The phenomenon that is Normal People keeps rolling on. If you’ve read Sally Rooney’s award-winning book, if you’ve watched the acclaimed show, if you’re on board with Connell’s chain having its own social media accounts, what more can this remarkable drama do for you? Well, how about some sporting controversy? Imagine you’re a young lad doing well on the GAA scene. You’re a goalkeeper – a pretty good goalkeeper at that. Then you get involved with this television drama and all of a sudden you’re being told to stop being so good in goals. That’s what happened to young Adam O’Connor, who spoke to Ray D’Arcy on Tuesday to set the record straight.
Adam’s performance has been discussed by Irish Times sports reporter Malachy Clerkin on the Second Captains World Service, his skills have been criticised by Dara Ó Briain on social media and Ray reckons he deserves the chance to defend himself. In the hit TV drama, there’s a scene in which Adam is the goalkeeper of the team co-star Paul Mescal’s character, Connell, is playing against. Adam told Ray what instructions he got from director, Lenny Abrahamson:
“The instructions for the day were, Connell was going to run in on goal, and he was going to score a goal. I’d to let it in past me, but make sure to make it look like I was making an effort to go for the ball.”
Sounds straightforward enough, right? Well, Adam is the goalkeeper for the Dublin minor hurling team, so we know he’s good between the sticks. But, says, Ray, pretending to try to stop a shot, but at the same time making sure you let it in, well, “that’s not sport, that’s acting”. Fair enough, though – it’s a TV drama, isn’t it? But as any goalkeeper worth his salt will tell you, a lot of saves come about through sheer instinct. And they don’t teach instinct in drama school.
“Obviously my natural reaction would be to go for the ball, so I found it quite tough at the start, as you can see from the clips.”
The clips Adam’s referring to here are those posted by Lenny Abrahamson on Twitter, showing the young ‘keeper making two quite superb saves from Paul Mescal’s shots, before someone had a word with him. Without seeing the saves Adam made, Dara Ó Briain took to Twitter saying that Adam made a hames of his goalkeeping performance. Ray read what Dara had to say:
“Watched the first episode of Normal People. Hate to join some backlash bandwagon, but Sally Rooney really should’ve written a goalkeeper who made more of an effort with that shot.”
Harsh words. And when Lenny Abrahamson put the two takes featuring Adam’s impressive saves up on Twitter, Adam did what any self-respecting goalkeeper would do:
“I tagged Dara Ó Briain and Malachy Clerkin in it and asked them were they happy with this take and it just blew up from there.”
You can hear Ray’s full chat with Adam here.
Normal People is on Tuesday nights at 10.15 on RTÉ One. You can catch up with it on the RTÉ Player here.
Niall Ó Sioradáin
(Pic: Paul Mescal as Connell in Normal People. Photo by Enda Bowe)
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