Monday, May 28, 2007

Same Old Story Has Happy Ending For Donegal

These alternative endings are the way of the future. What with interactive digital technology and all, soon you'll be able to choose whether you want to see Matt Damon or Tobey Maguire or whoever outwit the evil mastermind and ride off with the expensively upholstered lady into the sunset, or whether you'd prefer him to plummet off a cliff to a gruesome death on some spikes.

Yes, the modern world, sheesh. There I was, watching an old re-run yesterday afternoon - you know, the one where a snarling Armagh grab Donegal by the throat and put them up against a wall, so that their little legs are dangling helplessly and they flail impotently - when, quite unexpectedly (I must have pressed a button on my Super-Digi-BluRay remote control by accident while reaching for another Tesco Finest triple choc-chip cookie) the alternative ending came on.

Suddenly one of Donegal's little thrashing legs connected plum with Armagh's voluminous goolies, and the beast went crashing to the ground, allowing Donegal to ride off with the expensively upholstered lady into the sunset.

Vorsprung durch Technik indeed!

Imagine if we had this technology before now? Gordon Hamilton scores for Ireland in the 1991 World Cup quarter-final, Michael Lynagh has the chance to win it for Australia...oooh knock-on, scrum Ireland, peep-peep-peep, Ireland into semis.

Wim Kieft's header spins toward the bottom corner to send Ireland out of Euro 88....oooh Bonner saves, McGrath clears, peep-peep-peep, Ireland into semis.

Geoff Hurst with the the it in?....oooh Russian linesman waves away English appeals, goal-kick, up the other end, Beckenbauer, on the Kopf, 3-2, peep-peep-peep, they think it's all over, it is now.

Technology can't assuage feelings of guilt of course, as consumers of internet pornography will testify in the moments after download, and yesterday's surprising turn of events might have induced a small amount of embarassment in Donegal folk at the purloining of the win from a deserving Armagh.

I say might, but not likely. The oppressed tend to feel little sympathy for the expelled subjugator. I'm sure as the Germans withdrew from Paris in 1944, the locals weren't wondering if they hadn't, perhaps, been a little hard on them.

The trajectory of yesterday's Ulster Championship match - up until the alternative ending - was so familiar as to seem almost choreographed. The two teams duke it out physically for a bit; Armagh frustrate Donegal's easily frustrated forwards; Armagh snatch a goal, topped off with a few points; Armagh dig in, catenaccio-style, allowing Donegal's response to founder on the thick, reinforced walls of their defence; Donegal are driven demented by the futility of it all and fall on their own sword, usually resulting in a couple of red cards.

So many times over the last decade have these two played out these roles that yesterday was almost reassuring in its inevitability. Some things don't change, eh? In this Super-Digi-BluRay world, some things are enduring.

Hey, even though Brendan Devenney's hopeful balloon slipped through Paul Hearty's grasp, as Kevin Cassidy lurked like a malevolent spirit in the corner of his eye, thereby providing Donegal with the win, does that mean that something new happened yesterday? Have Armagh not proven that they remain forceful competitors and sage match-players? Did Donegal not re-arouse the belief that they can be got at, broken up and scattered away?

Or was yesterday's shock denouement the sign that - as they demonstrated throughout the League - an indefatigable spirit is suddenly alive in Donegal when it counts, in the Championship.
Just because you change the ending, does the story remain the same?

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