RTE could fill void with ‘Greatest players/matches’

 I see where TG4 (true to form) is responding to the complete absence of live GAA action by showing classic old matches over the coming weeks. 

  ‘GAA Man’ and ‘GAA Woman’, apart from worrying about their health, their families and their incomes during this crisis, have the added nightmare to contend with…i.e. there being no GAA games to play, attend or even to watch on TV. 

  The TG4 initiative began last Sunday when they screened the 2014 All-Ireland Hurling final between Kilkenny and Tipperary. 

  This Sunday (29th), the featured match will be the 1980 All-Ireland Hurling final between Limerick and Galway (1.50 pm). The first football classic to be featured will be the 2013 All-Ireland Football semi-final between Kerry and Dublin, which will be shown on Monday, 6th of April. 

  Maybe RTE could go further and begin a weekly series whereby some guests (from their homes) discuss/select the greatest players and/or matches of all time. 


Diego, different class

 Channel 4 screened ‘Diego Maradona’ on Saturday, and what a gripping and entertaining watch it was. Sports fans are really missing the live action at this time. This was a terrific documentary which looked back on the life and times of the troubled Argentinian superstar. 

  Much of the film focussed on Maradona’s time with Napoli, where he led an unfashionable and unfancied team to glory. 

  Featured too was his dominance of the 1986 World Cup, when an unstoppable Maradona led Argentina to victory. Along the way, he scored two of the most famous goals in history – in the one match. Nice for Argentina that their opponents were England! 

  First came the ‘Hand of God’ handball goal, quickly followed by perhaps one of the greatest solo goals ever seen, Maradona picking up the ball on the halfway line and dribbling past at least half of the England team before rounding Peter Shilton and scoring. The commentary (for RTE) of Jimmy Magee was almost as iconic as that of the Argentinian commentator: “Different class, different class!”

  This superb documentary went on to cover Maradona’s drug-fuelled downfall, charting his sad fall from grace. What helped to make the programme so memorable was the stunning footage of Maradona through the decades…as a kid (born in slums), later in Napoli, then his World Cup exploits. There was remarkable footage too of Maradona amongst family, friends and hangers-on, some of the latter of the undesirable variety. It was beautiful – and sad. 

  At his best, Diego Maradona was an incredible footballer, quite possibly the greatest ever. Amazing player. Amazing documentary. Different class.  


Not Keane on Shearer’s pettiness!

One of the BBC’s approaches to filling the sports’ void was to broadcast a Match of the Day podcast (last Saturday night, in the usual MOTD slot) in which Gary Lineker asked Ian Wright and Alan Shearer to select their top ten captains of the Premier League era.

  While any such distraction, however frivolous, is to be welcomed, I thought the programme was a bit disappointing. It won’t be featuring at any awards show. Three soccer legends engaging in a fun debate in one of their kitchens (Lineker’s) ought to be entertaining fare, but Shearer has little of interest to say, and while Wright is very likeable, he’s no Eamon Dunphy. Lineker’s a decent bloke too, but too bloke-y on occasions like this. 

  My main issue with a dull and unpolished programme was Shearer’s daft and probably spiteful decision to place Roy Keane an insulting fourth in his list of 10 Greatest Captains. Shearer and Keane had a number of run-ins in their playing days, right down to fisticuffs. Shearer doesn’t like Keane (in fairness, that lack of love is presumably mutual). Under duress from Lineker and Wright, Shearer eventually promoted Keane to second (behind John Terry), but it was too late to withdraw the insult! 

  To me, Keane was the obvious choice as No. 1 (Wright agreed, Lineker went 1: Terry; 2: Keane). The Cork man was a magnificent warrior, everything a captain should be, and besides, he won the most honours of modern-day captains, leading Manchester United to unprecedented success. Manchester United are the most successful club in Premier League history, and Keane captained them with merciless magnificence during that glory era. Debate over, Mr. Shearer!