HANGING ON FOR DEAR LIFE Mayo’s makeshift full-back David Brady hangs onto the jersey of Kerry’s Kieran Donaghy during last Sunday’s Final.
Bradys tell it as it is
THE Mayo players leave their Hogan Stand dressing room with their heads hung, like family members leaving a funeral home just after closing the coffin. Their grief is clear to see. Asking them to attempt to explain what has just passed before our eyes in the All-Ireland final seems intrusive.
But a job must be done also and so one journalist plucks up the courage to ask David Brady for a few words. Others follow his lead. Soon he is surrounded. The Ballina man has spoken often about how All-Ireland Club success last year gave him deliverance for all his final heartbreak previously. That, he maintained, meant he would retire from football a happy man.
Sunday was not how he wanted it to end but Brady seems to be a different man. More mellow, off the field anyhow, and certainly able to stand back and look at what is going on around him.
“At the end of the day football is football. Conor and Trevor (Mortimer) lost their grandfather two weeks ago. We lost the game but you get over the game. It’s not a matter of life and death. Maybe it should be to us but to me it’s not,” he observed.
And for the legendary midfielder, the time has come to step aside. “I know certainly that I can’t (come back next year). For me, no. I spent eleven years trying. I’ll always go back and remember ‘96 and the ball over the bar. I see guys in there (dressing rooms) crying, that’s hard. Maybe for them it’s a 10 or 12 point beating but for me it’s not as hard. We came, we tried and it didn’t work. That’s it for me. I got what I came for (All-Ireland Club) but I just didn’t get the senior medal.”
When it came to examining the football itself, Brady didn’t look for the soft cliché. He told it as it was.
“We were absolutely destroyed out there,” he admits candidly. “Guys are gutted. We started thinking about 2004 that we weren’t ready, we weren’t prepared, we were a younger team, we were inexperienced.
“They (Kerry) just blitzed us in the first fifteen minutes and there’s no excuses for it. You can’t blame the ref, the weather, the ball, the pitch, we just blame ourselves. We each, individually, lost our individual battles out there and credit where credit is due,
“Jack O’Connor probably gave us some solace in saying that we probably peaked against Dublin and that they (Kerry) were on an upward trend all the time and we hit our peak when we played Dublin three weeks ago,” he added. He stepped aside and David Brady disappeared into the shadows. He had retired before but this time you get the feeling it’s final.
DOWN the hall his younger brother Ger stood for questions. His face betrayed his feelings. He was devastated but, like his brother, he was forthright.
“Again I suppose for the first 20 minutes they caught us on the hop. We weren’t able to react to their pace and they got the goals and the first 20 minutes were the killer really, that’s where we lost the game. It’s hard to put your finger on it. It’s one of those things, sport is sport and you are always going to get teams who start quicker than the opposition.
Brady was then met with the question enquiring had the occasion got the better of Mayo. He was unequivocal in response. “No, no, that’s bullshit to put it mildly,” he retorted.
“It didn’t get to us. Every guy in there is used to playing in All-Ireland finals and winning them. We were unlucky and you have to give Kerry credit. All ye guys will be writing stories about Mayo flopping again and all that crap but there is a bunch of guys in there who gave their heart and soul for Mayo this year. Guys broke bones and spilt blood, nobody meant to go there and lose the game. It just happened and fair play to Kerry.
“It was devastation in there (the Mayo dressing room), everyone was gutted. We really thought that this was going to be our year but it’s not. Mickey said he was proud of what we achieved this year. It’s bittersweet. We’ve achieved a lot but at the end of the day we didn’t get to where we wanted. We’ll just have to regroup next year and I suppose the old Mayo saying, ‘keep the faith’.”