It’s most likely the case that at least some viewers in the UK got their first viewing of GAA when Sky Sports had broadcast rights to same. Something which was unfortunately and wrongly discontinued.
Now, during the myriad lockdowns foisted on people because of Covid-19 and/or some of its by-products, as they so often do, TG4 filled the sporting void by showing some classic encounters from the past in our national games.
Chief among the exhibits was the first replay between Meath and Kildare in the Leinster Senior Football Championship of 1997. The match will forever be remembered as the day of the Jody Devine intervention.
With the ever-popular Ballinlough clubman – who certainly wouldn’t be fancied to rival William Tell in an accuracy contest – posting four mesmeric missiles to miraculously manipulate Meath back from the brink of an abyss.
Yet that’s not the reason why it appears before you tonight. No, it’s another phase of play which merits revisiting here. During the match, Meath were awarded two penalties. The first of which Trevor Giles buried with little fuss.
Perhaps surprisingly, the Andre Pirlo of Gaelic football went exactly the same route again. Only for the brilliant Kildare custodian of the time, Christy Byrne, to parry it away and Davy Dalton to drive the loose ball into Row Z of the Hogan Stand.
From the resultant sideline ball – the equivalent to a throw-in for soccer – it was Trevor who rose highest, guided the ball past Byrne and saved Meath’s bacon. Not for the first or last time either.
I write the above not for nostalgiac reasons, for once, but having read some of the perhaps predictably hysterical reaction to England’s World Cup demise at the hands of the French. And a penalty. Again.
You see, by some people’s alternative logic, because Harry Kane scored the first spot kick, he shouldn’t have taken the second one? No, me neither. Though the real twist to that idiotic mindset is, who was the naysayers’ alternative? Bukayo Saka. Yes, the same Bukayo Saka who these same assholes horrendously abused when he had the misfortune to misfire in the shootout against Italy last year.
Aside from the hypocricy of such thinking, it would’ve been a terrible insult to Kane. Not only because he had already scored from the spot on the night. Also, mind you, because the Tottenham forward’s goals had done so much to herd the Three Lions to where they were.
Almost inevitably, and immediately due to the double edged sword that is social media, speculation has turned to the future. Specifically, what the foreseeable holds for England manager Gareth Southgate.
Now, as a neutral looking in, it would be very easy to deduce the former central defender is a perfect fit for what Jose Mourinho once stupidly and ill-fittingly described Arsene Wenger – a specialist in failure. The missed penalty against Germany, relegation at club level and now, it could justifiably be argued, failure to get the best out of an obviously gifted bunch of players.
However, the latter part of that may be a little bit trigger happy by way of analysis. If you even take the case of Kane himself, he will ‘only’ be 33 by the time of the next World Cup, and the vast majority of his current teammates will only be hitting their peak. For that reason, you’d imagine it would be prudent for the FA to tie down Southgate’s services forthwith.
If, however, things go another way and the incumbent does decide to vacate his role, Eddie Howe would surely be the odds-on favourite to replace him. If the latter has any sense, he’ll stay where he is.