IRISH actor and Hollywood star Colm Meaney stars alongside former footballer Peter Crouch in the latest advertising campaign by Paddy Power.
The Irish betting site has cast Meaney in their television advert, which is being released just ahead of the Cheltenham horse racing festival.
Saddling up to walk the line of sporting rivalry between Ireland and Great Britain, Irishman Meaney comes face-to-face with ex-England International Peter Crouch at the gates of the hallowed racetrack in the advert.
The Gangs of London actor is seen disembarking from a bus packed full of fellow Irish racegoers – including RTE racing pundit and former jockey Jane Mangan - when he runs straight into ‘the opposition,’ led by Crouch.
Supported by his leading lady, model and wife Abbey Clancy, the squad of British racing fans – and Shaun Williamson, aka ‘Barry’ from Eastenders – get stuck into ‘the visitors’, with Crouchy the first to strike.
“Oi, Oi. Didn’t think you lads would turn up this year,” he smirks.
Meaney kicks back inferring that everyone knows Cheltenham is Ireland’s “patch.”
But Williamson intervenes, stating: “You’ve been punching above your weight for too long.”
At this point Mrs Crouch chimes in that she’s been saying the same thing about her hubby for years
As the exchange cranks up a gear, Meaney returns, claiming the last time the home side had more winners at Cheltenham they “still had an economy”.
The mudslinging continues apace when Crouchy brings up the sore point of Ireland’s failure to qualify for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar and Barry alleges St Patrick was Welsh.
‘The Irish’ retort sets a gear change in motion when someone in the background yells, “At least he wasn’t English!”
Soon, labels like “penalty chokers,” “stew eaters” and “queue lovers” are traded as both sides discharge a volley of ridiculous insults back and forth.
But an incensed Williamson crosses the line when he levels Meaney and co., roaring an insult from which there is almost no recovery.
He realises he has taken the name of a hallowed Irish national treasure in vain when everything comes to a jarring halt.
An incredulous Meaney replies: “We’re just having a bit of craic!”
The awkward exchange is quickly swept to one side and when embarrassed Crouch insists he apologise.
The ad concludes with Crouchy and Meaney standing side by side as they push their way through the turnstiles to attend the Festival, which kicks off on March 14.
Speaking about the campaign, having also starred in Paddy Power’s 2021 Cheltenham advertising campaign, Meaney admitted: “These are so enjoyable to do because good humoured sports banter like that between rivals is always going to be fun.”
He added: “Peter Crouch was terrific. I was obviously familiar with his football career having followed it for years, so I was delighted to meet him - not forgetting our friend Shaun Williamson, who is so funny. He is terrific in the ad.”
Spokesperson for the bookmaker, Paddy Power gushed: “Colm Meaney is a larger-than-life actor, so we knew we needed someone of equal stature to take him on in our ad. Crouchy was the only one who could possibly measure up.”
He added: “If I am honest, nobody really knows how ‘Barry’ ended up in there. I think he just wandered onto set and got caught up in the heat of the moment when he heard Colm firing insults at Crouchy.”