Tony O’Donoghue, dancing celebrities and Donald Trump

 

Wednesday

The Roscommon People has obtained secret damning recordings which reveal some further outrageous comments which RTE soccer correspondent Tony O’Donoghue has made off-air to Republic of Ireland manager Martin O’Neill.

  Last week, O’Neill sarcastically challenged O’Donoghue about an off-air comment the RTE man made prior to their interview post Ireland’s World Cup play-off collapse against Denmark. 

  O’Neill: “Just before we did our interview you said to me, ‘Hard luck’, just before we went on air. What did you mean by that?”

  We can now reveal that this isn’t the first time that O’Donoghue has made outrageous pre-interview comments to O’Neill. 

  According to our information, the RTE rotweiller-posing-as-reporter has also said ‘Good morning’ and ‘How are things?’ on previous occasions. There are also unconfirmed reports that O’Donoghue said ‘Hello’ to Roy Keane on one occasion.

  We asked O’Donoghue to explain this bizarre behaviour but he snapped back ‘How are things in Roscommon?’

  On a (slightly) serious note – because the above is obviously tongue in cheek/not true – what do we make of the latest box office interview involving O’Neill and O’Donoghue?

  Well, there have been times in the past when I’ve felt that O’Donoghue’s line of questioning (of O’Neill and some of his predecessors) was a touch provocative, and often creating the impression that the interviewer felt a need to reflect the inevitably outspoken views of the three wise men on the RTE panel (Dunphy, Giles and Brady).

  Inevitably, when O’Donoghue raised the views of the panel with the Ireland boss, sparks would fly. 

  But the bottom line is that O’Donoghue has a job to do – and he is certainly never rude or anything other than cordial.

  O’Neill’s job, or obligation in these interviews, is, I would suggest, to answer questions with an appropriate degree of dignity, not to mention respect for the Irish fans.

  O’Neill’s smart-assed conduct last Wednesday (24th of January) was the cause of yet another gripping but unpleasant chapter in the O’Donoghue/O’Neill saga.

  The Irish manager’s tone with the RTE man was petty, childish and rude.

  O’Neill’s new contract is likely to place him on over €1m a year in his role as Irish manager. In return for this, he surely ought to be accountable to the Irish public.

  He owes all of us a lot more respect than he’s been showing. He could start with Tony…

Thursday-Sunday

The word from Mullingar is that Matty Forde (38) is on fire. The word from California is that Tiger Woods (42) is doing very nicely indeed in his latest comeback tournament. And the word from Melbourne is that Roger Federer (36) hasn’t yet dropped a set as he marches towards another Australian Open Final.

  Thankfully, by Saturday evening, Michael Glavey’s had survived Matty’s magic, the Wexford ace unable (despite his very best efforts) to save his club, Kilanerin, in the All-Ireland Intermediate Football Club semi-final. Matty scored 0-7, but marvellous Michael Glavey’s prevailed.

  The Ballinlough club will have the best wishes of everyone in the county with them as they take on Moy of Tyrone in this Saturday’s All-Ireland Club Final.

  I kept an eye on Tiger’s progress via Twitter; he finished the tournament at – 3, relatively high up in a quality field. Apparently Tiger was very wayward off the tee, but his short game was brilliant. Crucially, he is pain-free. The golf experts will probably tell you that a brilliant short game is key to winning tournaments. Could the legend actually become a force again?

  Before I headed off for the Hyde on Sunday, I caught up with highlights of the Australian Tennis Open on BBC. I fell in love with tennis many, many years ago. When we were youngsters, BBC coverage of Wimbledon was eagerly awaited each summer. I’m pretty sure that it was the only tennis we ever got to see! As such, it was savoured in much the same way that we were in dreamland when the world snooker fortnight kicked off at The Crucible.

  As with the snooker, tennis had great characters then. Although Bjorn Borg (ice cool and always winning) ought to have been in the then-despised Steve Davis role, he was my favourite. John McEnroe, half-Irish and fully moody, was of course unmissable. Jimmy Connors was box office too, and do readers remember the charismatic, terrifically entertaining Romanian, Ille Nastase?

