Sunday, 4 August 2013
Joe goes ballistic
Let me make one thing absolutely clear. Well, two or three things actually. First I like Joe Brolly. I like his mother Anne and his father Francie even more: I have a splendid pic of Anne on the wall in front of me as I write, smiling that beautiful smile of hers. And I remember Francie as a likeable, dark-haired darting forward playing soccer (yes, soccer) in St Columb's College in the mid-1950s. Good lineage, then.
There's a fresh quality to Joe himself - an originality dating back to those days when he used to blow kisses to the crowd as he wheeled away from scoring yet another point or goal for Derry. As a pundit, his clashes with Pat Spillane were always entertaining and sometimes informative. Yesterday he did a bit of highly successful or shamelessly self-serving punditry, depending on how you look at it.
Personally, I'm convinced his tirade against Tyrone footballers, management and in particular Sean Cavanagh was a blatant attempt to position himself as moral guardian of authentic GAA football. In short, Gaelic football's Eamon Dunphy.
The fact that he's a barrister shone through. Like actors, barristers are very good at switching on the display of a mood or an emotion. That's what Joe did yesterday. He came near to frothing at the mouth as he denounced Sean Cavanagh's foul on the Monaghan player McManus. The whole team had achieved "something rotten". They were "a total and absolute disgrace". In fact, what happened was "a total and absolute obscenity". "There is no other sport apart from Gaelic games where that is permitted". (Joe clearly has had limited exposure to Canadian ice-hockey). If Sean Cavanagh had produced a knife and plunged it into the Monaghan player's side Joe couldn't have sounded more disgusted.
I went off and made my bread between the Tyrone v Monaghan and the Dublin v Cork game. I half-assumed that Joe would have stalked out of the studio or at least have appeared huffy or out-of-sorts in his punditry on the Dublin-Cork game. Not a bit of it - he was cracking jokes, perfectly relaxed, his usual boyish self.
If you want to get a donkey's attention, they used to say (and mark - I'm not suggesting I approve), first hit it over the head with a post. If you want to get the public's attention as a sports pundit, first hit it over the head with a verbal post. Say something that will really annoy lots of people.
I said at the top of this piece that Joe's outburst was either highly successful or shamelessly self-serving. I was wrong. It was both.