To B or not to B

A Breaffy Man in Castlebar
To B or not to B

Edwin McGreal

All roads led to Parke recently for the GAA clash of the year.
Never mind Croke Park or even McHale Park. Don’t mind the inter-county championship where 80,000 people are codded into paying into the All-Ireland football final every September thinking that is what the GAA is all about.
Or a Mayo Senior Football final where papers such as this one will tell you is a clash of the greatest club teams in the land of the yew and heather.
No, if you wanted to see real Gaelic football in action, then the clash of Parke and Breaffy in the opening round of the West Mayo Junior B Championship was the place to be.
Small may have been the number of supporters in attendance but they should all take a greater pride in themselves for that. Because they are the few good men and women who really understand and appreciate the attraction of the GAA at its real grassroots.
Our rock-solid full-back line had a full-back fourteen years older than the combined ages of the two young lads in the corners. And all three played as if they’d be playing together for years. Now there’s an angle for a feature piece!
The Junior B grade is a much maligned one. Often mocked for its participants having more beer guts than six packs, such criticism is harsh and, indeed, plain wrong.
I can’t speak for the Parke lads but our own lads went on a strict alcohol ban in the run up to the game.
The game was on Wednesday and it coming just after a bank holiday, we decided to allow the lads to drink until Monday night but no further.
And, to a man, they did. And people think inter-county players are committed?
Well, there was one exception. One of our crew went drinking the day before at the Ballinrobe Races after one of our ‘sources’ spotted him and relayed the information on. Our management team, of which I am one of three men blessed with a role, sat in conclave to decide what to do with this miscreant.
But, we’re fair people. He hadn’t messed up before this. We let him off with a gentle warning. Of course it had nothing to do with low numbers on the night.
See that’s the other thing about Junior B. People think John O’Mahony has a hard job picking a team. Nonsense. Sure hasn’t he an entire county to pick from. Try getting together a team on a Wednesday evening for a Junior B game when thirteen of your number are in the middle of college exams and eight more are away during the week.
But people will always answer the call. And so we went to Parke to kick off our Junior B campaign. And we won, which helps. And its always nice to beat the neighbours too.