John Boland: Epic effort ... if a little robotic
THE Sky Sports people must have been fuming that the game they opted to broadcast as their first GAA offering was such a monumental mismatch – thereby requiring their anchor duo and in-studio pundits to burst verbal blood vessels trying to pretend otherwise.
That, of course, is the Sky way – to insist on the epic nature of their chosen sporting battles even when clear evidence to the contrary is there for everyone to see.
Still, there was no denying the smooth professionalism with which Saturday evening's Kilkenny-Offaly game was handled – although curiously, no concessions were made to those Sky viewers from beyond these shores who mightn't have had the first clue about hurling.
And just as in Sky's coverage of other sports, there was something almost robotic about the overall visual presentation, which was so streamlined as to border on the impersonal – though Rachel Wyse and Brian Carney made for engagingly chirpy co-hosts.
And if pundits Ollie Canning and Jamesie O'Connor looked weirdly like twins in their matching suits, ties and haircuts, they brought a real passion and insider knowledge – O'Connor especially impressive in mastering the pause-and-replay visual gimmickry so beloved of Sky.
Pity about the match, though.
LOVELY HURLING: Jamesie O'Connor declaring "I'm a schoolteacher" as he paused the replay screen at yet another Kilkenny goal, and said of the tardy Offaly defenders he'd just highlighted: "Now if these guys were going to arrive in my classroom late, late, late..."
WELL WIDE: The strenuously uplifting promotional voiceover at the start, which was all about "the endless hours of pain and sacrifice" and "the pride of representing your county". Did they think they were making an AIB ad?