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.
GOLF: Rory McIlroy has confirmed he will play in the Honda Classic in Florida at the end of the month, so let’s hope he finishes the tournament this time around. A year ago he walked off the course after eight holes of his second round, a gesture that hinted at the frailty of his game and attitude at the time. He may have flunked in Dubai last weekend, but he appears to be a much better place right now and can prove it on his return to Palm Beach Gardens.
SOCCER: There are thousands of Leeds United fans in Ireland, most of them in their forties and fifties and throwbacks to the Don Revie era at the club. They must be disgusted with the current wranglings at their club where their Irish manager Brian McDermott was sacked by one potential owner on Friday, reinstalled by the current owners on Sunday and left with major doubts over his future when he returned to work on Monday. You couldn’t make it up if you tried.
SOCCER: Spare a thought for Irish midfielder Wes Hoolahan who has months left on his Norwich City contract after failing to secure a move to Aston Villa or West Brom on Friday, deadline day. To make matters worse for our Wes, he was caught calling City a “f****** s*******” club by a TV camera and now faces being ostracised by team-mates and fans as well as stuck in the reserves for the rest of the season. Not a happy camper.
SOCCER: Andy Reid was on the box again the other night when he orchestrated Nottingham Forest’s Championship win over Watford with one of the most skilful and sublime midfield performances you will ever see. His left foot was once again a thing of beauty which makes Giovanni Trapattoni’s decision to discard him for five years all the more baffling.
SOCCER: It was never going to be easy for David Moyes as he attempted to fill Alex Ferguson’s shoes at Manchester United, but he must be close to the brink now after losing at Stoke on Saturday. United really should have gone for Jose Mourinho last summer. Chelsea’s 1-0 win at Manchester City on Monday night proved it.
HERO OF THE WEEK
HE may be 35 years of age now and he may have more caps, at 129, than any other Irish players of any generation, but Brian O’Driscoll still has so much to offer the Ireland team. He proved that again with a faultless 73 minutes against Scotland on Sunday and he will prove it again when he settles a few old scores with Warren Gatland and Wales this Saturday.
IDIOTS OF THE WEEK
FANS at Tynecastle on Saturday – as Aberdeen beat Hearts in the Scottish League Cup semifinal – had nothing better to do with their time that pelt the Celtic manager Neil Lennon with coins and stones, probably on sectarian grounds. They should be ashamed of themselves. And those who run the game in Scotland shouldn’t be at all surprised when Lennon leaves for a decent job in England, probably sooner rather than later.
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