Mary Hannigan’s TV View: the weekend has again shown us that sport is diabolically cruel

People who follow sports teams are gluttons for having their hearts reduced to smithereens

It’s rare enough that you’d have any sympathy with those wackadoodles who habitually complain about there being too much sport on telly because, as we know, there can never be enough. But the weekend just gone was a test for even the most committed of sofa spuds, the unrelenting nature of the fare on offer barely leaving time to come up for air.

This can be addling, of course, but there's always someone worse off. Like, say, Pat Spillane who had to travel from Kerry to Limerick on Sunday, where the hosts had just beaten Tipperary, to work on the game between Cavan and Donegal in Monaghan. Noelle Healy had to come from Dublin to complete the same task, but she seemed to take it in her stride, Pat, by then, not sure what planet he was on, never mind in which county.

The chief conclusion after the weekend that was in it was that sport is diabolically cruel. Yes, we knew this already, but a bit like that much disputed notion that women are biologically programmed to forget the pain of childbirth so that they’ll have more kids, you wonder if a similar factor is at play in sports-team-following.

Like, will Munster fans now be biologically programmed to forget the pain of that penalty shoot-out defeat on Saturday so that they'll come back for more next season? That's almost as big a question as why does that Vodafone boy live in a lighthouse?.



But we can be very certain that Munster fans will indeed come back for more, even if the pain of Saturday never actually subsides, because that’s what sports-team-following people tend to do. Gluttons for having their hearts reduced to smithereens.

Just think of the Manchester United faithful who made a nine-hour round-trip to Brighton on Saturday evening only to end up very loudly echoing Graeme Souness's thoughts back in the Sky studio after that 4-0 mullering: "You're not fit to wear the shiiiiiiiirt." (Those who suggest they only had to come from London, hush).

Any way, it's not that Munster would have expected their encounter with Toulouse to be a breeze, BT's Craig Doyle pointing out pre-match the strength of their bench, never mind their starting 15, most of its occupants of the gargantuan kind.

"Not a neck in sight between the lot of them," Peter Stringer observed.

Craig, meanwhile, explained to his English viewers, who might have been befuddled by Munster playing a home game in enemy territory, why the Aviva had turned red.

"Ed Sheeran is in Thomond Park, but today this is Munster's Castle on the Hill," he told them. You knew by Peter's face he feared the day would be a long one, with Craig puntastically going through Ed's entire back catalogue.

Munster's start to the game? Perfect, thanks to that Alex Kendellen try, but thereafter it was a ding-dong of the heart-mushing kind, all square at full-time.

“The Guinness has been replaced by Gaviscon,” said Craig as the crowd prepared for extra-time, all the while crooning “in your he-eh-eh-ead, in your he-eh-eh-ead, zombie, zombie, zombieeeeeeeeee”, which would have left any Toulouse folk unfamiliar with the Cranberries both mystified and petrified.

Extra time

At that point, BT's Alastair Eykyn told his viewers that they could switch to BT Sport Extra 3, which is usually reserved for the likes of the Bolivian Baton Twirling Championships, for Leinster's trip to Leicester, but any who changed channels is just weird.

Still all square at the end of extra time so we had ourselves a shoot-out. Conor Murray successful with his first effort. "One-nil Munster …. I never thought I'd get to use that line," said Alastair.

Thereafter? The Munster faithful flipped from Dolores to Rod, in a kind of “I don’t want to . . . talk about it” sort of way. Brutal.

Even Austin Healey felt sorry for the Irish team, “I think an arm wrestle would have been fairer,” he said, him pitchside over at Leicester.

"Antoine Dupont probably would have won that too," said Rob Kearney, and he was probably right.

Heartbreak, too, as if the weekend hadn't brought us enough, for our Katie McCabe, her Arsenal side pipped to the Super League title on the final day by Chelsea.

There was hope in Gunners' hearts when Manchester United led twice against Chelsea, Erik ten Hag probably wishing he was taking over the ladies instead of the lads, but then Sam Kerr only went and scored twice, the second a worldie, and Chelsea were home and hosed.


Sky always trembles a touch when Chelsea gaffer Emma Hayes comes to have a chat with them, because they're a bit nervous about the air being turned blue, but she was on her best behaviour when she talked with Caroline Barker.

And then while Sky had a natter with player-of-the-match Erin Cuthbert, Emma's voice boomed over the PA from the other side of the ground when she addressed the Chelsea supporters.

“NEVER TAKE ANY ONE OF THESE ****ING PLAYERS FOR GRANTED BECAUSE THEY’RE ****ING WORLD BEATERS,” she said. Caroline gulped, smiled bravely, and apologised.

But only a wackadoodle could be upset with Emma. She’s just won her third league title in a row. So as well as the air she’s turned the Super League blue. Doff yer cap.