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Frozen assets leave supporters cold


JUST THE TICKETA Connacht Council steward hands out vouchers for future FBD League matches to supporters leaving MacHale Park, Castlebar last Sunday after the Mayo versus Galway game was called off.  Pic: Michael McLaughlin

Mike Finnerty

WELL that escalated fairly quickly, didn’t it?
One minute you’re listening to ‘The Boss’ blaring out from the MacHale Park speakers, wondering ‘is there anybody alive out there?’ as Mayo and Galway supporters arrive in Castlebar for the first in a new season of Sundays.
A few hours later and every second social media user this side of the Shannon is calling on those same fans to march on Connacht GAA HQ in Bekan to demand refunds and heads on plates.
Who says that the FBD League doesn’t matter?
Ironically, last Sunday had started out like any other FBD Sunday: uneventful, eerily quiet and bitterly cold. All that was missing was some heavy rain.
Two hours before throw-in and nothing was stirring, except for the hardy stewards who were huddled together in the main stand for warmth and the stadium DJ who was toying with our emotions.
He kicked off with an instrumental number, then pumped up the volume with some R.E.M. before rolling out ‘Where The Three Counties Meet’, ‘Galway Girl’ and ‘Radio Nowhere’ in quick succession.
‘Who is this maverick Mid West Radio wannabee?’ we wondered.
The Galway players had just arrived and were strolling into their dressing-room when our eclectic friend in the DJ box sent ‘The West’s Awake’ echoing around the empty main stand.
It was 12.45pm and, the music apart, everything seemed fairly normal.
Yours truly popped outside the stadium at this stage to do a shift on a bucket collection in aid of Enable Ireland, our Club Stars charity partner this year.
There’s nothing like a while ‘shaking the bucket’ to remind you that all God’s children come to GAA matches and we spotted everyone from a former Taoiseach (Enda Kenny) to a former Mayo footballer (Mickey Conroy) on their way into the ground, along with dozens of kids in Mayo and Galway jerseys.
Most people were generous, some were apologetic that they had no change, and others just seemed to be looking for something on the ground as they strode past the collectors and the buckets in silence.
It was only when we returned to the sanctuary of the media tower around 1.30pm that we realised that something was amiss down on the pitch.
We can’t be exactly sure, but our suspicions may have been first aroused by the sight of referee Paddy Neilan holding an animated conversation with some lads from the Connacht GAA Council.
And it didn’t look like they were discussing expenses.
Then there was Stephen Rochford and Kevin Walsh, at opposite ends of the field, digging their heels into the frozen MacHale Park ground, and stamping their feet as they walked in little squares as some of their selectors watched on.
It was like ‘Dancing With The Stars’ rehearsals, without the fancy outfits.
And while all this was going on, we had photographers taking pictures of GAA officials talking on phones, and trying to find blades of grass with ice on them.
The clock had just struck 2pm when the announcement was made that the game was off. That, of course, meant the heat was on for the Connacht Council stewards as the supporters went in search of refunds.
But it’s the Mayo footballers on holiday out in Malaysia that I felt sorry for.
Why? Because now some of them will have to face into two games in 48 hours next weekend. It’s a good job they stayed on the minerals in Kuala Lumpur.
The FBD.
Sure where would we be without it?

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