Home GAA John ‘Bubbles’ O’Dwyer Did Not Let Down His County By Swearing on RTE

John ‘Bubbles’ O’Dwyer Did Not Let Down His County By Swearing on RTE

“I’m going to Disneyland” is the phrase yelled into the camera every year by the Super Bowl MVP.

Former New York Giants quarterback Phil Simms first coined the phrase after he was crowned Super Bowl MVP in the Giants 39-20 win over the Denver Broncos in 1987, and it has since become synonymous with post-Super Bowl interviews.

The GAA doesn’t quite have the same standard phrase for players after they win an All-Ireland, but the ‘shout’ has become a popular choice by players.

The yelp, the scream, the assault on the microphone after winning an All-Ireland. Kerry forward-cum-midfielder Kieran Donaghy popularised the ‘shout’ two years ago after calling out RTE analyst Joe Brolly for criticising a lack of depth in Kerry football following the Kingdom’s All-Ireland win over Donegal.

Donaghy’s comments could have been preordained but the majority of players interviewed after an All-Ireland win react in the heat of the moment. The last thing in the world they are thinking about after such a success is what they might say to the media.

We saw it with Robbie Brady in France at Euro 2016 in the summer when he told RTE’s Tony O’Donoghue “I don’t know what to say – my head isn’t really working.”

Brady’s goal against Italy was over two years in the making and helped secure one of the biggest wins in Irish football history.

Tipperary’s John ‘Bubbles’ O’Dwyer was put in a similar situation on Sunday when he was interviewed just moments after winning his first All-Ireland medal.

“2014 is forgotten but we’re All-Ireland champions in 2016,” O’Dwyer told RTE after the game.

“People have been doubting this team but we knew exactly what we had in this team and dressing room in 2016. Everyone doubted us from the start of the year, we proved our doubters wrong tonight, we’re champions of fucking Ireland.”

When I watched O’Dwyer’s interview live, I thought it was a great moment. A player that had played in both All-Ireland finals in 2014, had suffered the agony of defeat, only to return to Croke Park and beat the very side that triumphed over his team only two years earlier. Phenomenal.

But when I heard the line “we’re champions of fucking Ireland”, I knew what was coming next – the inevitable, forced television apology, where the broadcaster disregards whatever they had planned to say in favour of apologising on behalf of the player who swore.

Sure as night follows day, an apology was issued by Ger Canning and RTE moved on with their coverage. When Canning apologised to RTE viewers, I sat and wondered ‘Who really has a problem with O’Dwyer dropping a slight ‘f-bomb’ after winning the All-Ireland.’

Evidently, a lot of people.

The top comment on a Balls.ie Facebook post regarding O’Dwyer’s interview read “Let himself down. Heat of the moment but still, no need for it. Callanan showed him how to do it properly soon after.”

To which one user replied “Nobody said he didn’t play a fantastic game but he still let himself and his county down in the interview.”

Both comments received enough likes to suggest that the opinion isn’t limited to just a few bitter Kilkenny fans, but rather that there is actually a sizeable amount of people who think O’Dwyer let himself and/or his county down.

Remember, this wasn’t someone who tested positive for performance enhancers or who had disgraced his team with some lewd act, this was a guy who was criticised for celebrating.

Olympic boxer Michael Conlan was widely defender last month for a foul mouthed tirade after his unanimous decision loss to Vladimir Nikitin in the Men’s Bantamweight quarter-finals.

Conlan lost via unanimous decision and exploded live on air accusing the AIBA of cheating and corruption.

Conlan had his reasons but is there a double standard of our reaction to both interviews?

Conlan’s tirade was much more vitriolic than O’Dwyer’s celebration and was even sealed off with a defying “I don’t give a fuck if I’m cursing on TV.” A cardinal sin in Irish broadcasting.

So what’s the problem here? Can an athlete swear or curse if he’s been robbed but not do the same in victory?

Why should Conlan be defended for his outburst and O’Dwyer condemned for his?

Obviously that’s not the full story. There are those who insist that Conlan should have been more composed and there are also those who have no issue with O’Dwyer’s post-match celebrations. There’s two sides to the coin.

But when we look at O’Dwyer’s critics, I’d argue that the Tipperary corner-forward would have done himself an even bigger disservice if he didn’t curse during his interview.

Yes, he could have scaled his answer back and toned it down, but then it’s not genuine. It’s not authentic. The biggest problem with the post-match interview is that it’s the same thing over and over and over again. It can be painful to listen to.

Substitute the player, change the sport, alter the question, most of the time you’re still going to get the same response from an athlete.

If it’s before the game it’s usually something along the lines of “Yeah look we have to keep our head down this week and really focus on [insert opponent]. They’re a strong team and have got a couple of really good players we need to be wary of, so if we can stop them, we’ll give ourselves a really good chance of winning the game.”

And if it’s after the game, it’s generally “Full credit to [insert opponent]. They gave us a really tough match this afternoon but I’m really proud of our boys for how they performed and we’ll just re-group now and build towards next week.”

You’ve heard it so many times in so many different places that you’re probably surprised you’re not mumbling it in your sleep, as so many sports stars do time and time again in front of the camera.

When we get down to the crux of it, what’s more insulting, a slip of the tongue from O’Dwyer or Brian Cody trying to convince us that Offaly and Wexford are still as strong as they were twenty years ago?

What O’Dwyer said in his post-match interview won’t go down well with the RTE brass, but at least the Tipp native was honest and real.

The counter-argument is usually ‘my kids are watching, they shouldn’t have to hear that kind of stuff on the Sunday Game’.

The advent of the internet and the mass use of social media and mobile phone technology means your kids are probably subject to much worse than what Bubbles O’Dwyer could conjur up after winning an All-Ireland.

We no longer live in an Ireland where the Archbishop must be contacted for every burgeoning controversy. Sensitive ears will quickly be de-sensitised in modern Ireland, especially if the subject is exposed to the GAA, your local pub, a bus stop or the great outdoors.

If you were offended sitting at home watching O’Dwyer’s post-match interview, then there’s a strong chance you would have been simply mortified sitting in the stands during the game at Croker, where what is yelled from the grandstand is usually far worse than what is said on the field.

There’s no need for an athlete to swear in an interview but there’s also no need to judge or criticise them if they do. Foul mouthed tirade’s generally don’t have a place on national broadcasters, and they shouldn’t, but give me authenticity over media trained puppets any day of the week, and in O’Dwyer’s case, twice on Sundays.

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