Promotion of one’s own talents is something that’s shied away from here. Though many might scarcely believe it, the limelight tends to be shied away from where possible. An example, being bestowed with the honour of being Grand Marshall at the inaugural St Patrick’s Day celebrations in Dunboyne will forever be one of the happiest and proudest days of my life. Yet the occasion was spent in a state of constant blush with all the attention lavished hereupon.
If asked to pinpoint one feature which I might be fond of it’d be a very good memory. Indeed, many do often marvel at the powers of recall in this seat. Even if some of what is memorised tends to cause much amusement due to its randomness. For as long as can be recalled – no pun intended – All Star teams in both hurling and football, both club and county, have been collated. Back in the day they were kept in notebooks, remember them?
Some of the more off-the-wall recollections tend to draw most interest. Vehicle registration numbers are a speciality. Every vehicle our family, extended family and many friends have had during my lifetime can be recited at a finger click. Of much interest to many is the fact that I can recall the number plates of every tractor a particular farmer has had since I was six years old.
However, for all that, the pearl of wisdom which generates most merriment in certain places – specifically Sean Nealon’s famed tavern in Dunboyne – is an ability to name the entire Leitrim side which won the Connacht SFC in 1994. For the record: Martin McHugh; Fergal Reynolds, Seamus Quinn, Joey Honeyman; Noel Moran, Declan Darcy, Gerry Flanagan; Paul Kieran, Mickey Quinn; Pat Donoghue, George Dugdale, Padraig Kenny; Aidan Rooney, Colm McGlynn, Liam Conlon.
To hear natives of that lovely county regale about the day Darcy followed up Tom Gannon’s lifting of the Nestor Cup in 1927 is to understand what sport – and sporting success – means to people. We, the GAA following masses, are blessed that comprehension of such blessings seems naturally embedded.
Similar stories proliferate throughout the Association. Recall the Eire Og club from Carlow at the beginning of the 1990s, or, more recently, Slaughtneil from Derry compiling an even more astounding list of accomplishments. Feats that will be treasured and reeled out for as long as those lucky enough to see them live.
Now look at the implosion of Leicester City in the Premiership. Or, more pointedly, the scandalous manner in which Claudio Ranieri was made the fall guy for the shortcomings of his now erstwhile players. Throughout last season, general sentiment was that the fairy tale surrounding the Foxes was too good to be true.
And, while they did make the unlikely a reality, perhaps the wheels were even beginning to detach from the wagon before they’d reached rainbow’s end. You couldn’t exactly envisage any Manchester United team of the Ferguson era – so publicly at least – having a party with games left in the season akin to what transpired in the Vardy household last May.
Hindsight makes you wonder did they really appreciate what they’d achieved. Or who helped them do so. Actually it doesn’t. For it’s blatantly obvious that they didn’t. At best, it could be said that those who were so instrumental in their ascent to greatness last year have portrayed a false hunger for a battle this time round. In fact, they’ve displayed a sickening lack of appetite for a fight.
There’s a sense too, though, that there’s an old bugbear of mine at play here too. Namely, people in charge of the football club who haven’t a bull’s notion about the game. How else to explain the defenestration of Nigel Pearson who’d not only guided them back to the big league but kept them therein as well?
So, the probability is that there’s a collective sort of responsibility for the malaise the soon to former kingpins now find themselves immersed in. The individual with the least culpability in the whole sorry mess has, however, shamefully, been the one left to carry the can. In time, it will be ‘The Tinkerman’ who emerges untainted.
What he achieved with Leicester last season was – along with Connacht’s annexation of the PRO12 in rugby – the joint feel-good sports story of the year. Everybody was rooting for them and delighted by their success. Contrast that to where they find themselves now. There might not be too many wet eyes should they go down. Such an avoidable pity.