The Drawn All-Ireland Final
Last Sunday’s All-Ireland Final was a surreal (dictionary definition = strange; not seeming real; like a dream) roller-coaster of a game. Dublin will ask; how did we play so bad? Perhaps they played as well as they were let! Perhaps many in Mayo will be feeling that it is the classic Mayo syndrome of a ‘missed opportunity’. As the psychiatrist said to his colleague on vacating Fawlty Towers ‘there is material for a whole conference here’.
Dublin cannot, one imagines, play so poorly again in terms of scoring , time lapses between scores, star players having miserable games, being at times so disorganised and clueless, their shape, organisation temperament being frazzled. At times they were ‘not waving but drowning’ being kept on life support by Mayo own goals.
In fairness to Mayo they came back from the near death at least twice. They put themselves in the driving seat at one time, into the second half, after coming back from Dublin’s first half lead but did not continue when Dublin were is real distress. Also to Mayo’s credit they were the team that came with the late spurt of three points, in extra time, to send the game to a replay. It is as well that this happened otherwise it would be remembered as a poor, weird game. Had Dublin won it would have a very unsatisfactory victory. The confused reaction of both sets of supporters at the end of the game represented the GUBU nature of it all. This is also represented in these lines!
Part Two: The Replay Another Battle
In replay terms the odds are again on Dublin but their experience in the drawn game has to have given them a shock and reality check. They will set out to rectify their mistakes here of course but if Mayo can unsettle them again early in the game the famed Dublin confidence could be fragile. It could hardly happen this time that the Dubs will get two freak gift goals. A number of Dublin star names possibly showed that they were near their career end especially Bernard Brogan. Again the Dublin substitutes contributed well. The less familiar Mayo names did likewise. Two Dublin players Small and Fenton were ‘man of the match’ contenders as were Vaughan and Cillian O’Connor for Mayo.
Mayo will have learned too and they will again go into the game to make a battle of it and as the drawn game demonstrated this can damage Dublin. One of the fights of the battle will be between Keegan of Mayo and Connolly of Dublin. A lot of eyes will be on this pair from the off the next day and the possibility exists that one, or more likely both, will get their marching orders early. There will be no advantage to either side by this. Also Aidan O’Shea will have to enable himself to make a real positive contribution as his was a scatty performance in the drawn game capped with two awful long range kicks towards goal at the end. He will have to accept the robust attention he is sure to encounter and hope that the referee will deal with the o.t.t. stuff. The referee for the replay, Maurice Deegan, was on the line on Sunday and so will be familiar with the legacy issues that will surely carry into the next game. Occasionally the expectations of a hurly burly encounter do not materialise and a reasonable game results. I do not think this will be in Mayo’s interests so I see them as risking more in terms of the analytic spake ‘who wants it more’. Mayo certainly showed they wanted it more last Sunday.
The questions are can Dublin be so poor again and can Mayo maintain the intensity of the drawn game? I felt that Dublin would win last Sunday but now I’m not so sure.
Hopefully Mayo will bring the same aggression and passion to the replay and when one considers the physicality of rugby or American football the Gaelic football boundaries are not rigid and consider what the former Liverpool manager Bill Shankly said "Some people think football is a matter of life and death. I assure you, it's much more serious than that." It is such a prize for Mayo and its people and those who wish it so that it deserves an almighty effort which I believe will be given.
I don’t know if there is a singer in the Mayo panel but if there is there is room –if they win – to emulate the late great Joe McDonagh of Galway from 1980 with a verse of the great Western anthem ‘The West’s Awake.’
· I have criticised the ‘BLACK CARD’ a number of times here and it is a serious issue that has to be addressed and it has to be binned. The ‘black card’ is frustrating players and observers a great deal, The McCarthy ‘black card’ was debateable, perhaps a yellow was more appropriate. Aidan O’Shea should have at least a yellow card. Daragh McCauley should have been sent off escaping with two big fouls one a hand trip and second a ‘clothes line tackle’ that possibly merited a ‘red’ on its own.
· I presume there is a reason for having the replay on a Saturday (maybe interfering with county championship games) but it is not clear. It has the potential for mayhem traffic-wise with a bus strike. Another issue is that by the time the game is over the last long distance trains west will be gone for example Dublin to Westport 6.30. I still feel that having the game on Saturday is questionable.
