The Dublin-Kerry All-Ireland final looms this weekend. When the dust of sorrow settles, the sunshine of memory will raise a few smiles. We do what we can with smiles, using them as we want. Memory is stoked by chance and intention. We can choose it, or it can choose us. Aware or not, memory is always welcome because it is shored up by our experience. It is part of who we are.
Every niggle of negativity will give way to the flooded heart of blessings, no matter how small, no matter how seemingly irrelevant. Everything counts in memory but only the good survives to nourish and replenish us.
It was a long road, the scenic ‘back door.’ A happy person is one who enjoys the scenery on the detour. The back door is definitely a detour! And Mayo football fans are a happy bunch. Match after match after match along with mile after mile after mile. Some travelled the road, others took the road less travelled. Tiring, but never tiresome, they all arrived.
That was then, and this is now, and we are on the trail of memory. It will provide sustenance through the long winter. How often will we marvel at Lee Keegan’s little fleet foot flick in the semi-final? In one simple swoop he proved that the Dublin net can tremble, even if it was the only goal conceded in the Championship by Dublin this year. Sure that in itself weaves another little smile!
And how could we ever forget that Mayo are League Champions? Yes, silverware! God helps us! It was a long time coming but come it did. It is now recorded and cannot be undone. Its memory will cause a few smiles to ripple when freezing temperatures embrace the dark nights. The memory will warm us regardless of how Mother Nature unfurls her winter fleece.
The Mayo senior football team has blessed us for years. They have been our fellow sojourners, like an interwoven seam in our lives, part of who we are. The Mayo team forms part of our DNA. The ‘they’ of the team and supporters form an interconnecting union. Together we are the dance – player and supporter, independent yet dependent.
To those who say ‘Mayo lost’, just point to the Croke Park full house on semi-final day. Steer them to MacHale Park on match day. Tell them about the journeymen and women who traipse, Ann Baynes-style, around the country’s highways and byways to wave the green and red. Mayo might not win every match but they never lose. They cannot because we cannot lose ourselves. We are all Mayo.
There will be change and changes, just like day into night and weeks into months. Time is a belt worn by everybody. There are no exceptions. We all buckle up. The year 2020 is looming with all its promised vision. Can it live up to its name? Regardless, the team will tog and we will support.
We shall continue to do what we always did, what we are meant to do; play our part as we know they will play theirs. They create while we co-create alongside, furrowing fresh memories on the field of dreams. Good days and not so good days will visit us. Games will unravel and results spill over. All the time we will be there, in person, in hope, in spirit.
We are who we are because they are who they are. That works both ways in the confluence of dance where player and supporter participate, where the two become one.
In the quiet nights of winter when the team might feel the cold a little harder we need to reassure them, all of them, that we are here. Boost them when their shoulders drop, encourage them when the what-ifs are too strong, bolster them in their confidence that we are all in this together. We all have a part to play and none of it includes negativity or criticism.
We need to say thanks, plain and simple. So thanks lads – players, management and back-room teams. Thanks from the bottom of our hearts, again and again. You make us proud. We stand with you, always.