Nutella, psychobabble and a great week for women’s sport
TV View: The women’s club final shredded emotions, while Blues Sisters was revealing
Carnacon’s Cora Staunton with Aisling O’Sullivan of Mourneabbey at the final whistle. Photograph: Oisín Keniry/Inpho
A few weeks back, when Andrea Pirlo announced his retirement from football, his old Italian midfield buddy Gennaro Gattuso paid tribute to him, dismissing any notion that without his hard graft when they played together, Pirlo wouldn’t have been the player he was. “When I saw him play it made me think I had to change profession,” he said. “Let’s not confuse Nutella with shit”.
As tributes go, that has few peers. It came to mind on Sunday when the cameras zoomed in on Gattuso’s face after his AC Milan side had conceded a 95th minute equaliser to Benevento, who had lost all 14 of their games so far this season. And the scorer, of all people, was their goalkeeper, Alberto Brignoli.
It was, well, a Nutella moment – Gattuso’s apoplexy, Brignoli’s rapture, the latter making Marco Tardelli seem almost mournful after that 1982 World Cup final goal. There’s still very little in sport that matches the sight of incensed or euphoric Italians.
“Sometimes in football you think you’ve seen everything,” said the breathless BT Sport man, “and then you watch a game like this.” It was magical.
From Gattuso and Brignoli at Stadio Ciro Vigorito to O’Sullivan and Staunton at Parnell Park. Granted, that’s a heck of a sporting leap, but when the final whistle went in the All-Ireland Senior Club Championship final, brought to us by TG4, and Bríd O’Sullivan’s Mourneabbey had lost their third final in four years and Cora Staunton and Carnacon had won their sixth, the contrast in their reactions would have left you shredded. All you could conclude was that if you want a life where your emotions are on a relatively even keel, avoid sport.
O’Sullivan sank to her knees and dissolved, Staunton clenched her fist and punched the air, and then produced a smile that would have lit up Parnell Park if the floodlights had failed.
Not that she had much time to celebrate. She soon had to do a bit of packing before heading for Australia on Tuesday. If she brings all her honours with her, she’ll have to remortgage her home to pay the excess baggage charge.
Staunton might well have given Blues Sisters a miss on Monday night. The documentary tracked the Dublin women’s team’s progress through the 2017 championship, culminating in their victory over Mayo in the final.
It was directed by Pat Comer, so it was predictably absorbing and excellent. Among the many things we learned were that our women’s teams are subjected to as much psychobabble and horse manure in the dressing rooms as their male counterparts. And it’s no less forgiving. “If you don’t play to the strengths we’ve identified in you,” the recently crowned footballer of the year was told, “you’re not worth a f*** to this team.” You wouldn’t want to be sensitive.
The levels of commitment and effort required to even remain part of the panel were mind-blowing, although you wondered how other counties looking on might have felt on viewing those scenes with the team analyst who went through their “indicators”, including shot efficiency. There are counties out there who don’t get a hot shower or a sandwich after training, never mind have the efficiency of their shots analysed.
It’ll be interesting, then, to see if this Dublin team goes on to dominate the championship as the men have done, and if the yawning gap in resources tells. That said, you’ve a notion that shot efficiency analysis didn’t win these women the 2017 All-Ireland. They struck you as a collection of players who could tell the difference between the usefulness of a point and a wide. A bit like their Green Sisters on Tuesday night, when they fought European champions the Netherlands to a 0-0 draw away from home. It was a marvellous couple of nights’ telly for women’s sport.
Not a bad week for golf, either.
“The time has come ... for the return ... unfinished business.” Over a tune that went like this: “It’s a new dawn. It’s a new day. It’s a new life. For me. And I’m feeeeeeeeeeeeling good.”
Sky Sports, then, were giddy: Tiger was back. No flies on him either; he chose the Bahamas for his return.
“We’ve been accused of this being the Tiger Woods fest,” said Denis Pugh with an entirely straight face, Sarah Stirk nodding, before the pair went on to analyse his shot efficiency. Or something like that. Meanwhile, Rickie Fowler was sinking seven consecutive putts and nobody noticed.
“He’s unbeleebable,” said Rafa Nadal of Tiger when the tennis man was snared on course by the NBC people. “Unbeleebable.”
He is too. Which is why you couldn’t complain about the Tiger fest. He is, after all, golf’s Nutella.