THE myth is that Gaelic football analysis is now more in depth than it has ever been before. The truth is that it has never been more empty. False politeness. Q&As off the shelf, with everyone saying the same things. Clichés instead of thoughts. Bland statements of the obvious.
I watched the RTE coverage on Sunday and that was when it struck me that football analysis is now entirely superficial. No passion. No sense of the great traditions of our games. No sense of glory. No feel for the bigger picture. No anger. No entertainment. False discussions that bear no resemblance to the reality of how we really discuss football. It is a sham.
Laughter is forced and cued by unfunny remarks, Joanne’s facial expression telling the pundits when it is time to giggle. Like laughing at the bishop’s jokes. There is a time to laugh, there is a time for serious expressions. The upshot is a complete lack of originality, as though they were following a very dull script. As Eamonn Fitzmaurice was droning on, a friend of mine from the town texted to say, “*** me Brolly, I wouldn’t be surprised if Fitzmaurice started into a decade of the rosary.” It has, in truth, become rather priestly.
Joanne asks stock questions, feigning interest in the answer. The pundits answer safely, resorting to the well known book, “Nutshells for GAA punditry.” It is all very weird and unnatural.
Lee Keegan, who is (outside of punditry) a charismatic and fascinating character, selected Roscommon’s Ciaran Murtagh as the Man Of The Match. Later that night, when the general consensus was that Damien Comer should have gotten it, Lee tweeted this:
“The MOTM today was selected at a certain stage in the second half. The two most prominently (sic) figures, Comer/Murtagh. Comer made a block & scored 4th point & in fact should have been selected for MOTM. Apologies Galway people, ye have a serious team.”
This, naturally, prompted me to worry about Lee. Firstly, publicly apologising for his Man of the Match selection. Worse, licking up to the Galway ones by saying, “Ye have a serious team.” To be honest, I nearly vomited. Imagine me apologising to Sean Cavanagh for not selecting him as MOTM. Or publicly tweeting that Tyrone have a great team? Imagine Philly McMahon apologising to Kerry people?
Apart from the embarrassment this caused to Ciaran Murtagh, who must feel like a right dick with that award sitting on his mantelpiece, it is a perfect snapshot of the falseness and eagerness to please/play safe that has infected the RTE studio, where everyone is looking over their shoulder.
By the time I was sacked, there was a truly epic arse licking contest going on there. No loyalty. No sense of integrity. No camaraderie. Colm and Pat soldiered on for a while, but hated it as it was clear they were no longer wanted. Too opinionated. Too passionate. Too prone to say things they actually meant.
As we watched the fun distraction of talking about football being turned into a soulless chore, the glamorous brunette said, “They should bring back Pat. That place is like a morgue without him.” People complained about Pat. They gave out about him and were enraged or delighted. His contributions made for a lively debate at the tea break on Mondays. He came to clubs all over the country and got standing ovations. Drank pints, chatted with everyone, told great stories from the glory days and left us all feeling a bit better about life.
What is happening now in the public broadcaster’s studio is a dystopia. A dull travesty. If you took Wee Marty out of it, it would have the atmosphere of the moon.