Paul Healy’s Week

THURSDAY

Won’t find it now!

Community update: If you observe any young/young middle-aged/older middle-aged parents looking a touch more stressed than usual in the general Roscommon area around this time, the advice is: Be nice, be patient, and if you really need to know the code, it’s ‘Preparing for the Confirmation, is it?’

 

FRIDAY  

Garygate

I’m old enough to remember prolific goalscorer Gary Lineker’s playing days. Famously, he was never booked in his entire 16-year career. That’s changed now, with his employers, the BBC, issuing a straight red in response to Lineker’s tweet on the UK government’s asylum policy. Lineker will miss this Saturday’s Match of the Day. Over to VAR…

 

SATURDAY

Grand ambitions

A thrilling rugby game in Murrayfield, with Ireland finding an extra gear in the second half to overcome a talented Scotland team. All eyes now on the Aviva this Saturday, where Ireland should claim the Grand Slam.

 

SUNDAY  

Roasting O’Rourke

Headline on the front page of today’s Sunday Independent: ‘Brolly and Dunphy on Lineker v the BBC’. It made me wonder if George Hook’s mobile was on silent on Saturday.

On an inside page, Brolly at least managed to not make it all about him! Having blasted the Tories, he did allude to Twitter talk of his decidedly less controversial departure from The Sunday Game, adding a great punchline: “I only got sacked. Spare a thought for poor Colm O’Rourke, who ended up managing Meath”.

 

SUNDAY  

A deserved Oscar

I was pleased to see Jamie Lee Curtis win the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. She was brilliant alongside John Cleese in A Fish Called Wanda back in 1988. Jamie even survived an exchange with Ryan Tubridy on the Late Late Show a few months ago. Her late dad, the great Tony Curtis (sensational with Jack Lemmon, Marilyn Monroe and others in ‘Some Like It Hot’ ) made a memorable appearance on the Late Late Show in the Gay Byrne era. (Well done also to all Irish nominees, including the two Irish winners).

 

MONDAY

BBC v Gary

Good news. Gary Lineker’s yellow/red card, issued by BBC bosses who had no contingency plan in place, has been rescinded. With public opinion mostly on his side, and the BBC very much on the defensive, the star sports’ presenter has struck a deal with the hierarchy. He will be back in the Match of the Day hot-seat this Saturday night. Ever the one for a wry comment, I’m predicting Gary will open the programme with a droll ‘Well, how was your week?’

The explosive controversy centred on a controversial tweet which Lineker posted, in a personal capacity of course. Referencing the UK government’s controversial asylum policy, Lineker likened the language of Suella Braverman & Co. to the language used on the same topic in Germany in the early 1930s. The BBC took the view that Lineker had breached its impartiality guidelines, hence their decision to ask him to step aside pending an agreement on future social media posting. A host of BBC stars ‘downed tools’ in solidarity with Lineker.

For what it’s worth, I’d have thought sports presenters such as Gary Lineker should be free to post on social media in a personal capacity. For now, peace has broken out. However, the BBC has been damaged by this controversy, not least with a lingering perception that they are kowtowing to the Tory government. The BBC needs to sort out their social media guidelines and avoid getting caught offside so easily in the future.

 

MONDAY  

All shook up

Maybe spare a rueful thought for veteran English broadcaster and journalist David Dimbleby. It’s only a few months since his series, ‘Days that Shook the BBC’, aired. Controversies covered included Martin Bashir’s Panorama special with Princess Diana, the Jimmy Savile abuse scandal, the Prince Andrew interview, etc.

As David and his team wrapped on that impressive series, little did they know that new BBC-shaking days were just around the corner, i.e. the Gary Lineker  impartiality row that currently – somewhat bizarrely – has the battered Beeb in meltdown.

 

TUESDAY

‘Honey’ is sweet

The Cheltenham Racing Festival began today, with the Irish making the customary repeat visits to the winner’s enclosure. It was highly emotional to see the great Honeysuckle, with the magnificent Rachael Blackmore in the saddle, sign off with another thrilling victory. “She read the script” trainer Henry de Bromhead said afterwards, referring to Honeysuckle, not Rachael.

The occasion was steeped in high emotion. It was Honeysuckle’s farewell, and therefore quite the fairytale finish. But the tragedy that struck the de Bromhead family last September was the deeply emotional backdrop to today’s race. Their 13-year-old son, Henry, died after a racing accident in Kerry. The boy’s dad spoke very movingly today of the incredible support the family continues to receive.

Rachael Blackmore spoke for everyone when she said: “We all wish a very special kid could be here today. He’s watching down on us”.

 

TUESDAY  

Big guy scores 5!

Many years ago when we played in the school yard – some as yet unborn genius still to invent the mobile phone – we’d lose patience if a big fella lorded it, dribbling past everyone and banging in goals for fun.

At 5-0 or 6-0, someone would inevitably mutter that it was time to “switch things around” – either that or jump on the big guy.

Erling Haaland may not dribble like Messi or hit free-kicks/score headers quite like Ronaldo, but Manchester City’s Norwegian giant is a phenomenon. Many of his goals may be from close range (so what?) but – make no mistake – he is a brilliant footballer, blessed with phenomenal positional sense/movement, strength, power and devastating scoring instincts.

Not only did Haaland score five goals in a Champions League game tonight (against RB Leipzig), he put them away in a 35-minute spell! (Manager Pep Guardiola, in a touching humanitarian gesture(!) replaced Haaland with a sub with half an hour still to play).

Five goals by the big guy in 35 minutes? Definitely time to ‘switch things around’…