John McDonnell's defensive abilities show no signs of wilting under the increasing weight of years. Like a well aged Angus steak, the St. Patrick's Athletic boss has matured well. He sees the bigger picture, not the one-eyed view of most football managers. Consideration for those with whom we share the planet, our treatment of said orb - these are but two of the issues which he has used his exalted position to address.
First there was the case of the bawdy Cork supporters. Ingrates, who felt that the admission price to the Shed in Turner's Cross conferred the right of judgement upon them. The so called 'fans' turned on whiter than white Barry Ryan. In his post match interview did John talk about the game - no he did not. This is the mark of the man; the concern for the feelings of another human being, and one of his players at that, was precedent in his thoughts.
Obviously addicted to the warm and fuzzy feeling he got from that intervention, our hero was waiting in a phonebox for his next mission. Knowing not the when or where is the lot of such a man. Coincidentally, it was again a crowd of football supporters who irked him. Taking time out from his duties as manager of the Saints, he again took on the role of Moral Custodian with Special Responsibility for Football Fans (or MCWSRFFF to use up a bit more space) . Richmond Park, home of the Saints was the setting - and not a Cork City fan in sight.
This time it was the pesky Saints supporters. Most probably relatives of the Cork shower, they too dwelt beneath the illusion that you could pay and say. Again the Supersaint used the media to extend his message to the world. Pats fans had been brazen enough to voice unpleasant opinions towards members of their own side within earshot of our Football Nuncio. This was not cricket.
Then a dodgy run of results realigned Johnny Mc's crosshair. The recent win over Longford Town has finally seen his side put maximum points on the board again. Unburdened following the win, our hero was left with enough space in his life to take up the cause again. This time he saw green. His charge towards the winsome Longford Town substitutes was reminiscent of the bovine activities in Pamplona.
THE GRASS! - Back into the dressing room Barry - THE GRASS! The young substitutes were astonished - embarrassed even - by such treehuggery; truly this was a man in touch with his innermost feelings, displaying not the vaguest whiff of discomfort with them. A prolonged exchange of unpleasantries ensued; the intensity of this served only to underline John McDonnell's commitment to making the world a better place for humankind to live - and he's prepared to fight for it. So stay out of his way.
So next Monday night when St. Pats and Shamrock Rovers collide on Setanta at 8pm don't dare change channels after the final whistle; there are pearls to be had. The real showdown is the Battle of John and Pat and it promises to be as intriguing as anything that precedes it.