UNITED WE STAND The Mayo starting 15 stand during the playing of the National Anthem before the GAA Football All-Ireland Senior Championship Final match between Mayo and Tyrone at Croke Park in Dublin. Pic: Ray McManus/Sportsfile
Even Kieran Hanrahan’s ‘Céilí House’, Philip King’s ‘The South Wind Blows’ and Brian Lally’s ‘Country Time’ could not ease the Croke Park homeward bound pain. It never subsided. Gutted is the best description.
It hadn’t been the best journey anyway – an hour to cross Dublin from Dorset St to the M4. Fierce traffic! It cleared on the motorway for a few miles and then another tailback. Some cars had been rear-ended and we snailed past as occupants surveyed the damage.
Onto the M4 Applegreen Enfield Services where a slew of Mayo supporters had already gathered. Their food choice was simple – take it or leave it – fast food from the only food outlet open within. The restaurant and dedicated coffee shop/café were closed! The forecourt shop was thronged as people queued for coffee where two out of the three coffee machines were out of order. A gallant staff member did his best to right the wrongs.
Why were Applegreen Services so ill-prepared and ill-equipped to cater for customers? What kind of prep was done in their HQ for All-Ireland Final day? Obviously very little, if any at all. If motorway services are unwilling to show some modicum of respect for customers then they should not be awarded the franchise to operate. And someone should also advise their forecourt parking measurement team about their anorexic parking spaces.
All of this kind of drivel exacerbates your pain, but then it pales when you think of the team, panel, management and support staff, and all their families. Every one of them has put in hours and hours of daily commitment to get them to Croke Park.
In some way, they saw all that go up in smoke on All-Ireland final day. Their disappointment must be extreme. So much of the ‘same old, same old’ and having to face life again, meeting family, friends and work colleagues.
Whatever upset we personally feel fades when compared to what they go through. One longs to absorb some of their pain and ease their burden.
We had the keyboard warriors out of the traps like pedigree greyhounds but their surly words are no comfort to anyone. When all around is pain there is no point in adding to it by being critical. Singling out players and management for special insults has nothing to do with sport or sportsmanship and should not be tolerated at any level.
Defeat always poses a series of questions, but armchair critics are certainly not the answer! We trust that those involved are honest enough to listen to each other and do whatever is necessary to understand what went wrong on the day. Nobody went out to lose. The facts are Tyrone were better on the day and Joe McQuillan was very fair. Winning an All-Ireland football final is not a right. We all fall into that trap.
James Horan remains a great manager. One missed kick from Ryan O’Donoghue does not detract from his footballing skills. He was tireless and fought to the end. An inspiration. Stephen Coen was mighty. Lee Keegan was superb, simply supreme, a man-of-the-match performance. What a footballer! Even in defeat his tribute to Tyrone was inspirational and magnanimous. A true gentleman and sports statesman.
All we can say is what we always say – thank you all and be assured of our continued support. If we cannot stand behind our men in defeat then we do not even deserve to stand. Losing is not failing, walking away is.
Heads up lads. Thanks again for everything. We are proud to stand with you, in victory and defeat. Stand up, dust down and move on. Beir bua Maigh Eo!