In order to give an insight to a typical working week for an Irish football journalist, The Irish Sun’s Owen Cowzer reveals his busy schedule as he covers the Ireland team at home and abroad, the SSE Airtricity League and deals with an unexploded World War II bomb.
My Week by Owen Cowzer (The Irish Sun)
Tuesday, October 7, 2014
The Ireland squad are in ahead of the Gibraltar game which means the office becomes the Grand Hotel in Malahide for the week.
Roy Keane’s book was also leaked yesterday which is great news for us as a build-up to a game where Ireland are bound to win means there are little talking points to do with the actual match. Darron Gibson and Jeff Hendrick are both put up and, much to the relief of the FAI, neither are big readers so they have little to say about Keane’s book.
There is also Tony Cascarino’s column to ghost write and, as someone who has written one of the better autobiographies, he has plenty to say on Keane’s latest book. Our SSE Airtricity League pull-out also needs to be finished meaning a busy day.
Wednesday, October 8
More book stuff but from an unexpected source as James McClean says he is writing an autobiography. Colleague Neil O’Riordan interviews McClean and Martin O’Neill who looks perplexed at this development.
I speak to Daryl Murphy who is in the best form of his life and hoping for a second Ireland start – seven years after his first one.
It is also time to think ahead to Friday night and work on SSE Airtricity League previews. Most players in the league are helpful and I get a good piece with Dundalk’s Chris Shields.
Thursday, October 9
Roy Keane’s book is officially launched and Neil O’Riordan is spending the day in the Aviva Stadium speed reading ahead of a Press conference later.
I get the glamour gig of going out to a cold, damp and miserable Gannon Park in Malahide. With Keane away to the Aviva, there is no management update and a much smaller Press pack than usual as David Forde speaks to Sunday press and Stephen Quinn to everyone else.
It is the first time Irish Press have got the chance to speak to Quinn since Jack Grealish claimed he was called him a “fake Paddy.” Quinn calls it banter and is surprised it has become a story that “has grown arms and legs” and points out that his own son is born in England.
By a stroke of luck, the subject does not get brought up by broadcast media meaning it will still be fresh news by the time the morning papers come out. Were it not for Keane’s Press conference, it would probably be on all the back pages.
Friday, October 10
Martin O’Neill and Marc Wilson do the pre-match press conference in the Grand Hotel in Malahide at midday. From Malahide, it is off to the Aviva Stadium for the Gibraltar Press conference and then on the road again to Belfield for UCD versus Cork City.
Cork won comfortably though the quote of day was Gibraltar manager Allen Bula who gets annoyed when asked should the minnows have to pre-qualify for the qualifiers.
He says: “How do you judge a minnow? By the size of the country or by results? Then Brazil are a minnow because they lost 7-0 to Germany.”
Little did he know…
Saturday, October 11
The Ireland game does not start until 5pm but there is still work to be done beforehand as I head into the Irish Sun office early to get the stats for Wednesday’s SSE Airtricity League pull-out done and write up a reaction piece from Cork City’s John Caulfield on their win on Friday night.
Then there is a SWAI meeting off Baggot Street that afternoon before the game at the Aviva Stadium. It is a nice game to cover as Ireland win comfortably with all the goals coming early enough. The worst nights are when there is an injury-time goal to alter the result.
After heading down to the mixed zone to get quotes for Monday’s paper – colleague Gordon Manning gets player quotes for Sunday’s paper and Neil O’Riordan speaks to Martin O’Neill – I get home to find out John Delaney is on the Saturday Night Show.
I’m not sure why.
Sunday, October 12
Up early to start writing reaction pieces for Monday’s paper before leaving for Malahide for the daily management update.
Roy Keane is asked has there been any friction with John O’Shea after he wrote that he played like a “clown” – in the book, he says it was a joke – against Cristiano Ronaldo which led to Manchester United signing the winger.
Keane responds no saying: “Sheasey has a brain, he knows what was said, unlike the rest of you.”
Whether on Twitter or somewhere else, this gets turned into Keane saying hacks have no brains as a key part of the sentence is ignored. Keane does not appear to like the Press though he draws the line on calling us brainless.
