World Cup thrillers enhanced by The Joey N’Do and Kenny Cunningham Show

World Cup TV View: Cameroon, Serbia, Ghana and South Korea delighted on the pitch, while RTÉ’s pundits informed and entertained off it

If you’re asked in, dunno, 20 years’ time ‘where were you when Cameroon played Serbia in Qatar and Joey N’Do was in the RTE studio?’, and you answer ‘took a World Cup hiatus, went off to do my Christmas shopping”, then here: have a hug.

But no one could blame you, we tend not to have high expectations for any Monday morning, not just World Cup ones, and Cameroon v Serbia didn’t exactly promise to rocket-fuel us with gusto into the week ahead by being a thriller of the occasionally bonkers kind.

But that it was.

The highlight?


Runner-up: Vincent Aboubakar’s scoopy goal.

The winner: Joey’s take on it.

“When you see the finish, it’s just ... oh là là là là là, football, football, football, listen, listen, what can I say? Oooh là là là là là là là là là. It’s amazing, it’s amazing, it’s just completely, completely, completely amazing. I can’t believe it, I can’t believe it, it was just amazing ... it was so poetic, the slow motion, ooooh my heart, ooooh là là.”

Now, you rarely hear, say, Ronnie Whelan react to a goal in that manner, never mind dance around the RTE studio as Joey did in celebration, unless it was a shinner against the USSR in Hanover (be still our beating hearts). But just when our World Cup telly folk were all getting a bit whingy, along came Joey.

It was actually a whole eight years ago that he made his RTE World Cup punditry debut, having played for Cameroon in the 1998 finals, and he blew our minds by having more to say about the African teams than ‘they’re very athletic, but lack discipline – although their fans are great gas’.

He was at it again on Monday, educating us, so enthused by his country’s comeback from two goals down to draw 3-3 with Serbia that he had a notion they’d win the next World Cup.

“What? Next century,” asked Kenny Cunningham.

D’you know, if the Joey & Kenny Show was pay-per-view, you’d be whipping out your credit card, the pair kind of football punditry’s version of Abbott and Costello (ask your Granny).

Tony O’Donoghue, who has always tended to have a smiley head on him, even when reporting on emergency FAI board meetings at four in the morning in Abbotstown in the depths of winter, needed his sides restitched.

Joey (on Cameroon’s comeback): “I never doubt ... you doubt!”

Kenny: “You had your taxi booked!”

Kenny [being provocative]: “It’s Christmas in a few weeks. Serbia boxed it up, put a red ribbon on it and handed it to Cameroon!”

Joey [affronted]: “Whaaaaaaat?!”

Tony [being kind]: “You’re still in the tournament!”

Joey [indignant]: “We’ve never been out!

Joey on Aboubakar’s scoop [chuckling]: “He reminded me of a young Joey!”

Kenny [being rude]: “Did you ever get that far up the pitch?”

And Monday carried on being the gift that couldn’t stop giving: Ghana 3, South Korea 2. Just the 11 goals in the first two games of the day.

“What a magical game of football,” said Tony. “South Korea threw absolutely everything at it, the kitchen sink, all the kitchen utensils,” said Kenny, which was true, only the tumble dryer held in reserve.

By then, the Opta stats people told us that South Korea had fired in 35 crosses from open play, 15 of them finding colleagues, the highest success rate on that front since folk started recording these things in 1966.

“The postmen were on point today, the delivery was amazing,” as Joey put it.

Not even Brazil could outdo that fare later in the day, although Casemiro’s late goal finally saw off the Swiss. “He finished like a Brazilian,” said George Hamilton, to which Casemiro might have replied: “I’d hardly finish like a lad from Termonfeckin.”

A glorious start to any Monday.

“Jogo Bonito,” Joey purred, which sounds a whole lot more lovely than ‘the beautiful game’.

Never mind that, though: Jogo Joey.