Confession time – the Super Bowl came and went without as much as a sighting of a Red Hot Chilli pepper or a red hot Malcolm Smith.
I slept through it. Not that unusual for somebody who lives in a quiet corner of the Royal County of Meath you might think where the time zone is a few hours ahead of New Jersey. But it was.
It was unusual in that I was fast asleep a good five hours before the teams had even arrived at whatever stadium it is that replaced the Giants arena where Ray Houghton made history all those years ago.
Now, as it was back then in 1994, Guinness had a lot to blame for the state of my senses and my lack of knowledge of the Seattle Seahawks’ outstanding performance against the Denver Broncos.
Normally I wouldn’t be all that bothered by the Super Bowl. There’s a bunch of guys in our Irish Sun office who swear by American football and would stay up all night watching it given half the chance.
Me? I’d normally prefer to wash my hair.
This year was slightly different though, and all thanks to that young man by the name of Richard Sherman and his post-game interview after the win over the 49ers.
Like Saipan all those years ago, that was a story that went around the world and even landed in my sleepy hamlet of Dunsany. Alas sleepy was also the word at about nine o’clock Irish time on Sunday evening when this ageing body, soon to abandon the 49ers of life and turn 50, admitted defeat in the battle with slumber.
Arthur was to blame. Arthur Guinness’s finest product and a corporate box at the Aviva Stadium combined to stage my Super Bowl downfall on Sunday just gone.
My intentions were simple. Accept the invitation from the Guinness media department to watch Ireland’s opening Six Nations game against Scotland from their box, enjoy a prawn sandwich or two in honor of Roy and sample mein host’s product, simply because it would have been rude not to.
Then we’d get the 7:30 bus – the “so say all of us” as one journalistic colleague likes to call it – home, cadge a lift from the village of Dunshaughlin off the patient missus and relax in front of the flatscreen in time for Sky’s kick-off of events from the other side of the Atlantic.
That was the plan for me and my partner in crime, Gavan Becton of Bohermeen. And a fine plan it was – for all of an hour or so until some old buddies surfaced in the Aviva Stadium, one by the name of Liam Hayes formerly of this parish. Pretty soon New Jersey seemed further away by the minute.
That’s what happens when the company is as good as the surroundings and the craic flows as freely as the Guinness -- which probably explains why I woke up an hour after the Super Bowl had ended with a Guinness hat on me and a Guinness head on me. The patient wife had long since gone to bed and I was left to contemplate the empty screen.
I did discover, quite quickly on Sky’s early morning news service, that the Seahawks had blown the Broncos out of the water.
And I was glad for them. Sherman impressed me with his honesty, his cheek and his guile in that interview, and I’m glad their fans had good reason to be Sleepless in Seattle while I was anything but in Meath.
As for the rugby, I can share a couple of thoughts with you. Ireland won’t win the Six Nations based on that Sunday performance, even if it was better in the second half.
They were too sterile and two predictable to worry France or even England judging by the events in Paris on Saturday evening, and I would even worry about their chances against Wales in Dublin this coming Saturday -- when my doctor will be glad to know I’ll be watching from the safer confines of the aforementioned Sun office.
The Aviva atmosphere, outside of the Guinness box in the East Stand, was also a major let down. The pre-match choir, seated for the game in the corporate suite next to us, did attempt to raise more than one chorus of “Ireland’s Call” and “The Fields of Athenry,” but the Aviva really is a sterile and modern stadium of the worst kind when the action on the pitch fails to inspire the spectators off it.
What I did like on the pitch was Jamie Heaslip’s never say die attitude and Brian O’Driscoll’s never get old approach.
Now 35 years of age, O’Driscoll was a tireless wonder for all his time in the heart of the action as he won a record 129th international cap.
Like me, he was probably too tired to stay up and watch the Super Bowl but he, at least, earned his sleep.
And I like the idea, mooted by the great Des Cahill on RTE on his Twitter feed on Monday morning, that the Aviva should rise to acclaim number 13 O’Driscoll in the 13th minute of the remaining home games against Wales and Italy.
It’s a great idea for a great tribute to a brilliant player in his final season with Ireland.
And I promise to try and stay awake long enough to join in – from the safety of my desk!
(Cathal Dervan is sports editor of the Irish Sun newspaper in Dublin)
GAA: Whatever you think of Paul Galvin – and he is a great man for stirring opinions – he will be missed by the Kerry team and their supporters after announcing his retirement last weekend. Never one to shun controversy, he was a better footballer than his image suggested and I loved the suggestion by one tweeter that he just couldn’t face into a new season without his old Cork nemesis Noel O’Leary in the red corner after he too retired from the inter-county scene of late. Those two characters will certainly be hard to replace on the Munster and national stage.
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