Pick­ing the ‘great­est’ is to­tal waste of time

Wicklow People (West Edition) - - SPORT -

I TUNED in to the first in­stal­ment of ‘Ire­land’s Great­est Sport­ing Mo­ment’ last Thurs­day evening know­ing full well that I’d come out on the other side feel­ing un­der­whelmed, and the show went pretty much along ex­pected lines.

These sort of projects are al­most al­ways a com­plete and ut­ter waste of time.

Whether it be search­ing for the coun­try’s finest sports star or try­ing to se­lect play­ers wor­thy of a place on the best teams of all time, it’s fu­tile and ul­ti­mately point­less.

You might as well be ask­ing some­body what their favourite colour is, or what ghastly grub you pre­fer to gorge your­self with in the chip­per af­ter a feed of pints.

Of course, opt­ing for your per­sonal num­ber one sport­ing mo­ment is com­pletely sub­jec­tive, de­pend­ing on your pre­ferred code of choice, your age, what mem­o­ries it evokes etc.

Thurs­day’s first of­fer­ing, where they fo­cused on the five stand-out mo­ments of the 1980s, was a case in point, where you might as well be ask­ing a dot­ing dad to sin­gle out his favourite child.

The pub­lic got to choose from Ea­monn Cogh­lan win­ning world cham­pi­onship gold in the 5,000 me­tres in 1983; Barry McGuigan’s WBA world feath­er­weight ti­tle tri­umph in 1985; Ray Houghton putting the ball in the English net in 1988; Of­faly’s Sea­mus Darby deny­ing Kerry the five-in-a-row in 1982, or Stephen Roche win­ning the Tour de France in 1987.

All ad­mirable achieve­ments, no doubt, but there was no place on the short­list for Den­nis Tay­lor’s late night black ball fi­nal win over Steve Davis in 1985, Ire­land’s Triple Crowns in ’82 and ’85, Dawn Run’s Gold Cup win in 1986, or John Fen­ton’s piledriver against Lim­er­ick in 1987.

That said, there’s some out there that would refuse to see snooker or even horse rac­ing as a sport and many could say the likes of Sea­mus Darby or John Fen­ton have no place in such a list, given that pri­mar­ily they brought joy to a county rather than the whole na­tion.

Given my own her­itage, my favourite sport­ing mo­ment would be be­ing in Croke Park in 1996 when Ge­orge O’Con­nor dropped to his knees with his hands clasped in prayer when Wexford fi­nally ended years of hurt by win­ning the All-Ire­land, but I wouldn’t be fool­ish enough to think it could hold such res­o­nance coun­try­wide.

There’s plenty of folk of a more re­cent vin­tage who would ar­gue that Conor McGre­gor be­com­ing a two-weight world cham­pion should be up there with the na­tion’s proud­est mo­ments, whereas oth­ers would be hor­ri­fied to have his name even men­tioned in such ex­alted com­pany. As I said, each to their own.

The most point­less thing about the pro­gramme is hav­ing ‘ex­perts’ giv­ing their tup­pence worth on the mer­its of each of the short­listed mo­ments, ba­si­cally giv­ing Joe Brolly, Eamon Dun­phy and So­nia O’Sul­li­van, who were the guests on the first show, a li­cence to wax lyri­cal about their own favourites and ruth­lessly tear the oth­ers’ achieve­ments apart piece by piece.

Be­fore the open­ing cred­its rolled, it was ob­vi­ous that Houghton’s goal against Eng­land in ’88, Packie Bon­ner sav­ing Daniel Ti­mofte’s penalty in Italia ’90, Ire­land’s Grand Slam win in 2009, their win over the All Blacks, Katie Tay­lor’s Olympic gold or, pos­si­bly one of Pádraig Har­ring­ton’s Ma­jor wins, will, wrongly or rightly, be vy­ing for the top spot.

We’ll all have our own pref­er­ence, but it doesn’t mat­ter one jot who comes out on top be­cause these types of polls are mean­ing­less.

The pow­ers-that-be will ar­gue that they’re great for spark­ing de­bate among sports fans, but in re­al­ity if two fel­las were sit­ting at a bar the con­ver­sa­tion would go some­thing like this.

‘Def­i­nitely Houghton stick­ing the ball in the English net Tommy.’

‘No way Johnny, has to be Ire­land win­ning the Grand Slam in 2009.’ ‘Sure you’re a soc­cer man Johnny.’ ‘Aye, and you’re a rugby man.’ ‘Fair enough.’ ‘Fair enough.’

As a small na­tion that some­time punches above its weight, we don’t have World Cup suc­cesses to cel­e­brate or a plethora of tri­umphs on a global stage, but we do have some won­der­ful mo­ments that are frozen in time that gen­uinely lifted the na­tion.

It’s prob­a­bly best to keep them that way in­stead of dis­sect­ing them, nit­pick­ing and di­lut­ing the achieve­ments.

Will I tune into the show again this week? Prob­a­bly. Will I en­gage in a full-blown back and forth de­bate about the mer­its of who should be in and out? No chance.

Life’s too short and there’s more im­por­tant things to be ar­gu­ing about. Like which are bet­ter: Roses or Qual­ity Street?

Packie Bon­ner sav­ing Daniel Ti­mofte’s penalty in Italia ’90. Is this Ire­land’s Great­est Sport­ing Mo­ment? Do we re­ally care?

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Ireland

© PressReader. All rights reserved.