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TV Wrap: Kilbane no-nonsense as Declan Rice saga finally reaches its end

Elsewhere, TG4 showed their latest innovation in covering sport.

Kevin Kilbane speaking on Virgin Media Sport.
Kevin Kilbane speaking on Virgin Media Sport.

Updated Feb 18th 2019, 12:11 PM

THUS ENDS THE most torturous public interrogation of identity since Kevin In County Galway tried to win a bike on What’s Snots.

We don’t know whether Declan Rice found himself morosely staring into the black, deindividuated void of the true self that Snotser did – “I’m a thing! I’m a thing! I’m a thing? I’m a…thing” – but we do know that Rice has decided to kick Ireland to the kerb and leap into Gareth Southgate’s immaculately-ironed blue sleeves.

The nuances of national identity are a tricky thing to get into at any stage of the week, but Wednesday – the day of Rice’s lengthy announcement – had all started so well on this front.

Our sense of selves was happily reinforced by newspaper headlines that morning reading “All-Ireland Winner Saves Woman From Burning At Mass”, which is right up there with “Junior Hurler Wins County Championship In Jeans Hours After Delivering Baby In Turf Shed” and “Wildly Over-Budget Infrastructure Project Opened and Blessed By Marty Whelan” in the storied realm of headlines beneath which you’d tag your mates and laugh at how surreal yet essential all of this is to our madcap, singular Irish lives.

On the topic of Rice finally reaching his decision, Kevin Kilbane was the most forthright in his views.

“If you’re a proud Englishman”, said Kilbane on Virgin Media in reference to a line in Rice’s statement, “then you don’t come and play for us, in my mind.”

Brian Kerr, meanwhile, was critical of the rule that allowed Rice switch allegiance having played for Ireland at U21 and senior level.

“What’s he going to do with all his Irish jerseys now? Take them away and burn them?”

On the following night’s Off the Ball, Kilbane picked up on Kerr’s jersey theme, saying that Rice had “taken the shirt and he’s shit all over it.”

Everyone had their low-points in the hours after the saga’s sad conclusion.

Was it the gazillion references to the backstop? Or Gary Lineker’s gratuitous “Declan Rice, he’s one of our own” tweet within minutes of the announcement?

Maybe it was the dredging up of that “You’ve taken our potatoes, but you’ll never take our Rice” banner? Or was it the Irish fan who bewilderingly tweeted that not even Oliver Cromwell would have committed a heresy so extreme as deciding that he didn’t really want to play in Ireland’s midfield after all?

TV Wrap’s, however, – ahead of even the loss of a few ‘Paddy Fields Rice’ headlines on future Irish team announcements – was the mocking of one of Ireland’s greatest ever sportsmen by a wealthy porn baron.

What was particularly exhausting about the whole debate is that nobody – other than those who believe Rice won’t get a game for England ahead of Eric Dier – was actually wrong. 

Identity and national allegiance are complex and personal things, so it follows that someone’s impression of what Rice should have done is what they would have done in a similar scenario.

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When it was put to Kilbane on Off the Ball that a lot of people didn’t agree with his views on Rice, he hit on this theme.

I don’t know what you want me to say here. Yes, I know that people have different opinions to me. I’m not going to change my mind on it, and get on board with that statement from Declan Rice saying he’s a proud Englishman.

“I can’t get on board with that as it is total rubbish.

“That’s the way that I feel about it.”

On this one, Declan Rice felt differently.

TG4′s enduring genius

TG4 debuted a new feature during their live coverage of Connacht/Cheetahs at the weekend, as they filmed Nigel Owens’ pre-game instructions to the respective packs in the dressing room.

This was a reminder of the innovation that has always featured in TG4’s coverage of sport.

This ranges from broad ideas like showing La Liga highlights and realising that the GAA existed in the winter, to small improvements like splitting the screen to ensure Stephen Cluxton’s light-speed kick-outs weren’t lost amid replays during the 2017 league final.

TV Wrap would love to see what they would do with the League of Ireland when it falls between the gaps of RTE and eir Sport’s schedule.

 An Léag is Fearr an Domhan has a ring to it…

First published at 10.24 

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About the author:

Gavin Cooney

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