A tribute to Brian Kerr, a football man
We should cherish Brian Kerr while we're lucky enough to be able to listen to him.
The World Cup is a telling competition. It is nearly always responsible for the unearthing of a brilliant talent that was otherwise unknown.
Four years ago, we had James Rodriguez turn into a global superstar with the swing of his left foot against Uruguay. Eight years ago, football was introduced to one of all-time great villains in Luis Suarez.
And this year, the biggest talking point so far has been Brian Kerr on commentary.
This is not necessarily new information, but he is only really being appreciated now.
Kerr is a football man, through and through.
Five years ago, I was playing in a Leinster final for my school in Marlay park. We won the game 3-1.
A former Irish international manager was in attendance. Just watching.
He didn't have to be there. He wasn't working at the match. He was just there because he likes watching football.
That's a trait that shouldn't be rare among the nation's football men, and yet it is.
Kerr was the manager of a number of youth teams at international level, and boasts an extremely impressive CV in the role. He won the under-16 and under-18 European Championships, at a point when no Irish team had ever won a trophy before.
None have won one since, either.
He had talents such as Damien Duff, Richard Dunne, Robbie Keane and John O'Shea at his disposal, but he got the best out of them, like no other manager was able to.
Ireland haven't produced a world class player since these lads came through the ranks, and are showing absolutely no sign of producing another one soon.
As a fanbase, we are absolutely fawning over Declan Rice, who appears to be quite a good player, but at his age, Duff and Keane were tearing the Premier League apart.
Irish football is in a tough place, and having a proper football man involved in some way, would definitely help.
Kerr clearly knows his football, and despite an unsuccessful run as international manager of the senior side, it is absolutely ridiculous that the FAI haven't ensured he is involved in some way.
We don't have enough football men in the country. Kerr is one.
We are reminded of this with every single international game that we watch, and the punditry that we are given. At the weekend, we saw Eamon Dunphy talk about the Brazillian keeper Alisson, and how he must be in line for a move to Europe soon.
Honestly this is just an embarrassment. According to Dunphy, the #BRA goalkeeper Alisson will be coming to Europe soon to play for one of the top clubs. To not even bother doing even the most basic research anymore... it's only the #WorldCup pic.twitter.com/RKuCDcnHva
— Pádraig Whelan (@PWhelan88) June 17, 2018
You know, Alisson, Roma's goalkeeper? Roma, the Italian club team's goalkeeper? Roma, who got to the Champions League semi-final's goalkeeper?
Now, everyone is entitled to a mistake, but there is a difference between a mistake and a lack of interest.
It is abundantly obvious that Eamon Dunphy and co are not as interested in football as they once were.
This wouldn't be an issue, if they weren't the main footballing voices that this country has to offer.
Compare them to Kerr, and his encyclopedic knowledge of every single player in the tournament. It's lucky that Kerr is on co-commentary, because having Dunphy and co trying to debate football with Kerr would be like watching a neurosurgeon discus the inner-workings of a brain with a drunk toddler.
And it's not like he's a bore, either. We've already been gifted to just some of his idioms this tournament, including:
"He went down like a big whinge-bag!"
"Looks like he's banjo'd now alright!"
and "Stefan Milinkovic-Savic... that's only one bloke."
— SportsJOE (@SportsJOEdotie) June 18, 2018
Kerr doesn't sound like anyone else, because he's not trying to.
He's commentating on the game the way he would be if he was just chatting about a match with his mates, all the while managing to appear insightful at the same time.
And who could forget his iconic take on Shaqiri?
— Today FM (@TodayFM) December 9, 2017
That should go down in history as one of the best pieces of commentary of all time.
We're not alone in having to listen to a great deal of nonsense from pundits, after all, the BBC are still paying Danny Murphy for his opinion. At least Dunphy is entertaining. You're bound to get a laugh out of him, and if that's what you want, then he's perfect.
But if you want your so-called "football expert" to be a football expert, Brian Kerr is the man.
We're lucky to have so many interesting characters on Irish television, and even more fortunate that we are able to watch every single World Cup game, but it's just a shame that we have to listen to some members of the punditry team that just don't make the effort anymore.
But luckily, we occasionally get to listen to a genuine genius in Brian Kerr.
A proper football man.