Ian O'Doherty

Wednesday 23 July 2014

For those about to squawk. We salute you

Published 17/10/2013|04:00

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Man of the people: We couldn't live without Dunphy

If he didn't exist, and there are plenty of people who probably wish that was the case, we'd have to invent Eamon Dunphy – footballer, raconteur, bon viveur, singer and conscience of the nation...

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In fact, the pundit is a bit like an Irish Wurzel Gummidge, with a different head for every occasion.

He has been back doing what he does best for the last 48 hours with his rather pointless but extremely enjoyable bust-up with Noel King.

The verbals between the pair shouldn't come as much of a surprise – Dunphy is an even more divisive figure in footballing circles than in the wider public arena. In fact, the boondocks of the local Irish football scene have always been bitchier than Paris Fashion Week, with an ever-higher percentage of divas. And in Dunphy, we have the diva's diva, who can flounce with best of them.

It has been impossible not to feel sorry for Noel King in the wake of his snarling, defensive interview with Tony O'Donoghue the other night.

O'Donoghue is easily the best sports interviewer on the RTÉ books and is a football obsessive so he probably enjoyed the spat with King, even if it did seem as if he was merely collateral damage in the row between King and Dunphy – although one can't help but wonder if O'Donoghue watched the playback of Dunphy's defence of his virtue and integrity and winced.

After all, it has long been joked that the only thing worse than Dunphy coming after you with his proverbial hatchet looking like the journalistic equivalent of Jack Nicholson in The Shining is actually having him fight your corner and the deceptively genial Cork man hardly needs Dunphy to stick up for him.

But the whole thing was, in its uniquely RTÉ way, quite glorious and once King made the mistake of not turning the other cheek and simply pointing out that getting three points and a 3-4 goal difference after two games, including Germany, was a perfectly fine record, the fangs were bared.

In fact, proceedings began to take on the appearance of an afters party at a football awards do when the participants loosen their ties and start to invite each other out to the car park to sort the issue out like men.

It was, I suppose, an example of emotion over logic, where the cordite whiff of scores being settled wafted in the air.

In fact, you could argue that it was all vaguely ridiculous and hysterical and stupid.

It was all of the above. And it reminded us of why we still, despite ourselves, love RTÉ's football coverage. Can you imagine that on the BBC, Sky or God help us, BT Sport?

King may well regret his post-match performance, but the chances are he was happy to stick one back to the lads he refers to as a comedy panel.

In fact anybody who watched the equivalent of a bunch of middle-aged men slapping each other furiously and shouting "No, you are!" would have know that they were witnessing one of those TV moments where you immediately press record so you could watch back at your leisure, examining every manic twitch and outrage at secret slights. And then there was the brooding presence of Richie Sadlier, looking like some young pretender from Game Of Thrones, simply biding his time.

Inevitably, we've seen the predictable accusations that the panel only behaved the way they did for ratings. And that, when you think of it, is about as stupid as accusing a band of only making music to sell records. It's what they do.

Dunphy may be a monumental ego with a weird tendency to drop everything and tilt at the nearest windmill for no apparent reason. But this difficult, petulant, frequently ridiculous man is one of the good guys and we should be grateful to him for always wearing his heart on his sleeve. Even if his brain sometimes seems to have gone walkies.

Now, if only there was a way I could find out more about what makes this complicated soul tick...

Oh wait. There is. And it's in the shops now.

Handy, that.

LOCK THE VOTE! LOCK THEM ALL UP

The current row over allowing prisoners to vote in the UK has, as you would expect, thrown up some reliably deranged contributions.

On the one side, it has attracted the kind of people who think UKIP is too soft and want to see prisoners breaking bricks with their head for 18 hours a day.

On the other we have the emoters, who think prison should be a place of education and rehabilitation.

In fact, one campaigner for prisoners' rights has said that if they don't get the vote then: "They will feel further marginalised and excluded from society."

Which is, I thought, exactly what prisons were meant to do.

But before we get too sniffy in Ireland, it might not be such a bad idea.

And by that I mean I will pay good money to watch an Irish politician go canvassing in the 'Joy and knocking on cells saying: "Is this is bad time or do you have a minute to spare?"

Yeah, that could be fun...

AH BLESS, THE LITTLE BOY IS ALL GROWN UP

Another day, another row involving Justin Bieber, with the pint-sized pillock starting a fight with a DJ in Seoul last week.

According to the alleged victim, Michael Wood, Bieber started the fight before running behind his security detail, one of whom then warned the DJ that: "Now you're messing with a real nigger."

Shouldn't that security dude have been warned against using such language in front of poor Justin?

After all, 12-year-olds are so impressionable at that age.

I'd say he probably punches like a girl but Katie Taylor might take exception and kick my head in...

Irish Independent

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