  Anyways, I digress. As the years went by, tennis lost its characters, the big servers took over, and I got on with my life.

  I’ve tuned in on and off over the years. Last year the watching world marvelled as Roger Federer, then 35, claimed a first Grand Slam title since 2012. On Sunday, I watched the BBC highlights, unaware of how the Australian Open Final had gone. Marin Cilic contributed to a good final, but Federer prevailed, winning in five sets, and becoming the first man to win 20 Grand Slam titles. He did so, at 36 years of age!

  I enjoyed the feats of the sporting oldies over recent days. I’m sure there are many more examples of ‘old-timers’ still defying the passing years.

Tuesday

In a barber shop today, I glanced at one of the tabloids, and was devastated to read that one of the most talked about contestants in RTE’s horrendous (I don’t watch it) Dancing With the Stars had been “very down for two days” after critical comments from one of the judges.

  Thankfully, it appears that three days on, he had picked himself up with the help of his dancing partner. 

  Is the world officially gone mad?

  I inadvertently waltzed into ten minutes of this over-hyped rubbish while channel-hopping on Sunday evening.

  If you’re a fan, good for you, but to me, it’s another example of RTE (TV3 are guilty of this too) shamelessly copying a UK format. I suppose you can’t blame them, given the guaranteed high ratings.

  What’s really pathetic about such shows is the absence of any free thinking; every aspect of the template has to be copied, clichés abound, and, needless to say, every opportunity for people to offer glowing compliments/display false modesty is enthusiastically grasped. Don’t start me on Nicky Byrne…

  Not content with foisting this on us on a Sunday night, RTE then allows Dancing with the Stars to infect several radio programmes midweek, as inane presenters and guests continue the hype.

  ‘Tune in this evening to find out what dance Marty will be doing on Sunday’ sort of stuff. 

  Please make it all go away!

  I love television, but when it comes to ‘Dancing with the Stars’, I’m reminded of that memorable Groucho Marx quote:

  “I must say I find television very educational. The minute somebody turns it on, I go to the library and read a good book”.

Trump in statesmanlike shock… will normal service resume?

Tuesday/Wednesday

It’s 1.50 am and that relatively topical Trump chap’s doing his favourite ‘Look, I’ve got gravitas’ facial expression. 1.50 am, what to do? I decide to stick with it. Maybe I thought it wasn’t safe to go to sleep. Who knows what might happen? After all, the last time I was watching Donald Trump on television this late at night/early morning, he was still (just) a reality television star; when the world woke up the next morning, he was President-elect of the United States.

  Now, Sky News is live from Capitol Hill, excitedly counting down to Donald Trump’s imminent and first State of the Union address.

  There’s footage of the President leaving the White House, copy of speech in hand as he sits into ‘The Beast’, the nickname given to Trump’s Cadillac State car.

  Moments later, the massive cavalcade arrives at Capitol Hill, and I’m hooked. I stay with it for a further hour and a half, watching Trump’s address in full.

  And to this viewer, the guy delivered a very impressive speech! The whole spectacle was of course razzamatazz as much as anything else. Trump received numerous standing ovations, almost all of them led by Republicans, Democrats occasionally joining in (albeit in stiff upper lip mode).

  I would go as far as to say that Trump was statesmanlike; it was a measured, well delivered speech during which he held a few olive branches out to Democrats. They still looked like they felt they were being addressed by an imposter. Trump’s central message (if you can believe it) was that (a) America comes first and (b) he wants to unify the country.

  Trump was quite convincing as he listed off his administration’s achievements, claiming a huge increase in employment, and looming wage increases arising from historic tax cuts. He was firm on immigration – much to the disdain of many poker-faced Democrats in the audience – but adopted a softer tone than usual.

  Quite honestly, if you didn’t know how much of a circus his chaotic first year has resembled, you may well think this is a statesmanlike, firm, fair and maybe even impressive President!

  All I’m saying is, for all his faults (and not infrequent obnoxious behaviour), he’s some operator.

  Whether this generally well-received address has a hope in hell of acting as a turning point in terms of Trump’s general conduct and divisive relations with Democrats/half of America/much of the world, remains to be seen.