I was at an All-Ireland Semi-Final once. It was in 1975 and Sligo played Kerry. I was twelve years of age. I’d forgotten that Sligo had to play Mayo twice (another year of replays!) and eventually became Connaught Champions by a 1 point victory. It was plenty 🙂
I remember going to Dublin with my parents and at least one brother, if not the two. We had Black and White Flags, ribbons and hats. It was mighty. Yes Kerry was Kerry but dreams were real. Alas, Sligo was badly beaten. I hadn’t remembered the score but just checked and see it was 3:13 – 0:5
A long journey home!
There’s no denying the excitement of these days for Mayo people at home and away. I imagine the twelve year old me draped, not in Black and White but, in Green and Red – heading to Dublin. Walking to Croke Park in his father and mother’s shadow, finding a voice to roar and with a heart to hope. Total commitment to the team and total belief too. Crucial.
These words will be a faded memory, the ups and downs of this week likewise, when people still discuss the All-Ireland Final of 2017. The kicks, the misses, the cards, the decisions, the most minute detail of the seventy plus minutes will be told and re-told for years to come. Analysists all. The admiration though has to be for the men on the field who have given so, so much – sacrificed literally – to play the biggest game of their lives on the biggest platform imaginable – Croke Park, on the third Sunday of September.
Truly the majority of Ireland is rooting for Mayo. Chances are, even in “Dublin’s Fair City”, there are some who would not begrudge the taillights of a coach or train heading Westwards with Sam Maguire among the passengers. There are people who have followed, supported, wished and dreamt a lifetime’s following, supporting, wishing and dreaming. There are too, twelve year olds, five year olds, twenty year olds …. waiting.
Ah, to win just once!