Thursday 25 December 2014

It’s kicking off for Sky - and on the pitch too

Published 16/06/2014 | 02:30

Illustration by Tim Cogan.
Illustration by Tim Cogan.

Some of us were worried there for a while. We thought that the Sky deal might have an inhibiting effect on the gaels, that they would become self-conscious and soft.

There was a moment indeed during The Sunday Game when a Dublin player in a post-match interview said the words “going forward”. One felt that a line had been crossed, that a new anxiety had arrived to join all of our other anxieties, that we knew we were being watched.
And then in three moves the GAA showed what it was made of, killing off any fears that it was going to become just another Sky sport.

First we had the grand opening which featured Kilkenny slaughtering Offaly, a match which, like so many matches involving Kilkenny, had no competitive element at any stage.
You could imagine our new friends looking at this with mounting bafflement: “Oy Paddy, we do love it, your ’urling, but next time mate, could we have a facking game?”

Then the men of the North made their statement, with the players of Armagh and Cavan throwing themselves into a fantastically ugly brawl before the game, a reasonable enough reaction in Ulster gaelic football terms to the fact that the players of Armagh had lined up behind the Cavan flag for the pre-match parade.

If anyone had been wondering whether Paddy was going to sanitise his “product” in order to please the tender sensibilities of John Bull, here was the answer. And to be fair, by showing the brawl several times the following day on Sky Sports News, you could say that Sky got what they came for too.

And a third act of old-fashioned gaelic perversity could be seen in the Dublin v Laois game which featured one of the most beloved of all gaelic traditions, the one in which both teams are wearing roughly the same colours. (I have mentioned this to them before but you know what? It’s almost as if they’re not listening to me.)

Anyway I quite like it, personally. I just suspect that if Sky had chosen this as their opening game, they would have insisted in their pedantic way that this was “bang out of order, mate” and that Laois, the away team, should wear an “away” strip. 
And hopefully the men of Laois and Dublin, like the men of Armagh lining up in the wrong place, would have maintained a territorial stance.

Blue is the colour of these counties, different shades of blue to avoid confusion, which happens anyway. Indeed the level of basic confusion caused by all this blue-on-blue action probably kept Laois in the game until Dublin finally got the hang of it. Going forward.

********


WHILE a multitude of voices were trying to find the words which could properly describe the monstrosities of the Irish gulag, we learned that RTE had dropped an item from the present series of The Savage Eye because they felt it would “very quickly generate the potential for justifiable offence from viewers of the Christian faith.”

David McSavage, the driving force of The Savage Eye, has been deeply offended by the decision to cut the piece, but that is apparently irrelevant.

This man — who has given RTE a programme that is actually funny, this brilliant creative spirit, can be offended with impunity.

His sensitivities can be swept aside, his work can be discarded, he can like it or lump it. But our old friends, the “viewers of the Christian faith”, must not have the tranquility of their lives disturbed. Even something which “generates the potential” for offending them, must be thrown away.

The sketch, which McSavage himself released online, features three comedy nuns gazing at a comedy Jesus on the cross in the style of the women in the Diet Coke ad.

I have no doubt that it would cause offence to “viewers of the Christian faith”, and equally I have no doubt that their “justifiable” feelings on such matters and on any similar matter which may arise at any time during the next five thousand years should, as a matter of principle, be ignored.

For two weeks there is 
dark talk of our ancient deference to organised religion, and then we’re censoring comedians for fear of “Christian” reprisals. 
As the Sky commentator might say to the players of Dublin and Laois, which side are you on? 


Gaelic Games (Sky Sports)

The Savage Eye (RTE Two)

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