Football/Soccer

Kenny Archer: Super Eights more likely viewing than Super Eagles for World Cup Final day

Dublin against Donegal is Kenny's likeliest viewing on World Cup Final day. Pic Seamus Loughran

WHEN this year's World Cup Final comes around I'm almost certain who I'll be watching. You won't make a fortune by betting on the identity of the two teams, however.

It'll be Dublin (sorry, Laois) and – sorry, Fermanagh – almost probably Donegal.

The recent heat-wave hasn't gone to my head and melted my brain.

Barring something serious happening, around 4pm on Sunday July 15, when the 2018 World Cup Final kicks off, I'll be in Croke Park, reporting on the Leinster football champions – let's call them Dublin – against their counterparts from Ulster.

Maybe I'll be wrong.

Maybe the GAA will think that it hasn't yet pumped enough money into Dublin to stave off the threat and avert the appeal of soccer in that city.

So maybe the Association won't risk testing the depth of love for GAA in Dublin and will instead switch their opening game in the 'Super Eights' to the Saturday, July 14.

However, in all likelihood I'll still be in Croke Park the next day, whichever teams are playing.

This isn't a proud declaration of great Gaeldom, a boast that the Sassenach sport comes second. I'm not angling for a job with the Ulster Council.

My colleagues are all cleverly going on holiday around that time or have booked that particular Sunday off, despite me actually, literally, keeping the holiday diary under lock and key.

So I'm completely in favour of the next World Cup being moved to winter.

My boss(es) should know this now know: as an ultimate professional, I'll be in Croke on Sunday July 15. But if the GAA does decide to switch Dublin v the Ulster champions to the opening Saturday of the Super Eights then I won't be there – because it's a rather important birthday for my wonderful dad, and I'll be spending time with him that day.

Greater love hath no soccer-head son than he'll lay down his chance of watching the World Cup Final live to be with the man who passed on his passion for the game. I'm even prepared to forego watching the third place play-off. Probably.

My own son has already won a battle with me against the appeal of a World Cup Final.

Four years ago, I was watching Germany v Argentina in an adjacent hotel room when his wail came through the monitor from our bedroom, where he was sleeping. Or supposed to be. Grrrrrrrrrrrr.

At that time, I was better able to settle the little tyke, not even nine-months-old then, when he woke up roaring. Any parent knows that it's heart-rending to listen to their child screaming, especially when they find themselves in strange surroundings.

I love that little chap immensely, of course.

I won't lie, though. I tried to send my wife to deal with him. After all, the game had gone into extra time.

When she politely persuaded me to stop my son screaming, I backed out of the room veeeerrrrrryyyyyyyy slowly, eyes glued to the TV screen, sensing, nay knowing, that I was about to miss a massive moment.

Predictably, Germany scored what proved to be the only goal of the final seconds after I stepped into the corridor.

Not that I'm bitter, son.

Family hasn't always come first with me, it must be admitted.

The first World Cup Final that I watched live, I did so on my own, as my mum, dad, and sisters went off to collect my older brother from a summer camp he had been attending.

I would tell you which year that was but you wouldn't believe I'm actually so old, nor that my parents would be so callous as to leave such a young child – almost a babe in arms - absolutely alone.

To be fair to them, as a rather precocious speaker, I had insisted that I would not be leaving the house because they could not guarantee I'd get to see the World Cup Final live where they were going.

Yet although I know the fate that awaits me this year, I'm prepared for it.

I've come to terms with the fact that I won't be watching the World Cup Final live.

It'll probably be a rubbish game anyway. They usually are. Sure the last two didn't even produce a single goal in normal time.

Ach, who am I kidding?

There can be any amount of negativity surrounding every World Cup.

Some of it is serious, such as the concerns about the crimes committed at the direction of the Russian state or with its assistance, within its own borders and beyond.

Some of the negativity is laughable, such as the four-yearly moan of people who seem incapable of turning a television over or off, or of picking up a book, listening to some music, or doing anything else other than complaining that there's a lot of football being shown on terrestrial channels for a month.

But although I'd rather the tournament hadn't been bought by Putin's Russia, I'll still be intrigued, watching as many matches as I can.

Unlike Gaelic football currently, there's greater unpredictability, although the global game's biggest competition is still most likely to be won by a previous winner – Argentina, Brazil, France, Germany, or Spain. Maybe even one from further back. Like Uruguay. Grins.

I know there'll be plenty of poor games along with way to the final. With age comes a certain wisdom, an understanding that there isn't really a pressing need to watch Morocco v Iran or Panama v Tunisia (although I'm not prepared to miss many other matches – and I've just guaranteed that those two will be classics).

My family through marriage means I'm hoping that the Super Eagles will soar and become the first African winners; admittedly I'll settle for them becoming the first semi-finalists from that continent. My job might be at risk if Nigeria did actually get to the final.

If there was any possible way that I could avoid finding out the result and instead watch a recording of the final when I get home, I'd do that. I may bring blinkers and noise-cancelling headphones to Croke, and refuse to speak to anyone from 4pm onwards, or to look at any websites or my phone.

Otherwise, fingers crossed for no Ulster team to be in Croke Park on July 15, because I won't really need to go there then, will I, boss? Will I?!

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