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Singing Ireland’s praises too loud makes Rob Kearney uncomfortable, but the strawberry milkshake tastes good

TV View: Donal Óg Cusack is finding nothing about the renovation of Páirc Uí Chaoimh delicious

Right, before we move on to address some of the weekend’s sporting fare, can we talk about Stevie Mulrooney?

Now, people get very upset when it’s pointed out, as it often is, that Ireland’s Call is an abomination, even if that’s an actual fact, but those who are usually sensible enough to mute that part of the prematch singing ceremony would have been blessed if curiosity prompted them to listen in to the little microphone-wielding fella on Sunday.

Because Stevie Mulrooney, gifted with the voice of an angel, performed a miracle. He turned water into wine. He turned Ireland’s Call into a bit of a palatable rouser. Helped by his cry of “COME ON IRELAND!” at the end.

“If the Ireland team performs as well as he has done, we should be in for a good afternoon,” as Virgin Media’s Dave McIntyre put it. He was, then, the man of the match, even before the actual match started.


Right, that’s the Rolling Stone-esque review out of the way. The rugby? Well, having watched Scotland v France and England v Wales on Saturday, Joe Molloy couldn’t but conclude that “Ireland are streets ahead of everyone in this tournament, head and shoulders above the rest”.

His panel flinched a little. “I agree, but I’m uncomfortable saying it,” said Rob Kearney. That class of confidence “doesn’t sit well with us”, Shane Horgan nodded. But it was a conclusion they found hard to resist, even if they find underdog-ness infinitely more agreeable. Although, you’d guess that Irish rugby ship has sailed. All they do is win. Apart from, well, you know, in the latter stages of World Cups.

True, both Scotland v France and England v Wales had exceptionally exciting endings – “it’s death by television for Scotland”, as Andrew Cotter described the TMO decision that broke Tartan hearts – but Matt Williams could find nothing excellent in either of them. England v Wales? “It was like watching rugby league in the 1960s”, which we took as being a very bad thing.

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The Virgin Media poll, which has long since become this couch’s very favourite thing on telly, reflected this level of confidence. “Will Ireland win back-to-back Grand Slams?” Yes: 77 per cent. No: 3 per cent. Too early to say: 20 per cent.

Joe, stoically holding his whisht on that 3 per cent crew, encouraged us to register our vote by scanning the on-screen QR code. But do you have the same experience, that any time you point your phone at a QR code, a Margherita pizza and strawberry milkshake arrive at your door 20 minutes later?

No matter. Come prediction time, Shane, who is often a little circumspect when forecasting the outcomes of matches, threw caution to the wind: “I think Ireland will thump them.”

Which they did. Half-time, 19-0. “Men against boys,” he said. Full-time: 36-0. “Men against toddlers,” he didn’t say, but he was thinking it. In an effort to get that poll up to a 100 per cent Yes for back-to-back Grand Slams, the QR code was scanned. The pizza and milkshake were delicious.

Donal Óg Cusack is finding nothing about the renovation of Páirc Uí Chaoimh delicious. He thinks it’s a mighty fine venue now, as he told Joanne Cantwell when he stood pitchside before Saturday’s Cork v Kilkenny league meeting, but he’s fretting about the cost of it all and the long-term implications for the GAA in the county.

“It’s like going into a couple’s home and they’ve got a nice front room, but they’ve no dinner on the table. The governance in this stadium would make Nero blush. The GAA are the people who have driven all of this. It would remind you of the Tories in the UK: blame everyone else and blame the immigrants for their mistakes.”

All that was needed at that point was for Stevie Mulrooney to step in and sing the Banks. That might have pushed Donal Óg over the edge, though. If he wasn’t there already.