DOES Pat Spillane know what ‘mansplaining’ means, I wonder?
The question occurred to me on one of the many occasions the nine-time All Star interrupted eleven-time All Star Cora Staunton during The Sunday Game Live on RTÉ last weekend.
I’m old enough to remember the latter stages of Spillane’s glittering playing career. I recall his heyday as a wisecracking pundit too, as well as his weird stint presenting the night-time programme. Last Sunday he managed, as one wise owl observed, to hog much of the show while saying very little of value.
After Mayo had dispatched Leitrim, presenter Joanne Cantwell asked Pat about the absence of Lee Keegan. The Kerryman told us that Mayo had ‘learned nothing from today’, praised Mayo’s athleticism and ruthlessness, and suggested they were at a disadvantage going into the Connacht final.
Joanne, to her credit, pointed out that Pat had completely ignored her question, and had made no reference to Lee Keegan in his answer. An hour and a half earlier, Pat had told us ‘You’d never write Mayo off’, approximately two minutes after doing just that.
Even the highlight of Sunday’s analysis – the half-time argument – was a cause for frustration.
Pat inadvertently hit on a truth when he admitted that ‘years ago I would have cracked jokes and made fun of Leitrim’; he’s best when playing the court jester.
But, now in serious mode, he compared the issues facing the GAA to those confronting rural Ireland (‘too many quangos, too many self-interest groups, too many minding their own’). “The strong are getting stronger and the weak are getting weaker,” observed Cora, who wondered rhetorically what aspirations young Leitrim supporters could have.
She reminded us that ladies football has a tiered system – junior, intermediate and senior – where teams find their own level. Seán Cavanagh suggested that the answer lies ‘in the leagues’ and that ‘it’s incredibly lazy to say Dublin win the championship because they’ve money’. I suspect it helps, though, Seán.
“Money is vital,” Pat countered. “Personnel is vital.” But having made those logical points, he then told us that there are ’24 GAA clubs in Leitrim’. “But that’s not money, that’s people,” Seán shot back.
“At the end of the day, it’s still 15 against 15,” said Pat, in what sounded like an attempt to negate his own argument. Joanne apologised for having to break up the fight as the second half was about to begin. But maybe the throw-in came just in time.
Those who had flicked over from the Wimbledon tennis final at half-time in the hope of seeing highlights would have been disappointed. Entertaining (and even sometimes enlightening) though the discussion was, would an hour-long, midweek TV programme not be a much more appropriate home for such debate? Though if Pat is centre stage on such a show, maybe we’re better off watching repeats of Bridget & Eamon instead.
Amid the seriousness of a Covid-19 outbreak in the Mayo camp, there were also moments of farce in the past week. ‘Mayo kit van banned for one game after vehicle busted in covert operation against Sligo’, a headline you’d expect to see on the satirical Waterford Whispers News website, appeared in the Irish Independent.
By the weekend, The Mayo Van had its own parody Twitter account, @MayoVan1.
What a time to be alive.