SportTV View

‘Jeeesus’: disappearing goalies, disappearing teams and Kung Fu football leave us all bewildered

Coventry find their inner Limerick to give a scare to Erik ten Hag, whose United will now have the honour of losing to City in the FA Cup final

The art of co-commentating is often undervalued, its practitioners usually only coming to our notice when they say something excessively daft or use 500 words when 10 would do. And that can be their chief failing, their inability to understand that less can be a whole lot more than more.

With that in mind, then, Philly McMahon deserves some saluting for his response to Donegal’s fourth goal on Saturday when, yet again, the Derry goalkeeper Odhran Lynch was caught half a pitch off his line.

“Jeeesus,” he said.

And that summed it up, really, there was no need for further analysis. Thomas Niblock, sitting beside Philly in the BBC Northern Ireland commentary box was obliged to go in to a little more detail, otherwise the Derry air would have been left quite dead, but Philly found the single word that was being uttered in the Championship-watching livingrooms of Ireland.


“Jeeesus,” Lee Dixon didn’t say when Coventry scored their third goal at Wembley, when that would have been a perfect Philly-esque summing up of events. Instead he used 500 words when even 10 would have done grand, like, say, “Jeeesus, Mary and Joseph and the wee donkey – lol, lol.”

Roy Keane struggled to find any words at all. “I, I, I, I . . . ,” he told ITV’s Mark Pougatch ahead of the start of extra time, before which Manchester United had chucked a three-goal lead into the London air against a team that has lost 13 Championship matches this season. Ian Wrightie Wright opted for just the two: “I’m bewildered.”

Which, to be honest, some of us were too with RTÉ’s Damian Lawlor’s take on the Derry v Donegal game: “Kung Fu Panda – the secret is there is no secret”.

That, of course, took us off to The Google, whereupon we learnt that Kung Fu Panda Po Ping was “improbably chosen as the prophesied Dragon Warrior” in the movies of that name, and largely prevailed. In that sense Po Ping is the Mickey Harte of League Derry and the Jim McGuinness of Championship Donegal, the doubters left having to scrub copious amounts of egg from their faces.

Mind you, no co-commentator had a tougher time of it over the weekend than Virgin Media’s Grace Davitt. How do you put a happy spin on the concession of 14 tries in an 88-10 defeat? Not easily. Especially when Ireland defended with all the resolve of Derry during their unguarded net moments.

“I think if they keep it within 25 points that’s probably a good scoreline,” Jenny Murphy had told Joe Molloy pre-match. By the 19th minute it was 26-0. Thereafter? Jeeesus. The IRFU can be blamed for many a thing when it comes to women’s rugby, but possibly not for the team opting not to put in the odd tackle here and there when England bore down on them. “Like a hot knife through butter,” as Jenny described it.

“38-3 at half-time, if you multiply 38 by two . . . it could get ugly for Ireland in the second half,” said Joe. We’d have settled for a multiple of two in the end. Good Lord.

Clare were slicing through Limerick’s butter comfortably enough in that first half in Ennis on Sunday too.

“You’re an Ennis man, have you ever seen anything like it,” Marty Morrissey had asked Jamesie O’Connor when he took to the streets of the town pre-match to take in the feverish atmosphere. “Yeah, two years ago, Marty, when Limerick last came to town,” Jamesie replied, inserting the sharpest of needles in to Marty’s enthusiasm balloon.

And Limerick did the very same to Clare’s balloon when they scored three goals in the blink of a second-half eye, just when we were thinking they might have lost their edge. Two words: Relentless, like.

Which Coventry were back at Wembley. “Manchester United fans have seen this movie before,” said Sam Matterface as we watched yet another implosion, Erik ten Hag growing paler with every second-half minute as Coventry found their inner Limerick.

Lee reckoned Casemiro had the look of a man who was “dragging a caravan”, but that wasn’t actually a slur in Harry Maguire’s direction, him being United’s greatest attacking threat in extra-time. No, really.

Coventry had a “winner” ruled out because Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s toenail was a clipping behind one of their persons, so it went to penalties. United won out, so now have the honour of losing to Manchester City in a repeat of last year’s final.

Wrightie was gutted for Coventry. “Why does football do that to them . . . it’s a cruel mistress,” he said.

“Jeeesus,” read Roy’s face. Erik ten Hag was improbably chosen as United’s prophesied Dragon Warrior. It’s all gone pear-shaped since. He might soon be available for a new gig. (BREAKING: ten Hag is new favourite for Republic of Ireland job on random betting site).