Dinosaurs still know how to win

You know you are getting old when the kids in the back of the car start referring to the rock icons of your youth as dinosaurs, particularly when the dinosaurs in question weren’t heard of before you hit 20.

Now to me, musical dinosaurs are the likes of the Rolling Stones or Paul McCartney, men who had number one hits before I was even born way back when in 1964.

The fact that they are still touring makes me feel good about the ageing process, even if Mick Jagger can’t pick the winner in a soccer match for love nor money as we witnessed during the World Cup finals in South Africa this summer.

And just last Sunday, the Times of London carried a quite brilliant if way too short interview with the guitar genius that is Jimmy Page, who was also strutting his stuff when I was still in the cloth nappies with the big safety pins that prevailed long before Huggies and their likes.

Jagger, Page and McCartney I’d classify as golden oldies any day of the week, but Morrissey of Smiths fame? Never.

Which explains why it came as quick a shock on Sunday morning when the kids informed me that classic rock today is the likes of Morrissey and the Smiths, U2, the Cure, the Clash, Stiff Little Fingers, the Undertones and the Police, all bands we worshipped when we were waiting for our Leaving Cert results at St. Patrick’s Classical School in Navan back in ’81.

Not alone were the new wave anthems of my youth assigned to memory lane, they’d barely heard of men like McCartney and Jagger for all their years of experience and all their hits.

My daughter Lia even went so far as to suggest that the Stones would never survive Simon Cowell on the likes of American Idol, surely the greatest insult of all until you realize that she may well have a point.

The youth of today, you see, care little for experience. In a world dominated by instant celebrity and short term fame, they want it all and they want it now.

Rejection is difficult to take in the circumstances, which may explain why every Dublin football fan I know is currently walking around our capital city with their head touching their toes.

The Dubs are down in the dumps after Sunday’s All-Ireland semifinal defeat to Cork and rightly so. They had Sam Maguire in their grasp, and they let the trophy that has eluded them since 1995 slip away in the most agonizing circumstances of all.

Now before the letter writers out in the Bronx rush for their pens, I know it was only an All-Ireland semifinal last weekend, and I know they don’t give out the Sam Maguire in August. I’m not stupid, you know!

But bear with me. Dublin, thanks mostly to the brilliance of Bernard and Alan Brogan, ran Cork ragged for 60 of the 74 minutes played last Sunday and led the game for 69 of those 74 minutes.

For long spells they were more aware of the pace of the game, they were cuter on the ball and they were tactically superior against a side with far more experience of the big stage. And therein lies the bitter pill that Dublin supporters are currently trying to swallow.

The fat lady was beginning to sing a Croke Park lament from Cork when tiredness, indiscipline and inexperience cost Dublin so dearly last weekend.

There was no need, for example, for Ross McConnell to pull Colm O’Neill to the ground for the 54th minute penalty that finally offered Cork hope in a match that seemed beyond them.

There was no need either for McConnell to commit the foul too many that led to his dismissal in the final seconds of a game that was simply impossible to ignore in terms of excitement and drama.

Dublin led the game for 69 minutes and lost it in the final five thanks simply to the innocence of youth.

Their new look team, minus so many of the players who had failed on the final stages of the All-Ireland road in recent years, just weren’t cute enough to see the job finished.

They stalled when they needed to go into over-drive and Cork, bearing the scars of their own All-Ireland disappointment against Kerry last September, knew how to apply the kiss of death.
That’s why Conor Counihan’s side, dinosaurs like McCartney and Jagger compared to the new boys in the Dublin jerseys, will play Kildare or Down in next month’s final -- probably Kildare as it happens, but more of that after their game this Sunday.

Kids can laugh at old men, as they do so often, but sometimes experience counts for so much.
The bitter experience of defeat will stand to Dublin next year, no matter how much they are hurting at the moment.

But next year the All-Ireland mightn’t be as manageable as it could have been if only they’d won on Sunday.

As English telly dinosaur Esther Rantzen used to say -- that’s life.

Sideline Views

SOCCER: Oh to be a fly on the wall this Sunday when Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni goes back to work after his recent surgery when he undertakes a scouting trip to Villa Park in Birmingham. Trap and assistant Marco Tardelli will take in the Aston Villa-Everton game before joining up with the Ireland squad for the Euro double header against Armenia and Andorra, and will be keeping an eye on Richard Dunne in Sunday’s game, but they’ll also come across the new Villa midfielder Stephen Ireland. That’s the same Ireland who claimed last weekend that his discussions with Trap have been bizarre and that the Irish boss is “desperate” to have him back. Should make for an interesting conversation if they do meet before or after the game!

GOLF: Padraig Harrington will be chasing the Fed Ex dollar in America this week when the likes of Miguel Angel Jimenez will be chasing the final guaranteed Ryder Cup places at Gleneagles in Scotland. Harrington, who says he really wants to play in Wales on the first weekend in October, can only make it as a wild card but is clearly happy enough to take his chances -- unless he’s already got the nod from captain Colin Montgomerie and knows something we don’t. It’s hard to imagine Europe going into battle with America without our man.

SOCCER: Former Irish international turned Newcastle United boss Chris Hughton kept his feet on the ground after Sunday’s stunning 6-0 win over Stephen Ireland and Aston Villa, but the genial Hughton deserves all the praise that came his way after the sensational win. The victory also saw Joey Barton shave off a ridiculous moustache -- he promised to get rid of it as soon as the promoted Geordies won a Premier League game and they duly obliged at the second time of asking.

SOCCER: Celtic have missed out on the Welsh striker Craig Bellamy who has moved home to Cardiff on loan for the rest of the season with parent club Manchester City paying most of his 100,000 a week wages. Bellamy’s arrival has caused quite a stir in the principality -- the club shop ran out of the letter B on Friday as fans rushed to get the name Bellamy on the back of their shirts!

SOCCER: More than once during the World Cup the impressive American coach Bob Bradley came across as someone who could do a job in the Premier League. Well, it looks like he’s about to get his chance with Aston Villa as successor to Martin O’Neill which is good news for the Birmingham side. Don’t be surprised if his son Michael, a goal scoring hero in South Africa, follows Bob to England.

HERO OF THE WEEK

The great Mícheál Ó Muircheartaigh celebrated his 80th birthday last Friday in typical style -- he climbed Mount Brandon in Kerry in the company of family and friends. Mícheál has been scaling the heights on RTE for years as the voice of Gaelic games and was on top form for Sunday’s All-Ireland football semifinal between Cork and Dublin. We can only hope he’s around for many years to come.

IDIOTS OF THE WEEK

The French FA came down hard on their World Cup idiots this week when they dished out a number of bans to those responsible for the farce that was their South African campaign, in particular to those who orchestrated that ridiculous training ground strike. Captain Patrice Evra was handed a five game ban and Franck Ribery is gone for three matches, but the best news is that Nicolas Anelka will have to serve an 18 game suspension if he ever wants to play for his country again. That’s doubtful of course -- he said he was “dying with laughter” when the ban was announced -- but at least the French FA has taken a stance.

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