Joe Brolly: 'The disease of balance has almost completely conquered honest discourse, in politics, life and sport'
'DurCan off his right boot. It's a dangerous one. In and around the house. GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAL. For Mayo. Diarmuid O'Connnnnnnnnorrrrrrrr. What about that Kerry?" roared Michael D McAndrew into my headset.
"Where in the name of Jesus Christ did that come out of?" screamed Martin Carney, his co-commentator on MidWest.
The two men then continued screaming incoherently for the next 30 seconds or so ("Captain Fantastic does it again / Mayo want this / We all want this." etc) until a Kerry free was awarded and Michael D took an audible deep breath. "Now, we can just measure ourselves for a moment Martin, take stock."
The stock-taking didn't last long. A moment later came this:
"Andy Moran. Clever ball over the top to Ciarán Treacy. Ciarán Treacy. Ciarán Treacy. Ciarán Treacy. GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAL. GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAL. GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAL."
"Wonderful. Wonderful. Wonderful." Carney roared, "There are two Mayo players out on the pitch making love." "Cometh the hour cometh the man," Michael D said, which could easily be misinterpreted. I was at the game and I can confirm that at no time did I see any homosexual copulation on the pitch. Not even a brief encounter.
"What in the name of Jesus Christ is happening out there?" Martin shouted a moment later, his voice reaching a high C that Pavarotti would have been proud of in his prime.
I scanned the pitch with high excitement, but again, all I could see was two teams playing football. A few seconds later the whistle went and the two men's communications rose to such a high pitch that only dogs could have understood them. Martin returned to earth after a moment, voice breaking with emotion, saying, "Pass me the valium Michael D."
Never was valium more appropriately prescribed. Listening to these lovers of the game saying what they really meant on air was riveting.
The disease of balance has almost completely conquered honest discourse, in politics, life and sport. "No I'm sorry Joe, I'm going to have to pull you up there. You can't say that about Galway. The entire population of Galway isn't in the studio to defend itself. Had we known you were going to say that, we would have arranged for them to be here so they could give the contrary view."
"Now Colm, I'm going to stop you there. Saying that Meath played well today sounds like bias and although we had hoped to have a balance monitor from the United Nations in studio, that hasn't been possible. We can however talk about the number of handpasses, or turnovers . . ."
"Sorry Tomás, I don't think you can say it was a deliberate foul. We do however have a video that one viewer has sent in of little kittens playing on the lawn, dressed in Leitrim jerseys. How adorable."
The MidWest lads didn't utter a single bland politically correct comment in 80 glorious minutes. No-one was currying favour with an electorate or looking over their shoulders worrying about what they should or shouldn't say. No-one gave a damn about balance. Imagine standing in a bar saying the sort of condescending, sugary stuff to your mates that is becoming the norm on the national airwaves?
"The Waterford footballers played very well and certainly didn't come up to make up the numbers. Wexford played very well too and both teams did their best. It was just unfortunate that one team had to lose but I suppose it's the taking part that is important Joe." To which the only possible response is, "Have you lost your fucking mind?"
Then, there is the managers' view, an automatic response system that causes all sentient human beings to switch off as soon as they hear the first few words. "We will take the positives from today. We will go back, see what we have done well. See what we haven't done as well as we would like. The important thing from our point of view is that we take one game at a time. The lads are all focused on being the best they can be, individually and collectively." Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.
None of this should be taken to mean that little kittens aren't adorable . . .
Sunday Indo Sport