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Comment & Analysis

London’s battle for respect is far from over

GREEN GIANT: Lorcan Mulvey celebrates his goal against Sligo
GREEN GIANT: Lorcan Mulvey celebrates his goal against Sligo

THE Sunday Game of May 24 was a particular episode of that programme I did not want to miss.

Having been at Ruislip every weekend this year when there have been games on, I wasn’t around for by far the biggest day — the day the London footballers won a first Connacht championship game since 1977.

It was my sister’s wedding that weekend so that had to take priority.

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I couldn’t even follow the game live — the location was so deep into west Cork that the phones and broadband didn’t function.

I did manage to get word though and was delighted to hear the result.

Like a lot of people, I was proud of the achievement of a team that represents emigrants.

They had to overcome long odds and a lot of really unnecessary hassle from Croke Park to prevail.

So come 9.30pm on Sunday I was on the edge of a couch, tilted towards the TV in anticipation.

The London coverage was going to be first up. Great. Now I’d see all the scores, get a flavour of the atmosphere which must have been quite special. I’d get to see who played well and what tactics were employed.

Essentially I’d learn how London did the business on the day.

Or so I thought.

By 9.45pm or thereabouts the London coverage was over and I was very little the wiser.

They showed about four minutes of action — so little that the commentary wasn’t in the live style, just a recap instead.

Then there were a few after-game quotes, followed by a Skype link-up to Ruislip where manager Paul Coggins spoke while being flanked by the victorious players.

After that Eamonn O’Hara, a recently retired Sligo player, gave an extended critique of their boss Kevin Walsh and stated that he should resign.

All of this was unsatisfactory.

A figure of O’Hara’s stature certainly has the authority to comment on the Sligo set-up.

His forthright views on the manger were newsworthy, even if he does have an obvious axe to grind.

Certainly he should be given the platform to say his piece but not at the expense of a bit of coherent analysis on London’s biggest win since 1977.

This is what happened, which represents a complete failure to get to grips with the main story: London’s historic victory.

But it gets better… the Skype.
FARCE: Skype interview belittled the achievements of Paul Coggins (left) and Mark Gottsche
FARCE: Skype interview belittled the achievements of Paul Coggins (left) and Mark Gottsche

Jaysus, how did it come to this?

Remember when the London RTÉ bureau was closed and the line from Dublin 4 was that, when necessary, they could hire freelance crews over here.

Well, this rates as pretty important but clearly it was too much hassle to get a lad with even a basic TV camera out to do a live link — or even record the interviews with Des Cahill.

That would have been preferable to the blurred picture of a bunch of guys who were spoken to from Montrose as if they were aboard a shuttle orbiting Jupiter rather than in a big city an hour’s journey away.

And Des then decided to kick things off with a quip about the curtains in the background.

Were they in somebody’s upstairs flat, he wondered. Hilarious banter.

Coggins got a few words in and the whole thing was signed off in with something along the lines of, “Well ye’ll have a good night tonight anyway, what lads!?”

Ask yourself, would a victory by any other county be covered in such a sloppy, patronising manner?

Maybe if New York won a game it’d be the same. What’s it like there boys on the dark side of the moon? Can ye still get red lemonade and Curly Wurlys? … Ah ye’re gas.

To be fair, it’s not just RTÉ who have been at this craic. When dealing with emigrants in general, the Irish media are total suckers for do-you-miss-your-mammy journalism.

The questions these players have been fielding for the past couple of weeks are all: did you come over for work? Wasn’t much opportunity in Ireland was there? Will you come back home? Isn’t the GAA great for helping you settle in? Are you on the Skype?

Nobody ever asks them much about football. Very little about how they approach the game, how they prepare, how they have improved in spite of the many difficulties they have faced.

You’d have to wonder what they have to do to escape the quirky-human-interest-story-of-the-week box and be treated as what they are: ambitious Gaelic athletes who are representing themselves and their community with merit.

That respect, you feel, will only come through victory. Not just one victory in Ruislip, but victory in Ireland, in the Championship.

We hope that victory comes on Sunday in Carrick and, if it does, the London team are not treated like a novelty act, but as Paul Coggins described them in this paper at the start of this year: serious football men who play to win.
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Ronan Early
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Ronan Early is Sports Editor and columnist with The Irish Post. Follow him on Twitter @RonanEarly

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2 comments on “London’s battle for respect is far from over”

  1. Bill Lehane

    Very true about Irish media's outlook on emigration! :-)

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  2. Johnny Murphy

    Coggo and his gang have achieved -fair dues to them. Connacht council are raging. They have to pony up another €10,000 to pay for London in Connacht final which will have a poor attendance. Mayo to win by 30

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