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Thursday 27 July 2017

A little bit of magic left pitch with Micheal

Darragh McManus

Darragh McManus

MICHEAL O Muircheart-aigh's first radio broadcast was for a Railway Cup match in 1949. The interprovincial competition was a big deal back then.

Times change: the Railway Cup is about as relevant now as the Archbishop throwing in the ball. But Micheal, well -- things change but not that much. He's been a big deal in the GAA for six decades. He still matters.

Yesterday the legendary Kerry commentator made his last stand at the All-Ireland mike-stand, to see Cork beat Down. A lot was written about this game and this commentary since Micheal announced his retirement last week.

And a lot was written about it yesterday: an appreciation thread with more than 8,000 posts on Boards.ie, which continued past the final whistle. Dozens of tweets commenting on the commentary, most saying the same thing: they were watching with the TV on mute and Micheal up loud, the "quintessential GAA experience".

The final final: Con Murphy introduced Micheal "for the last time", ex-Dublin boss Tommy Carr riding shotgun, and we were off. From a critic's point of view, Micheal's 85th All-Ireland broadcast wasn't his most memorable -- no unforgettable turns of phrase, those "Teddy looks at the ball, the ball looks at Teddy" instant classics -- but it was still great; fluid, effortless, with a devotion that would be remarkable in a man half his 80 years.

And the flow of language was as wonderful as ever: the way he captures some grander, more profound element, lifting it above the simple recitation of facts to something approaching performance art. He was loquacious, lyrical, almost operatic, as he always is.

He gasped late into injury-time, as Cork struggled to keep their one-point lead, "Anything can happen here", and that's the beauty of Micheal: no matter how mundane the match, he always made you feel something spectacular was possible.

Micheal's final words mentioned how he saw his first final in 1949 and "they haven't lost the magic since".

No, but a little bit of magic left Croke Park yesterday evening.

Irish Independent

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