It is back to the Grand to finish writing Monday’s paper and then to the airport for a flight to Dusseldorf for the Germany game.
The flight is uneventful enough (most hacks were reading a certain autobiography) before my first run-in with Germany railway ticket machines which can try your patience. At least there were beers to calm the nerves.
Monday, October 13
Most of the Press are staying in Essen and it is up early for a conference call with Niall Quinn while others head for the Germany Press conference in the local Mercedes showroom.
Then there is a train to Gelsenkirchen and tram to the Veltins Arena for Martin O’Neill and Robbie Keane’s pre-match Press conference.
After writing that up, it is back to the tram in the hope of getting back to Essen in time to catch the end of Dundalk’s game with Shamrock Rovers. More trouble with Germany railway ticket machines means a spot of fare evasion. And we didn’t get back in time for the game either.
Tuesday, October 14
Up early to finish off Wednesday’s SSE Airtricity League pull-out, a walk around Essen to see the sights (not many) and an early dinner for the usual train and tram ride to the Veltins Arena.
The highlight of the journey is the cultural exchange between an Irish and German fan on the tram. The German starts by singing ‘Come out ye black and tans’ and the response is ‘numfty numpf red balloons.’
Press box etiquette is briefly broken as there are cheers when John O’Shea equalises before the realisation that the 1,000 word match report you have needs to be rewritten and filed 30 seconds ago.
Ten minutes of frantic rewriting later, I get down to the player mixed zone – colleague Neil O’Riordan is at Martin O’Neill’s Press conference – fearing I would be late though the Herald’s Aidan Fitzmaurice is the only other daily newspaper reporter there. Those pesky rewrites!
John O’Shea is one of the last out and I hang on to get him for obvious reasons filing my quotes piece just before 11pm Irish time.
Then it is the usual tram and train journey back to Essen though the efficient Germans let us down again as there is a 90 minute wait in Gelsenkirchen for the next train.
Instead there is a celebratory kebab and beer on the station concourse that is filled by Irish fans just wanting to get the train back to Essen as well. The train is full and I am pretty sure no one has paid for a ticket.
Wednesday, October 15
Got back late to my hotel the night before though spent a few hours using the free Wi-Fi to check other games around Europe rather than sleeping which I regret when my alarm goes off the following morning.
The fact that there is a train strike that afternoon also means getting to Dusseldorf Airport a lot earlier than planned as it appears most of Germany takes the afternoon off to get home.
I chance my arm with Aer Lingus to get on an earlier flight hoping that a few Irish fans have over imbibed the not before but have no luck meaning I am instead stuck in the airport for six hours.
There is plenty of work to get through with reaction to the Germany game and a Sunday piece with Aiden McGeady to write up.
The flight home turns out to be an adventure in itself. An unexploded World War II bomb is found out on the airfield meaning my flight is diverted to Cologne and, after some confusion, we are all put on a bus there too to fly home.
This involves four hours of travelling and queuing before arriving home at 4am.
Thursday, October 16
My late night flight is on the front page of the Irish Sun after I called it in but it doesn’t get me any sympathy.
An email late on Wednesday night lets me know we have loads of space in Friday’s paper and we need another international spread.
But before that, the first task is an interview with Dundalk’s Dane Massey who is the SSE Airtricity SWAI Player of the Month for September.
It also serves as a reminder of why I am glad I don’t do live broadcast work.
Massey scored a great free kick against Shamrock Rovers in the EA Sports Cup final which I wrongly think is a rarity for him.
He very politely points out that, not only has he scored more free kicks, but he scored one earlier in September against Derry City.
What makes it worse was that I covered the Derry City game as well! I’m blaming the sleep deprivation for my stupidity.
Then it is into the office and a phone interview with Darren O’Dea. Darren is training with Celtic at the moment and played in the 6-1 loss to Germany in 2012 so he has a good perspective on the result in Gelsenkirchen and what faces Ireland at Celtic Park in November.
By the time everything is done, I’m ready for bed.
Check out previous ‘My Weeks’ from SWAI members…
Darren Cleary on a hectic week of media events, a Cup final, and a marquee match
Tommy Martin on what goes into producing a live match on TV
Tony O’Donoghue on covering Martin O’Neill’s first week as Ireland boss