JOE BROLLY: Talking without talking

John Brennan.
John Brennan.

John Brennan would be a superb TV evangelist or cult leader.

He has done it six times before with different, under achieving senior football teams. Now, with Cargin on Sunday, he has led a seventh team to a county championship. John does it first time round. He doesn’t need a three year plan, or even two years. Nine months is enough.

The first time I encountered him, ‘The Beast’, as he is affectionately known, made an immediate impression. I had just bagged the clinching score against the great Lavey team of the ‘90s and as I wheeled away blowing kisses, I was struck an almighty blow to the left ear which staggered me. John would not be a man for niceties. I could blow kisses against someone else, but not his beloved Lavey.

So, I was saddened to see that John, the last bastion of reality, has finally begun to cave in to political correctness. The one man who spoke his mind fearlessly in public has gone the way of all the others. He has retreated to the smooth sands of monotony. Before the county final, he was asked by a local newspaper for his thoughts on the game. He said, “You see all the things I said about Creggan? Say all of that again. Just change the name to Lamh Dhearg.”

Marty Morrissey: Jim, you’ve got Leitrim in the qualifiers today. It will be little more than a run out for you?

Jim Gavin: Well Marty, Leitrim are a great team and we’ve got the greatest respect for them.

Marty: But they lost to Mayo by 34 points in Connaught.

Jim: Well Marty, we watched the video of that and they certainly didn’t do themselves justice. Seven of those goals came from uncharacteristic mistakes and 14 of the frees they conceded were unfortunate. They are a great team and I’ve no doubt they will have learned from those errors. We’re under no illusions that this is a huge challenge for us today.

Marty: But Jim, seven of their first team including their left footed free taker, right footed free taker, goalie, midfielders, full back and centre forward have gone to America since the Mayo game. We’re hearing that the bus driver has had to tog out today.

Jim: Well, that is right Marty. But the U21s and three minors they’ve brought in are all quality players and the bus driver is extremely experienced. We know that if we’re not at the top of our game, we’ll not come through this challenge so our players are under no illusions that this is a huge challenge today.

Marty: And of course the game is in Croke Park, where this Leitrim team have never played.

Jim: Well, Marty, the fact it is Croke Park puts all the pressure on us. Leitrim are a great team and they haven’t come here to make up the numbers and they’ll be revelling in the occasion so it’s a huge challenge for our players and they’re under no illusions that this is a huge challenge today.

Etc etc etc blah blah blah.

I recoil in the studio when Michael Lyster says, “So let’s hear from the respective managers today and get their insights on the game.”

What follows is five minutes of b******t. Their mouths open and sounds emerge but none of it is real. Just false, time wasting, pointless b******t.

Marty: Is Michael Murphy playing? We’re hearing he is injured.

Rory: The team has been selected and we’re hoping everyone is fully fit.

Marty: But we saw Michael on crutches just a moment ago.

Rory: Michael is a great player and always gives it his all so we are hoping for that from every member of the panel. Obviously Louth are a great team Marty and we’re under no illusions that this is a huge challenge for us.

Marty: He appeared to be limping heavily when we saw him.

Rory: Marty, we have confidence in our players and they are under no illusions about the huge challenge that is ahead of them today. We’ll certainly not be taking Louth for granted.

Which is why the hullabaloo around Mickey Harte and his Tyrone team not speaking to RTE has always amused me. They’re not going to say anything anyway. What is the point of them being interviewed, other than to time waste and amuse themselves by talking without saying anything? Yet it throws the broadcaster into a tail-spin.

It has become like Prime Minister’s Question Time. Managers come on and say, in answer to every question, “I refer the right honorable gentleman to my earlier answer.”

Which is just a fancier way of putting what John Brennan said.