Monday 20 January 2020

Eamonn Sweeney: More to punditry than parroting of clichés

The Last Word

Eamonn Sweeney

Eamonn Sweeney

That great fictional creation Rumpole of the Bailey said, approvingly, that "the glory of the advocate is to be opinionated, brash, fearless, partisan, hectoring, rude, cunning and unfair." It's a good description of Eamon Dunphy who, like Rumpole, has always had an irascible, larger-than-life quality about him.

It was easy to pick holes in Dunphy's analysis. As was said about the English literary critic FR Leavis, "He had the faintly comic air of having triumphantly demonstrated what has merely been strenuously asserted." Ronaldo and Platini turned out to be pretty good players in the end.

Yet in his insistence on the value of creativity and self-expression in football, in his refusal to join in the unqualified hero worship of Jack Charlton and above all in his determination that there be more to punditry than the parroting of clichés and conventional wisdom Dunphy did RTé a great deal of service.

He is what he is, he is his own special creation. I suppose TV3 have been on to him already.

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The Irish women's hockey team's overachievement at the World Cup in England has so far been of Croatian proportions. The second lowest-ranked team in the tournament became the first to qualify for the quarter-finals after a 3-1 victory over the USA and a 1-0 defeat of India. The win over the Americans included a brace of goals from Deirdre Duke. If ever a player deserved to shine in a major tournament, it's the 25-year-old Dubliner. As an under 16 she was ruled out of the European Championships after breaking her toe a week beforehand. And as an under 21 a broken nose ruled her out of the same event. Now she's made up for lost time.

In three previous World Cup appearances Ireland had never made the knockout stages so they are already in bonus territory.

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Mesut Ozil's claim that criticism of his performances by German fans stems from racism seems an odd one. His indolence in midfield has been just as fiercely criticised by Arsenal supporters for whom the question of whether the player is German or Turkish is presumably of little importance.

It's also strange that Ozil apparently feels no heed should be passed on his appearance alongside Turkish president Tayyip Erdogan during the country's recent election campaign. If you want to see how the autocratic Erdogan does business, look at what's happened to Turkey's greatest ever player, Hakan Sukur.

Two years ago Sukur, a one-time MP for Erdogan's party, turned independent, was charged with insulting the president on Twitter, an offence which can carry a four-year jail sentence. Soon afterwards a warrant was issued for his arrest for "being a member of an armed terror group." The man they called The Bull of the Bosphorus had to flee to America. Ozil's problems are pretty minor by comparison.

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