DAY EIGHT IN the RTÉ pundit house and finally the talk moved on to that beloved Irish pastime; killing grannies.
After years and years of quibbling over who was a good player and who was a great player, John Giles summoned the ghosts of his Leeds United past and prodded a finger on what really determines who makes a difference on the big stage.
Yep, Bobby Collins may have only been 5’3″ but Giles recalled the Celtic legend applying the ‘would he kill his granny’ test when rating whether a player had what it took to be the best.
“Bobby Collins would kill his granny and his grandfather to win a match,” Giles said as if he were proving a point to the anchor (We can only presume this is the reason the senior analyst has never seemed overly fond of Stephen Ireland – he’s all talk, that lad).
Bill O’Herlihy attempted to facilitate some light to these shady dealings, but the blood was in the water. And without Kenny Cunnigham or Richie Sadlier to wade in and provide a counter-argument, grannies across the land were slipping a knife into their hot water bottle sleeves as they hurried off up to bed and locked the door behind them.
“[England need] players who are able to play, are encouraged to play, and at times; if they have to kill their granny, they have to kill their granny.”
The sight of England in a major tournament will always get the juices flowing on Messrs Giles, Brady and Dunphy. Their pro-homicide spiel came only a week after that loveable rogue Eamon Dunphy made one of his more bombastic on-air wagers.
It was a hell of a way to open the show. The rest of the world may have been blinded by Pitbull’s shiny head or J-Lo’s jumpsuit, but Ireland was left with the prospect of Eamo wearing a dress live on TV should England manage to reach the quarter-finals.
The strong feelings for the England football team didn’t need stirring, but Dunphy’s bold proclamation – delivered, seemingly, with regret increasing as each word slipped from his mouth – left opinions divided and deep-seeded nationalistic beliefs suddenly less certain.
Of course, Italy and Uruguay brought (almost certain) relief for those who preferred not to see Eamon in his ball gown. And, it seemed that aligning his fortunes with the failure of Roy Hodgson’s boys had give Dunphy a certain sympathy for them.
Besties: Wazza, JT and Eamo
There will be no ‘live sex on the BBC’ jibe when the Three Lions’ exit is confirmed. No, Dunphy’s new found affinity in this team has taken the unlikely forms of Wayne Rooney and one John Terry.
Unlikely, because the pundit has spent much of the last decade calling out bottlers and those who seem seem off the pace at the highest level. And yet, there’s Wayne Rooney, with one brand new World Cup goal to his name and most of his international highlights dating back to Euro 2004. Still, we can chalk all that down to being the front man of a bad team… because the World Cup isn’t littered with decent strikers carrying poor teams.
That’s the thing with the senior punditry panel on RTÉ, nothing drives the conversation like a pre-conceived notion. And that’s why Terry was the hero of the hour for the three wise men. There’s a man who’d kill his granny – we want to presume – figuratively.
“To leave him out,” Dunphy said after Italy’s win in Manaus last Saturday, “because of some row he had with the FA two years ago is absurd. He’s the best central defender in England by a mile.”
We can look around for young Cunningham or Sadlier, but there’s nobody but the senior analysts to nod wisely. There was no time to offer some love to Ashley Cole or Frank Lampard, it was all about the man who retired from international football two years ago.
“If you’re picking a team that has to go and win to save your life in the back hole of Argentina,” Giles said last night (with scant concern for the context of this World Cup or the consequences from the Argentinian tourist board),” John Terry would be in that team.”
It’s enough to make you wonder what on earth they might natter on about off air… except, as Eoin McDevitt pointed out on Second Captains this week, we know that too. It’s just an expletive-laden version of what goes on air.
The absence of Neymar in Dunphy’s smile-hiding apology would suggest that he doesn’t think he’s the sort of lad that would off his aul’ one’s aul’ one. Even after the ‘really sorry’ to all his fans out there, even after the F-bomb circulated the globe on YouTube, messers Dunphy, Brady and Giles yesterday came back on air giggling like schoolboys:
“He nearly did it again!” Brady reported like a kid trying to get his mate suspended for the craic. And that’s precisely why we can’t keep our eyes off RTÉ.
We have a fairly good idea of what’s going to happen on ITV and BBC: Thierry Henry will walk the line between underwhelmed while saying he’s impressed, Gordon Strachan will be the jitteriest man in Brazil, Gary Lineker will make an odd joke, maybe repeat the unfounded rumour that an Ivory Coast player’s father had died that day, but he would never go killing a granny.
Or, if he had, we’d be too busy watching the remaining 24 days on RTÉ to notice.