I salute the person who came up with the Hell in Mirren headline after those Celtic sad sacks got hammered last night by St. Mirren in that great irrelevancy the Scottish Premiership. A headline that surpassed the event it described.
The Irish rugby teams defeat last Saturday was primarily a tactical one - Kidney failed us for once. He wasn't helped of course by Sexton's kicking failures or by Rory Best's public nervous breakdown, but he presided impotently over a team superior in almost every position that should have won easily. The Scots had a limited game plan - gain territorial position by Parks kicking on the right and Southwell kicking on the left. Then wait for Kaplan to give a penalty which he invariably did. Sexton's penalty misses sowed the seeds of doubt and the scrum and the lineout were a shambles. He should have brought on Buckley, Cullen and Cronin with 15 minutes to go. But instead he adopted a Mr. Micawber approach and inevitably nothing turned up. Mostly in rugby the best team wins. This was a sad exception.
For those of a cynical bent, Cheltenham was a pure delight. Binocular won the Champion Hurdle in fine style at the handsome price of 9-1 after been declared a non-runner a couple of weeks before the race. A few wide boys on the betting exchanges laid him at around 900-1, ostensibly taking advantage of those who hadn't heard or trusted the news. After he suddenly became fit again and romped home you might have expected some recriminations from the British Racing Press (or even the craven Irish hacks). After all we can recall the abuse visited on Jim Bolger after New Approach won the Derby after being declared a doubtful runner. Binocular's trainer is the incorrigibly amiable Nicky Henderson, whereas Bolger is a prickly perfectionist who doesn't suffer fools gladly.