Friday 27 March 2015

Radio: A shower of good sports and Roses

Eilis O'Hanlon

Published 24/08/2014 | 02:30

Derval O'Rourke urged more people to support women's sport.
Derval O'Rourke urged more people to support women's sport.

What's this? A woman on Newstalk? Presenting an actual show on an actual weekday, during daylight hours when loads of people are listening? Shurely shome mishtake?

Ciara McDonagh did such an excellent job standing in for Jonathan Healy on Lunchtime that you'd almost be forgiven for thinking that women were capable of presenting radio shows on a regular basis without bringing about the end of the world as we know it.

Still, let's not get carried away. Like most of the schedule, Newstalk Breakfast remains an all-male zone too, though the show is such a refreshing antidote to the humourless, politically-correct borefest that is Morning Ireland that we'll forgive them this lapse.

Last week, as people shouting at one another over abortion dominated the debate, Shane Coleman and Chris O'Donoghue were a beacon of sense, rightly concentrating, in the current case dominating the headlines, on the "twelve missing weeks" between the woman in question discovering she was pregnant and the time she was assessed by psychiatrists. Until those weeks are filled, it's hard to see what morals can be drawn from the story.

The issue of how women's sport is covered in the Irish media popped up again on Newstalk's Off The Ball and was handled with a measured intelligence sadly lacking elsewhere. Neither Joe Molloy nor hurdler Derval O'Rourke could really see why That Article caused such a fuss, and O'Rourke rightly put the onus back on women who wanted to see women's sport make headway to "not get up on our high horse and get indignant" but to start "getting out and watching" it. Both wanted to see more coverage of women's sport on air, because otherwise how can it ever become popular in the first place? At the same time, they agreed that if women's sport wants to be equal, then it needs to take the same level of criticism which footballers, for example, have to endure when they fall short. As Joe said, some people are "almost afraid" to say they don't like women's rugby in case they're accused of being sexist.

Having heard a bruising analysis from Kevin Kilbane on Tuesday's Off The Ball of someone called Wilshire who apparently plays for something called Arsenal, it's hard not to agree that some of the coverage of women's sports can be a little patronising at times. More "well done, girls" than "not good enough, lads." Equality cuts both ways.

Finally, the annual cheesy waste of airtime that is the Rose of Tralee can be forgiven, this year, at least, for providing the inspiration for a rare funny Gift Grub sketch on Today FM's Ian Dempsey Breakfast Show, as this year's Roses were unveiled to the waiting audience. There was "the one who's not much craic… the one who's too much craic… the over-achieving Rose… and the Rose we all fear the most. 'Daithi, I'm going to sing a song that I wrote myself…'" Followed by the obligatory Psycho shower music. How scarily true that was.

Sunday Independent

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