Hot air sends Dunphy to new heights

by John Boland

IT was just before kick-off in the England-USA game and on RTE2 Bill O’Herlihy wanted to know what Eamon Dunphy thought of Wayne Rooney. “A great player,” Eamon sagely pronounced before stepping up the praise a gear or two. “I think he’s magic. He is a great, great player. He could light up this World Cup.” And, as if that wasn’t enough: “He’s a nice kid.”

Maybe Jamie Heaslip should have opted for being nice in that morning’s rugby debacle against the All Blacks, a match so embarrassing that I kept having to leave the room — though niceness wasn’t about to get Wayne anywhere either.

But that’s jumping ahead. In the meantime, would England miss Rio Ferdinand? John Giles thought not. “I’ve never really rated Ferdinand,” he informed Bill, though he conceded that “he’s very attractive to look at.” He meant as a footballer, but he had me worried there for a second.

Five minutes into the game Steven Gerrard scored and ITV commentator Clive Tyldesley promptly had an orgasm. “GERRAAAARD!!!” he roared exultantly, drowning out the ever-constant vuvuzelas for at least 10 seconds.

Thirty-five minutes later came goalie Robert Green’s catastrophe and at half-time in the ITV studio, anchorman Adrian Chiles was speaking of “the usual mixture of hope and horror” that is the English supporter’s lot.

Gareth Southgate was being more sympathetic. “You can only feel for the lad,” Gareth said of Green’s monumental cock-up, adding: “I don’t think we can blame the ball” — which was reassuring news for those of us who’d listened to Eamon’s extended rant the previous night about the “flighty balls” being used in this World Cup.

“England have been miserable,” Graeme Souness told Bill at half-time, and at the end Eamon thought them “astonishingly inept”.

John Giles agreed. “No cohesion,” was his verdict. Then Eamon went off on a rant about the reasons for England’s dismal performance, during which he turned twice to Graeme, barking “Let me finish!” at him on both occasions.

“But I haven’t said anything,” Graeme mildly protested — and indeed he hadn’t.

The ITV lads all thought Emile Heskey outstanding, but Eamon thought he was rubbish. So was he the reason why England were so awful? Well, that and Capello’s decision to play Gerrard and Lampard together at midfield — about which Eamon, John and Graeme were quite engrossing, unlike their ITV counterparts who opted for platitudinous bewilderment instead of analysis.

But Graeme had another theory for England’s wretched display, suggesting that unfamiliarity with the South African altitude might have accounted for their “laboured” performance. “But I’m at 5,000 feet all the time,” Eamon replied.

Ain’t that the truth.

By John Boland, Irish Independent

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