Nothing watered down as Brolly and Co take stock at start of the Championship

Panel’s pessimism about new season dispersed by Donegal and Tyrone

The RTE panel of Colm O’Rourke, Joe Brolly and Pat Spillane were back this weekend. Photo: Inpho

The RTE panel of Colm O’Rourke, Joe Brolly and Pat Spillane were back this weekend. Photo: Inpho

 

Summer might actually have been 17 days old by the time The Sunday Game kicked off yesterday, but, as we know, it doesn’t officially start until we hear that tune – and then see the rain bucketing down, as it was in Ballybofey. The old saying is that we only have two seasons in Ireland, May and winter, so gawd help us all if the other 11 months take a weathery turn for the worse.

Michael Lyster invited us all to send our questions to the lads, namely Joseph Brolly, Patrick Spillane and Colm O’Rourke, using the #AskThePanel hashtag on the Twitter machine, and the first we spotted was: “Can you wipe the window behind you please?” And when the game started: “Can someone do the wipers on the camera?” And then, somewhat despairingly: “Have ye no cloth to wipe the camera lens?”

Brollys everywhere, then, but just the one in the studio, which was probably just as well for Pat’s nerves. And sensibly, in light of his recent revelation (you know, about him owning eight All-Ireland medals and Joe just the one so Joe’s opinion doesn’t count for much: “Just before he starts going, I’d whisper to him ‘one All-Ireland medal, Joe. No one gives a shite’”), Colm was positioned strategically between the pair.

Any way, Michael was very excited about the start of the championship, pumped up by that tingly opening film, but discovered the lads were less feverish, Colm forecasting that “we’ll have some awful days”, Joe reckoning “if you could get two good Championships games a year you’d be happy”.

That wasn’t upbeat.

And:

Pat: “We’re looking for good entertainment and high quality . . .”

Joe: “Bwahahaha!!!!”

If the trio ever decide to go into sales after their media careers, they weren’t exactly enhancing their CVs, and with the opening game featuring two Ulster teams, it being the Ulster Championship and all, you sensed by half-time that they might have left for home, taking their “Made in Donegal” blankets with them. And leaving Michael on his lonesome.

Funny thing

(Speaking of which:

Joanne Cantwell: “What happened at half-time?”

Donegal manager Rory Gallagher: “Jesus, I just think it was two teams heading in, you know?” Quality answer, really).

The panel, though, weren’t as enthused come full-time. “A typical Donegal three-point thrashing,” Joe sighed, while Colm complained that the second half had been “characterised by petty vindictiveness, with all sorts of mean-spirited mouthing at each other”, which probably had Donegal and Tyrone watchers at home howling, “AND HE PLAYED FOR MEATH!”

Now, now.

“I enjoyed it, I have to say,” said Michael, sounding like a man who had just owned up to a terrible thing. Joe then declared Michael Murphy to be “the most influential player in Gaelic football”. Well, you might as well have chucked a Molotov cocktail into the studio. Flames. Everywhere.

Colm: “THAT’S A REALLY STUPID THING TO SAY!”

Pat: “ABSOLUTELY!”

Joe: “IT’S MY VIEW!”

And then Joe asked Colm to name anyone more influential and he mentioned The Gooch and Pat agreed, but Joe said that was daft because The Gooch has always played in star-studded teams whereas Murphy doesn’t, and Colm thought that was silly, and Pat did too but Joe stood his ground and so did Colm . . .

Michael: “It’s going to be a long summer.”

Was that the end of the squabble? Yes. No, wait . . .

Pretty soon, most of us were busy waiting to see if they’d answer Cathal O’Connell’s question: “Would Joe Brolly rather fight 20 duck-sized Pat Spillanes or one Pat Spillane-sized duck?”

They never answered. So we’ll just keep on wondering.

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