Examiner Sports column, 4 April 2008.

April 4, 2008

Uncomfortable
bedfellows, but politics and
sport do mix

POLITICS and sport, eh? They just don’t mix. Only they do, as you
can see elsewhere in the newspaper
today.

Whether it’s Waterford hurlers Ken McGrath and Michael Brick Walsh supporting calls to upgrade Waterford IT to university status, or India soccer captain Bhaichung Bhutia refusing to carry the Olympic torch as a protest against Chinese activity in Tibet, sports and politics have always mixed. Maybe as uneasy bedfellows, or even as squabbling bedfellows, each trying to hog the duvet, but they’ve been rambling around in the same four-poster for a long time.

Your correspondent in fact, once sat on the headboard of this particular piece of bedroom furniture (note: bed metaphor comes to an abrupt end here). In a previous life this column worked in Leinster House, where sport and politics got entangled
together many a time.

There was the occasion, at a parliamentary committee, at which then Minister for
Finance Ruairi Quinn got impaled on an extended football metaphor which rambled on for several minutes: various Exchequer initiatives were compared to covering
centre-halves and overlapping full-backs
interacting in a sort of Dutch total football way, but with taxation strategies, until the economic geniuses of the Department of
Finance behind him were flicking through back issues of Shoot to work out what he was saying.

There was another occasion when your correspondent had a lengthy debate with a person now quite senior in the current
cabinet about intercounty U21 hurling teams of the early eighties.

The debate took place in an establishment neither of us, frankly, would wish to be
associated with now that age and sense have made cowards of us both, but if you have never had a man noted for his political acumen explain how Offaly lost the All-Ireland U21 hurling final of 1992 over a bottle of white wine that would blind a water buffalo then life’s rich pageant is a little duller.

THE ABOVE exchange occurred
after a Christmas function in Leinster House run by one of the main
political parties, though an ageing memory bank can’t verify whether it was the same function at which a former Minister of
Justice suffered a leg fracture during a
complex dance manoeuvre.

There was one such Christmas function, however, at which your correspondent buttonholed the man all over the newspapers yesterday. Having received a slab of tickets to sell for his GAA club, this column decided to approach Bertie Ahern TD, then leader of the opposition, to buy one.

A little context: the tickets were then £30 each, and for ‘then’ read ‘1996’. Emboldened by a lot of rapidly emptied little green bottles, your intrepid reporter approached Mr Ahern and asked if he’d ever heard of the club in question.

Yes, was the response, followed by a swift listing of some of the club’s more illustrious players.

Any chance, then, of buying a ticket?

Sure, said the man from Dublin Central. How much?

Thirty notes.

No problem, what’s your office number and I’ll have it over to you in the morning.

Fast forward to the next day. When Kingsley Amis described a character’s hangover as someone’s mouth being used as a latrine by some small creature of the night, and then as its mausoleum, he was underplaying the
desolation experienced by this column.

However, the gloom lifted when an
official messenger knocked on the door of the office in the middle of the morning with 30 quid and a little note: Best of luck to
everyone in Cork, your friend Bertie Ahern.

No doubt it would be neatness personified if the money had come in a brown envelope, but neatness and politics are stranger bedfellows than sport and politics have ever been.

contact: michael.moynihan@examiner.ie

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One Response to “Examiner Sports column, 4 April 2008.”

  1. copernicus Says:

    Always wondered why the soldiers of destiny banned staff from their Christmas hooleys.


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