Slugger O'Toole

Conversation, politics and stray insights

Olympics: Are southerners begrudging British success?

Sun 5 August 2012, 12:15pm

Irish broadcasters seem to be bravely resisting any hint of Brit fever emerging from the Olympics last night, at least judging from the websites. The Games are restricted to their special corrals and not allowed to intrude into the News sections. RTE’s home lead goes big on “Man held over attack in Tuam.” ( Was there nothing bigger than that for Ireland out of London 2012?)  TV3 looks similar although the alternative channel did make something out of a Belfast boxer.

Paddy Barnes walked like a champion as he stepped out of the darkness and into the London light in the ExCeL Arena on Saturday afternoon.

Aiming to become the first Irish athlete to medal at two successive Olympics since Pat O’Callaghan in 1932, Barnes opened his campaign with a solid 15-10 win against Cameroon’s Thomas Essomba.

It took until day eight of the Games for the Belfast light-flyweight to get his first taste of Olympic action thanks to a bye which saw him straight through to the last 16.

Yesterday’s  Irish Times website had a front page pic of a Venezuelan at the Velodrome of all places! How perverse can you get?  Did any excitement stir in the south over the Coleraine successes? The Sunday Indo’s website seems generous enough, although I can’t judge the weight given to their coverage as I haven’t seen the layout of the hard copy paper.

Have I got  the wrong impression? Does anyone  have a clearer and objective view of the Dublin-based coverage of London 2012?  To be fair, draconian overseas copyright restrictions on BBC coverage outside the UK imposed by the IOC are hampering not only Olympics coverage  but even news, though these have been slightly eased. However this should open up opportunities to other broadcasters.

I would hardly expect the Dublin media to share full on the British excitement. This time they lack a hero all Ireland could share like Sonia O’Sullivan. Sonia it will be remembered carried the Olympic torch down O’Connell St in June. The sharing of the relay with Ireland  was a splendid gesture which deserved an equally warm response.

Instead might old fashioned Irish chippiness over British successes be rearing its head  at a time when the Brits are on the up and not  bowing their heads  in contrition?  Or is there a simple lack of identification with Olympic sports, unlike the great Irish enthusiasm for the Premier League? Or again, is the Irish media feeling swamped by the massive BBC coverage and doing their own thing within the limits of their latest cutbacks?

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