, they didn’t score again and lost 14-6, but still.

So, on to Turkey in search of early morning Irish success, and there was Pádraig being interviewed by Sky’s Tim Barter as he ambled down the fairway. Tim was asking him about his miracle shot in the second round when his ball landed beside a tree, Andrew Coltart describing his predicament as “like trying to unscramble an egg”. But with his bottom close enough to being perched on a branch, he managed to pitch the ball within three feet of the hole.

Pádraig made the point that golfing life would actually be a whole lot easier if every shot was out of a tree, because there was really only one way to extricate yourself, so you weren’t troubled by choices. Soon after, he found another tree and you began to wonder if he was aiming for them. He, alas, found the water from there, his concentration possibly not helped by a chorus of barking Turkish dogs in the background. But then he chipped in to make par and he had those mad stare-y eyes on him, so you sensed he sniffed victory.  

‘The sexy fingers’

Not to be, though, Shane Lowry missing out too, having shared the lead going into the final round. And Wayne had had high hopes for him, largely due to his, well, alluring digits. “This boy, he has the sexy fingers . . . we talk about sexy fingers, but this guy, these are seeeeeriously sexy.”

You didn’t know where to look, really. But if there was a poll carried out on Sunday asking “which Irish sportsman has the sexiest fingers?” you’d guess Cork City fans would have flooded it with votes for Mark McNulty after his penalty save helped them complete their League and Cup double.

A double-double, too, after Cork City’s women opened the day by beating UCD Waves to win the cup with a peach of a goal from Clare Shine. “Two years ago we couldn’t even score a goal,” she said after the game, which gave some indication of how the team has progressed this last while.

The highlight of the day, though, was possibly Brian Kerr’s homage to flares, a number of which were set off during the boys’ game despite pleas from the FAI that they be left at home.  

“I always think it adds a little bit of a big-time touch to a match, the smell of the flares, far too much health and safety stuff around matches these days,” he said, insisting there’s divil a thing wrong with “a little bit of smokiness”. And George Hamilton reckoned it was all very fitting in light of it being Guy Fawkes Night.

Guy Fawkes, of course, was hung, drawn and quartered. But we shouldn’t give the FAI any ideas as they continue trying to enforce their ban.