Now I don’t know a quarterback from a quarter-pounder, a runningback from a running joke, or a Cheese Head from a cheese-monger; but I, like tens of millions of people all around the world, invested four hours of my life in the self-proclaimed Sports Event of the Year. It didn’t matter that the first ball was kicked at 11:30pm GMT or that the last action came at just after 3am; I stuck with it because it was my unpatriotic duty.
You see, Ireland has nothing in its sporting calender that quite matches the razzmatazz of Super Bowl. Yes, we have the All-Ireland Hurling and Football Finals every September, at Croke Park, where up to 82,000 people dress up in County colours and hope that their heroes will bring home Sam or Liam. But there’s little to no glitz or glamour to proceedings. Instead of Christina belting out a half-arsed concoction of Star-Spangled Banner, we have Miley from Ballygofuckwit, bottle in hand, mouthing half-learned words of Amhran na bhFiann (The Soldiers’ Song), while wondering if his bet will go down the Liffey, come the full-time whistle.
Instead of Fergie and the other goons from the Black Eyed Peas, shouting horrendously nonsensical lyrics into a microphone that doesn’t work properly, we have the Artane Boys Band, walking the length and breadth of the pitch, tooting horns and banging drums, while punters harrass the stadium bars and hot-dog stands (yes, we have hot-dogs in Ireland).
Instead of men, built like fridge-freezers and wrapped up in protective spandex and helmets, running into each other with insane abandon, we have 30 slim-built countrymen, most of whom dispense with the obligatory headgear, who chase after a football or sliotar (a small leather ball, hit by a hurl, hand, foot – or another player, whichever is handiest), knocking seven shades of shit out of their opponent…all for the glory of their county.
Instead of commercial breaks we have RTE’s panel of experts, delivering insights into tactics, team psychology and whether or not Miley’s missus is worth a ride behind the bike shed. Instead of constant stop/starts, we have 70 minutes of blood, guts and thunder – with rules that are understandable by marmosets.
So no, Ireland has nothing on Super Bowl. Not really…
See you in September. Up the Dubs!!