This may be stating the blindingly obvious, but, not too much time ever elapses between one wish that things could be different and the next. Maybe everybody has such thoughts. However, in my case, it will probably stun some to hear and admission that I do not mean by way of having my disability being eradicated. Peace has been made with the walking days being gone a long time ago.
No, all that is longed for these days is for Dunboyne and Meath GAA teams to be in a better, more acceptably competitive place anf for myself to get back into beef and/or tillage farming again. Yes I am in a wheelchair but I absolutely live for farming. Get over it.
Of even bigger and more pressing concern, though, is my two beloved teams being back in a better place. Meath will come again, of that there is a degree of quiet confidence. There is, however, a fear that a golden generation closer to home may end up falling well short of what their talents merit if proper frameworks to guarantee sustainability going forward aren’t in place. Are there times when I wish or have done to be residing in a different location? Yes, absolutely. For sporting and farming reasons.
Then again, even if they are, in no way does it guarantee that seeds planted will yield what they should. Just ask Mayo. That great evidently have enviable structures in place, judging by the volume of supremely talented footballers they constantly seem to unearth. Yet they cannot scale the mountain top. They will though. Somehow, someday.
Only they can do it for themselves. The same goes for any team attempting to derail the phenomenon which Dublin have long become. It would be harsh in the extreme to say James Horan’s team again let it slip. However, there were pivotal moments which again they will rue. The ten minutes Robbie McDaid was off the field most pointedly. Also, what will probably become known as ‘Tunnelgate’. Who said what or how it started is irrelevant. The last thing Mayo needed was someone or something to poke the bear.
This Dublin team don’t make many mistakes but when they do it’s to those in pursuit to jump on it go like the hammers of hell. Like somebody beamed onto Sea The Stars in the Prix De L’Arc. One thing which can never, ever be question about this or any Mayo team is their fortitude.
Stephen Hawking could’ve devoted several tomes to how those in green and continually come back for more and still not arrive at an explanation. Consider Colm Coyle’s Hail Mary effort which rescued Meath in 1996. The catastrophe of two own goals in more recent seasons. Or the year in which Kerry absolutely bamboozled them with goals early on.
Still they keep coming back. Again yesterday. After Dean Rock – Footballer Of The Year for me – sent David Clarke flying through the air in vain after an astonishing 13 seconds. Astonishing not only in its speed, however, also in its construction. James McCarthy gets the throw-in, engages in a necklace of passes with Niall Scully and very unselfishly put the score on a silver platter for the in-rushing Rock to caress towards a desolate looking, needlessly empty Hill 16.
Within what felt like seconds, though, Mayo, or more specifically Cillian O’Connor, had restored parity. Only to see all that valiant effort obliterated in one devastating swoop when Con O’Callaghan used a motion similar to a tennis forehand to net again in a manner that was almost as cruel as it was beautiful in its simplicity.
Mayo simply wouldn’t be human if their resolve wasn’t at the very least tested by the constant calamitous cacophony of circumstances which have befallen them over the years. From a long way out this time around, it appeared that, perhaps for the first time in the emotional odyssey of this gallant Mayo team, the scars of battle finally began to tell.
Surely, though, there comes a time when, instead of trying to analyse why teams can’t beat Dublin and how that could and should be attempted, simply sit up and admire what is an unique period of sustained sporting greatness for what it is. Exactly that.
There will be those who will point to Meath’s improvement at Minor level in the last few years – specifically that they have discovered the knack to beating Dublin again – and the fact that Galway defeated the blue brigade in the U-20 FC Final as the first signs of the empire starting to crumble. Aside from the fact that such would appear to be a foolhardy approach given the quality of players contained on the vanquished Dublin team. Youngsters like Ciaran Archer and Luke O’Dell and Mark Lavin and Luke Swan have shown enough to suggest themselves well capable of being the next sprockets off the conveyor belt and into the senior setup.
Mention of all that, though, completely misses the point in my view. Focusing on trying to dismantle what Dublin do is as unlikely as it is unlikely. They are not going to stop doing what they’re doing. Nor should they. Those hoping to get anywhere near the levels those chasing seventh heaven need to get their own affairs in order first.