ALL SET Ballinrobe native James O’Connell, who lives in the United States, is pictured with his daughter Caoimhe before last Saturday's All-Ireland SFC Final.
LAST week’s snows continue to form a patchwork quilt across the neighbourhood gardens but the sun is peaking out, providing a welcome burst of warm respite from the bitter cold.
I bundle up our 16-month old, resplendent in her winter elfen outfit, topped off with her first Mayo jersey and brave the great outdoors.
The head isn’t great, but I’m putting a brave face on it.
The delay between Mid West and GAAGO forewarned me about the goal. That was enough of that. Bad and all as Ger Canning is, Mid West got the boot. The Mayo diaspora is scattered far and wide. For every Johannesburg there’s a Jakarta and for every Darwin there’s a Denver. But never before on All-Ireland Final day have I sat in front of a screen.
It’s hard to quantify. Like most Mayo fans, I expected us to put it up to them.
When I just focused on us, even on paper we had a shot. The shots that dropped short needed to go over or at least 60 percent of them needed to count. We needed a bit more scoring diversity from our forward line and a touch more from the bench.
Am I the only one who expected a bit more cut and thrust while they were down to 14 men? But you have to hand it to Mayo. They put it up to the machine and not once did they take a backward step.
You also have to laugh. Grimly, perhaps, but laugh all the same. So many ‘experts’ expected us to get beat out the gate, citing the 12-minute blitz last year. Conveniently forgetting the arduous six games in seven weeks, culminating in the disposal of Kerry.
Even with half a dozen rookies scattered across the lines, it’s still about *marginal* gains. Things we can control - a touch more composure. A tweak up front, a tightening at the back and incredibly – for the high performance athletes they already are – a couple of more gallons in the tank.
For the mad year that’s in it, we might just have to put up with a haul of beating Galway in Tuam and Salthill with the Nestor Cup back where it belongs. You’d have taken it in March!
It’s the shortest day of the year and – we hope -- there’s only a few months until the next tilt. Before you know it we’ll be declaring, ‘there’s a grand auld stretch in the day’.
Rest, recuperate and go again because the league and championship football await for the team that gets knocked down, but gets right back up again.
They are a sensational bunch of young men. Warriors the lot of them.
For once, it’ll be a short winter and the snows will melt.
Ballinrobe native James O’Connell is the ‘Americas Head of News for S&P Global and a former journalist with The Mayo News.