O'Rourke making a name as toughest pundit in Dublin 4
SUNDAY GAME pundit Colm O’Rourke has now become so macho that, if he swaggers into the RTÉ studio some of these days looking like Clint Eastwood in Pale Rider, we might accept it with a shrug.
Prior to the action between Kerry and Kildare in the first All-Ireland quarter-final, host Michael Lyster told O’Rourke he had been reading his newspaper column. In it, Lyster told us, O’Rourke had said that, in order to best Kerry, the Lilywhites would have to visit ‘the dark side’.
“How dark do they need to get,” queried Lyster? The Meath man responded with a withering analysis of the Kildare men’s toughness but, on the plus side, an upbeat report on their suitability as suitors for Mná na hÉireann.
“You look at counties and they get reputations… Kerry we associate with all the silky skills and beautiful football,” said O’Rourke.
“Dublin [with] being ruthless in terms of getting goals. Donegal – we’d all associate with sort of a raw hard edge to them… but like when it comes to Kildare – always I associate with Kildare teams, when I played against them and when I have watched them, is that they are nice footballers… they are the sort of fellas you wouldn’t mind going out with your daughter, but they are not the sort of fellas that you’d worry about in a big game.”
This unique take on Jason Ryan’s men prompted fellow pundit Joe Brolly to quip: “Good husband material but not All-Ireland winners...an unusual analysis, I have to say.”
An hour-and-a-half or so later, Kerry had walloped Kildare to Newbridge and back. The suspicion was that, if they had been armed with knuckledusters, it wouldn’t have alarmed Éamon Fitzmaurice’s men, such was the Kingdom’s ability to ghost past their opponents time after time.
Such was the hammering handed out in that game that one also feared for Fermanagh against the Dubs. Surely this was a mismatch of seismic proportions?
As it turned out, although Dublin were clearly superior, it wasn’t quite as clear-cut as that. Although out-gunned in a thrilling Croke Park shoot-out, the Erne men emerged from the game with credit as they took the game to Dublin from beginning to end.
At half-time though, Clint, sorry, Colm O’Rourke was having none of it. Fermanagh were 10 points adrift, with their rivals’ tally of 1-13 having come entirely from play: “You have to say Dublin are at their ease in this game, no matter how much we commend Fermanagh’s spirit,” drawled the Meath man.
The arguments, perhaps a touch disrespectful to Fermanagh, for a second tier competition were then rehearsed again at the break by both Brolly and O’Rourke, before Lyster stepped in to stir it up.
“Ye lads here, you have all the wisdom on this thing at half-time. I presume Pete McGrath has some of it,” said the Galway man before being interrupted by O’Rourke, who had a memorable dig at Brolly.
“We’re the armchair generals and Joe is the greatest armchair general in the world. Two hundred years ago, if he was with Napoleon, it would have been a different contest altogether,” said O’Rourke.
If indeed the garrulous Derry man had been with Napoleon at Waterloo, the French general might not have got out of the battlefield tent.