We need another ‘Cyrus Crispy’ moment after week of sporting gloom
Danes beat us, bid to host RWC proved unsuccessful and no joy in international rules series
Ireland international rules players were among the Irish athletes to endure disappointment last week. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho
“And it had all looked so good,” said Sean Kavanagh.
He was talking about the second international rules game down Perth way on Saturday, but he could have been describing the nation’s entire sporting week, in to which we had entered with hope in our hearts.
Come the end of it we had several contenders for Ireland’s Most Calamitous Sporting Moment, once RTÉ finally get around to making it.
Ruby Walsh’s mediocrity-o-meter will blow a fuse.
Our Danish demolition set the tone, and while few, apart maybe from Dick Spring, would argue that being awarded the hosting rights for the 2023 Rugby World Cup would have eased the pain of our failure to book a trip to Russia next summer, at least it would have been a small Ole Ole moment to lift our spirits.
In the end, the offer of Craic agus Ceol failed to swing the vote for us, Daire O’Brien suggesting to his panel on Saturday that “it started out as a Lovely Girls competition, but quickly became the Hunger Games”. Donal, Shane, Eddie, aka Messrs Lenihan, Horgan and O’Sullivan, alleged that loot was a factor, which stunned us, with Eddie noting ruefully that not only did two of our Celtic cousins – bad cess to you, Scotland and Wales – fail to vote for us, Italy did too.
“And we’ve always been there for Italy,” he added. Next time they need a shoulder to shoulder to cry on, we won’t be answering Italy’s call. We’ll divert them to voicemail.
Daire, though, reckoned we just weren’t sharp enough on the politicking front, citing the recent activities of French rugby president Bernard Laporte. “He was like a ferret up a drainpipe,” he said.
Small bit of comfort
Any way, at least rugby provided us with a small bit of comfort at the week’s end, when most of us might have anticipated a last-minute Fijian try just to complete the misery.
It, mercifully, didn’t come, but an Australian resurgence did over at the Subiaco Oval, our boys having led 30-17 at half-time in Perth, everything going swimmingly. And even the rowdy brawl between the teams as they headed for the dressing rooms was greeted with approval by the largely Irish crowd, if not by Marty Morrissey. “This is just ridiculous… totally unacceptable!”
Back in the studio, Michael Lyster: “We all want to see a bit of that kind of craic – and then when it happens it’s ‘oh God almighty, that’s a disgrace!”
Marty might have a word when he gets home, but first he’ll have to recover from being lobsterised by the Adelaide sun during his trip to the city for the first test, his relief at milder temperatures in Perth knowing no bounds. “It’s like a day in Salthill,” he said.
But we lost. Again. Michael tried to look on the bright side of the series. “We enjoyed the two matches. We did. They were grand,” he gushed. Sean nodded enthusiastically. Ciaran Whelan had the look of a man who just wanted to go home to bed.
Saturday night, though, provided two little pick-me-ups after a week that rivalled only Robert Mugabe’s in the less-than-satisfying stakes, both Paddy Barnes and Carl Frampton winning their bouts in Belfast. And that Paddy triumphed over a fighter with the nickname “Hurricane”, while being saddled with the moniker “Leprechaun”, only heightened the quality of his achievement.
Perhaps the most fortunate man of the night was Paul Dempsey, our BT Sport host, who met Carl as he arrived at the SSE Arena and accompanied him to the door of his dressing room. At which point he said, “one last thing – you haven’t thought about falling flat on your face here in Belfast?” Carl, somehow, kept his fists in his pockets.
But Jamie Conlan lost, so the night had its own contribution to the general sense of sporting gloom. When he was cut in the second round, our commentator John Rawling struggled to see any way back. A bit like his ringside scribbles. “Our notes are splattered with blood!” Christ.
It was a week, then, when sport provided no blessed escape at all, you’d have ended up flicking over to the news for some light relief, small things like Brexit, Zimbabwe, North Korea and the like providing it.
In fact, since the start of September possibly only Ronnie Whelan calling our footballing right-back “Cyrus Crispy” has raised a smile. Other than that? Roll on December. Pronto.