This week RTE launched Game On a new one hour weeknight sports show to rival Newstalk’s outrageously popular Off the Ball. To mark the occasion they decided to set up camp in the IRFU suite of Aviva stadium in the company of the Irish Rugby Supports Club for a live broadcast.
It was a great night with usual presenter Damien O’Meara joined with guests Michael “the Voice” Corcoran, Shane Byrne, Brent Pope and Brian Kerr. Here are some of the talking points.
First question to Michael Corcoran, any thoughts on the Ireland England match?
Michael the Voice: “You could play Ireland and England in a Tesco car park and there’d still be a lot of interest in it.”
Right you are so. With mental images of Brian O’Driscoll ploughing through shopping trolleys, Damien asked again, what did Michael think of the game.
Michael the Voice: “The game on Sunday is going to be incredible. I mean I’ve been trying hard all week not to get too… ‘aroused’ is the word I was going to use…”
Damien’s a little unsure now. How about Shane Byrne? Thoughts? Ireland at home against England?
Shane: “If you can’t get up for that there’s something wrong with you.”
Titters of laughter from the giddy Irish Rugby Supporters Club. Poor Damien isn’t sure where to go next. Time to play a trump card: he goes to Popey.
Damien: “Brent, dig us out of the gutter and bring the standard of conversation back up – no double entendres now if you would.”
Brent, “Well I’m not aroused.”
Damien (stuttering): “Good, good. Well I’m glad to hear it… I don’t know what to say.”
On went the chat and the banter. Damien inquired as to the fitness of the team: was Gordon D’Arcy recovered after limping off against Wales? Michael had been at the Millennium Stadium:
Michael the Voice: “To see Gordon D’Arcy coming out of the changing room last week it looked for all intents and purposes as if somebody had sawed off the bottom half of his leg from the knee down – and I mean that honestly.”
Gasps from the supporters club. But Michael wasn’t done yet.
Michael the Voice: “He had a tracksuit bottom him and his leg was taped up into position at that angle (motions with hands and description peters out).”
Laughter from the lads. Sorry what angle? Shane wanted to know the precise angle of Gordon’s battered leg. Michael has no answer. Brent wondered what Michael got in maths. Michael has no answer. To hell with the rugby, maths was a more interesting conversation topic.
Michael the Voice: “I read somewhere that Brian O’Driscoll has more caps for Ireland than the English backline…?” Damien steps in to help out.
Damien: “The starting fifteen have 242 caps between them which is only twice what Brian O’Driscoll has – if my maths is correct.”
Brian Kerr puts a hand in the air.
Brian: “We used to call it ‘sums’ in school rather than maths, and given your figures I reckon the English have an average of 16 caps each. So that sounds to me like not too much experience.”
One nil to the football pundit on a rugby panel.
Damien: “Lansdowne Road as a venue, as a place – every time you walk down towards the train tracks – is it a place that brings back fond memories? Does it have a special place in your heart?”
You can hear a pin drop in the suite as misty eyed Irish Rugby Supporters Club members anticipate Brian’s nostalgia fuelled response.
Brian: “Eh… from the point of view of going to rugby matches?” (delighted Supporters Club members erupt with laughter)
Damien: (exasperated) “No soccer. From your career’s point of view… Thanks Brian.” Did Brian identify with hallowed Lansdowne Road from a soccer point of view?
Brian: “Not particularly… I used to come in the door as the manager of the international team, get off the bus and in the door and there’d only be pictures of rugby players all around the hall.”
Hmm… and how about the brand new shining stadium? Any improvement there?
Brian: “It’s a lovely stadium but I don’t think they’ve recreated the atmosphere in the stadium, certainly not in soccer – the rugby matches have been fine… I still like coming to the place but I’ve mixed feelings about whether the opposition are afraid of it. I don’t see teams coming here with the same fear as they did with the previous ground when the crowd were right in on top of you. I don’t get that sense now.”
Ah well, things looked nice enough from the swish IRFU suite. No smell of prawn sandwiches though the nibbles were lovely.
Here’s hoping the lads do as good a job on Sunday as the radio boys did yesterday.