Friday 23 February 2018

Placing substance over style fails to put a dampener on our Super Saturday

TV view

Eamon Dunphy
Eamon Dunphy
Marie Crowe

Marie Crowe

The rain spilled down for most of yesterday afternoon, the outdoors was an uninspiring place where few people wanted to be. It was one of those days where the sky and the roads were the same dull grey colour.

The type of day that sends people to the comfort of the television at the earliest opportunity to bemoan how much better a country Ireland would be if you could just put a roof on it.

Except for once no-one was talking about the weather or complaining about being stuck indoors for the evening. In fact there was no place we'd all rather be because we had an appointment with our screens.

This appointment had been excitedly anticipated since it emerged that the Republic of Ireland's play-off clash against Denmark would follow the Irish rugby team's opening November international against South Africa.

And so at 5pm a feast of sport began with RTÉ's rugby coverage and as the opening credits started to roll, all felt right in the world. A marathon evening of sport was underway and sports fans both dedicated and ­fleeting rubbed their hands in glee. Fires were lit, tea was made, and pints were ordered.

The RTÉ rugby panel wasted no time in drawing people in as they bounced from topic to topic, covering plenty including Simon Zebo's omission from the Ireland squad and panellist Ronan O'Gara's connection with the vacant coaching role at the Canterbury Crusaders. There was no shortage of meat for those at home to chew on.

But when the teams emerged, the fireside debates were quickly replaced by frustrated outbursts as the kit clash irritated viewers and they took to Twitter to air their criticisms. Not even the Ryle Nugent's familiar tones could soothe the pain.

At half-time there was a nice cross-over between the rugby and the football and Daire O'Brien whetted the appetite for what was to come when he brought team news from Copenhagen.

And at full-time, moments after Stockdale had gone over the line in spectacular fashion, O'Brien informed us that we would be momentarily heading to Denmark.

We barely had time to catch our breaths, let alone process the performance, when we were catapulted to Denmark. Goodbye to one Daire hello to another, Darragh Maloney. Excitement levels heightened.

When the pictures from Copenhagen faded, Maloney and his panel popped up and it was straight down to business. Calum O'Dowda's inclusion was the main talking point; shots of his skills were followed by ones of Christian Eriksen, a sense of apprehension built. The Tony O'Donoghue interview with Martin O'Neill helped settle the nerves; there was no time for dissecting the manager's views before George Hamilton took his cue.

And then 45 minutes of whatever the opposite of edge-of-the-seat stuff is.

One of these teams is going to go through to the World Cup, said Duff at half-time. A man of his experience wasn't going to miss the blatant fact that these two teams play a similar 'style', if that's the right word. One manager will be slaughtered for the way they play, the other will be praised, he added. It simply depends on who wins on Tuesday.

A passionate Eamon Dunphy was less circumspect. "We've been terrible," he said. "It's rubbish," he added, in case we were in any doubt. As far as he was concerned, the Danes were terrible and "if they beat us and go to the World Cup we'll be crying for six months, and we'll be crying again when we watch them next summer in the finals."

After a series of second-half saves from Darren Randolph the game finished on a bit of a high, but Dunphy quickly put a pin in the balloon. "A nil-all wasn't a great result because if we draw one-all at home we are gone."

Right, can someone point me in the direction of the International Rules?

Sunday Indo Sport

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