The Week Wot Was, Monday 1st July, 2013

Captain Fantastic: A suited and booted Brian O’Driscoll winning the Lions tour

IT WAS A WEEK dominated by sport, sport and more sport. The story that flooded print, broadcast and online media was Lions rugby coach Warren Gatland’s decision to drop Lions centre Brian O’Driscoll from the squad’s final test against Australia. The public outcry made one glad and relieved that social media had not been fully developed and widely used during the Keane – McCarthy saga in Saipan.

The palpable disappointment from fans stemmed from the news that Brian O’Driscoll wouldn’t have the sentimental end for which supporters wished. If anything, this underlined the average sporting fan’s desire for fairy- tale endings. It is misguided, however, to assume that glittering sporting careers demand sentimental endings; some of the most remarkable careers in sport have ended under controversial and, ultimately, memorable circumstances. One immediately thinks of French footballing genius Zinedine Zidane walking past the FIFA World Cup Trophy on his way to his team’s dressing room after being sent off in a moment of madness that cost him, and his players, the World Cup.

WIMBLEDON, too, dominated the news, for reasons that are not limited to the field of play. British hopes were high for Scotsman Andy Murray, to point where one wondered whether the Scot would be referred to as “Scottish tennis player Andy Murray” had he lost the men’s final, or if he would be referred to as “British Champion Andy Murray” had he won. Though Murray started to bottle it in the middle of the match, letting his opponent Novak Djokovic, Murray pulled through in an impressive victory, which was long- overdue for the Scot and for British tennis; 77 years of hurt laid to rest. Perhaps “Henman Hill” will now, once and for all, be referred to as “Murray Mound”.

Unfortunately, Wimbledon– long characterised as the ultimate middle- class sport and one in which etiquette is as important as attire (casual being an open- neck shirt without a tie)- was dragged down to a level of pig ignorance more commonly associated with soccer. John Inverdale, the usually polished and classy BBC sports presenter, provoked the ire of many, yesterday, after making a disparaging and insensitive remark about the physical appearance of Women’s singles champion, Marion Bartoli. Speaking on Radio 5 Live, Inverdale posed the question: “Do you think Bartoli’s dad told her when she was little, “You’re never going to be a looker? You’ll never be a Sharapova, so you have to be scrappy and fight”?”

Inverdale’s ill- judged comments were made an hour before Frenchwoman Bartoli’s match against Germany’s Sabine Lisicki and sparked widespread criticism, forcing the BBC issue a grovelling apology. Is John Inverdale a member of the same boy’s club as Andy Gray and Richard Keys? Quite possibly so. An unnecessary lowering of tone for a tournament steeped in class.

While Andy Murray was busy etching his name into the history books by ending a 77 year wait for Wimbledon’s first home champion, DUBLIN HURLERS ended a 52- year drought by winning today’s Leinster Hurling Final in fine style. Clare man Anthony Daly has brought a level of speed, skill and class to the Dublin hurling team that has seen them beat hold Kilkenny to a draw and beat The Cats in a reply and, today, winning Leinster. Is it possible that a  double for Dublin is on the cards? For more on this, read here.

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