The French players themselves might appear as interested in World Cup progress as a full-up boulanger presented with yesterday’s Cuisine de France scones, but surely any right-thinking Irish football lover watching last night’s clash with Mexico on RTE must have been willing the French into an unlikely recovery.
In fact, a late cameo from Thierry Henry and a hat-trick of punched goals would have the only suitable reward for a disgraceful night’s work from the national broadcaster.
Nothing at all against the Mexicans, who fully deserved their victory. Nor are the French players due much sympathy – they earned their scorn.
But RTE’s clambering aboard the sickening anti-French bandwagon that has gained extraordinary momentum since Paris was appalling.
For the most part, of course, this bandwagon has been cynically propelled along by companies like Curry’s and Pizza Hut and News Corporation with as much connection to Ireland as L’Equipe. Sure there has been no shortage of leprechauns willing to discard their plastic hammers beneath its wheels but among genuine Irish footballer supporters, the prevailing attitude was “c’est la vie.”
Not so in Montrose – where you couldn’t be surprised to find Freedom Fries on the canteen menu.
And like all these things, eventually the media eventually create a phenomenon that never existed until they started banging on about it.
After all, for years RTE and the Irish Times imagined an enormous thirst for rugby coverage among its consumers before eventually that prophesy was fulfilled.
For months, they have pushing the Le Cheat agenda in their advertising and yesterday that campaign reached its natural conclusion in the unseemly gloating at France’s demise.
“A team in green is extracting Ireland’s retribution on France,” shrieked George, the only surprise he didn’t point out the irony in our new brethren’s shared fondness for the Ole Oles.
“A result that will please Ireland,” he announced at the finish, confirming his appointment as national bitterness spokesman.
Back in the studio, Bill O’Herlihy warmed to the theme, poring over the Group Table to see if he could hasten France’s exit, eventually settling for…
“It’s out of their hands, that’s the most important thing.”
For once it was Eamon Dunphy who provided the voice of reason, able to express his admiration for the Mexicans and disgust with the French performance without tacking on an outlet for our self-absorption. “I don’t care about the Paris stuff. I really don’t.”
Next time we target the English media for their obsession with 1966, we should remember that Eamon’s was the minority view.