TV View: Pádraig Harrington could give Sky Sports a lesson
No flies on the three-time major winner but the same can't be said for Alex Payne
Pádraig Harrington: off to California soon, and “nobody’s feeling sorry for me”. Photograph: Warren Little/Getty
For a second it looked as if Portlaoise had found itself in some class of microclimate that had allowed Moy Tír na nÓg and An Ghaeltacht play their club-championship semi-final on a bone-dry pitch that had the look of a snooker table. But it was actually April’s league final between Kerry and Dublin that was on our screens, TG4 having had to fiddle with its schedule after O’Moore Park resembled Venice when it turned up with its cameras.
Over on Sky Sports Alex Payne was bad-mouthing the skies over Limerick after they had deposited so much water on Thomond Park the players would have needed gondolas to make their way around the pitch. And then he showed us scenes from Leicester, where the Tigers and Racing 92 appeared to be trapped in a snow globe, a wintry flurry whiting out Welford Road.
So it was hard enough to feel crushed for Wayne Riley, over in the United Arab Emirates, when he told us that for the first time ever in his travels to the Middle East he’d had to put a jumper on, its being a frigid 21 degrees and quite blustery, with an occasional cloud appearing in the sky. Met UAE probably issued a status-red severe-weather warning for the day that was in it.
There was a time when the thought of Pádraig sharing a green room with Shane MacGowan before a chatshow might have left you fretting, but he’s a changed man
Pádraig Harrington didn’t make it to Abu Dhabi, but he’s off to California soon, and “nobody’s feeling sorry for me”, he told Ryan Tubridy when he turned up on The Late Late Show on Friday night. He wasn’t wrong.
There was a time when the thought of Pádraig sharing a green room with Shane MacGowan before a chatshow might have left you – and Pádraig – fretting, but he’s a changed man, he says, a whole lot more chilled out than he used to be. As evidence he told Ryan that rather than staying at an on-course hotel for his next tournament in San Diego, which would give him a heap of time to practice, he’ll be sharing a house with Shane Lowry 40 minutes away. “I’m going to have much better craic in the house,” he said – with such a glint you feared he’ll be keeping Shane awake all night by blasting out The Pogues.
This, he conceded, was a considerable change of approach to his career from the days when, as Lowry put it, “Pádraig Harrington thinks he’s going to win this week – and he’s not even playing”.
What he’s less relaxed about is being asked by every Tom, Dick and Harriet – taxi drivers among the offenders – why he changed his swing after he won his majors. You just knew that when he left Montrose that night, in the back of a cab, he’d get another half-hour of “If you’d left it alone you’d have won piles more.”
Does he get it all the time?
Pádraig Harrington on playing with Donald Trump
“All the time. For 10 years now. Some days I ignore it, some days I bite. I can bite at times.”
He’ll bite a taxi driver’s head off one day, and no judge will convict him. Quite rightly, too.
The old Pádraig was always a good listen, but the new version is in must-not-miss territory. If they’d locked everyone else in the green room and kept him on all night you’d have been grand about it.
Would he agree to play a round of golf with Donald Trump if the Government asked him to? “A person said to me, ‘What’s the difference between a smart man and a wise man? A smart man knows the answers to all the questions. A wise man avoids the question.’ ”
But, when nudged, “I can guarantee you, if the Government of Ireland asked me to do something, I would do it.”
And you just know the first thing Trump would say to him would be: “Why did you change your swing, loser? Sad!”
Back to the rugby. The Thomond Park groundsmen should be given the freedom of Limerick after they turned a swamp into a playable pitch in just three hours, so we were up and running come 4pm.
The weekend permutations were straightforward for Munster, of course: win and they were through – although they could end up as second seeds if Clermont Auvergne didn’t beat the Ospreys and the Scarlets beat Toulon but without a bonus point and Munster beat Castres by more than the Scarlets beat Toulon. Simples.
Castres made a fatal mistake by taking an early lead, Munster responding with just the 48 points. Permutations in the bin; job done.
In one of those when-will-they-ever-learn? moments Alex Payne asked a Munster fan in the supporters’ bar if he’d been confident all along that the tries would come.
“Always going to come – 100 per cent professional every f***ing minute of the game!”
It had already been a long day for the Sky man. By now he thought it would never end.