· The search is now on for tickets. Tickets are usually more accessible for replays and since there is no minor game that should free up 4/5 thousand tickets.
· Longford County Council made a name for itself by removing some roadside signs wishing ‘Good Luck to Mayo’. That shows some local authority efficiency! Give it a break.
Abbey Community College ‘Class Act’
Perhaps it is initial enthusiasm with the start of the new school year but Abbey Community College had a good news profile in this week’s Roscommon Herald ‘Class Act’ schools section. I was taken with Ethan Beirne’s account of his visit to a First World War battlefield where the Connacht Rangers were involved at Guillemont. A number of Ethan’s forbears were amongst the 126 men from the Boyle area who were killed in W.W. 1 and the army tradition has been passed down to Ethan’s family with his dad also serving in the Irish army. It was a very good and well written short account of a memorable visit for him. These second level school pages give prospective young writers a public platform which I am sure they will be pleased with.
A couple of weeks ago Gerry Boland had a considered profile, in question and answer format, of an established Boyle writer Patrick Chapman who was student at St. Mary’s College. I was one of his teachers and I remember a science fiction essay of his confusing me as to its merits. I imagine it was very good. I liked the answer to the question asked by Patrick of his English teacher as to; ‘Why (Oscar) Wilde had been imprisoned?’ to which the teacher answered ‘tax reasons’.
The Siege of Jadotville The Congo 1961
Continuing on the army theme but fast forwarding to the 1960s’ when the Irish army provided a number of troops for peace-keeping missions abroad starting with the Belgian Congo in the early sixties. Amongst the memorable incidents of this initial campaign was the ambush at Niemba of 1960 where nine Irish soldiers lost their lives. Another was the siege of Jadotville which began in September ‘61 where an Irish army garrison of 157 was surrounded and after a week’s long battle had to give up their arms being vastly outnumbered and lacking supplies. It appears as if this action cast a shadow over the role of these men subsequently and it took a long time for due recognition to be paid to them. Last Saturday the soldiers of Jadotville were remembered and honoured at Costume Barracks, Athlone as most of them came from this region. Amongst those present were members of the Tiernan family from Boyle including Mary Tiernan wife of one of the soldiers of Jadotville, George or Georgie as he is remembered in Boyle. Indeed it was a busy and varied few days for Mary as the Saturday event at Athlone followed the Friday wedding in Dublin of her grandson David to Miss Becky Lee and on Monday Mary returned to Dublin to attend the premiere of the Netflix film ‘The Siege of Jadotville’ starring Jamie Dornan as Cdt. Pat Quinlan the commander of ‘A’ Company 35th Battalion who were at Jadotville. Perhaps the film can be shown locally in Carrick and we can learn more of that fateful event.
‘Ireland the Autobiography’ by John Bowman
I heard a review of this book subtitled ‘Eyewitness accounts of Irish Life since 1916’ on the Sean O’Rourke programme over the week end. It is a compilation of notable speeches, essays and recorded verbal accounts by a broad spectrum of Irish people over the century. I’ll quote two short extracts one by Brendan O hEithir, who I met a few times in Galway, and the second from a radio address by Eamon de Valera while Taoiseach from the late 30s’.
“The late Brendán Ó hEithir tells a delightful anecdote from 1943, as reproduced from his iconic GAA memoir, Over the Bar. The (Cavan town based) Traveller Billy Doonan was en route to Monte Cassino (Italy) as a British Army radio operator when he went missing one Sunday. His comrades in the unit wondered about this, it was unlikely that he could have been shot, as there was a lull in hostilities. Eventually Doonan, who was described as `a natural footballer' by Ó hEithir was found. "He was up a tree on the side of a steep hill and he seemed to be in a trance," writes Ó hEithir mischievously, as only he could. Doonan had discovered the ideal listening post to hear the Roscommon v Cavan All-Ireland Football Final, as relayed from Croke Park”.
Eamon de Valera
"... The Ireland that we dreamed of would be the home of a people who valued material wealth only as a basis for right living, of a people who, satisfied with frugal comfort, devoted their leisure to the things of the spirit – a land whose countryside would be bright with cosy homesteads, whose fields and villages would be joyous with the sounds of industry, with the romping of sturdy children, the contest of athletic youths and the laughter of happy (comely) maidens, whose firesides would be forums for the wisdom of serene old age. The home, in short, of a people living the life that God desires that men should live. . . ."
I will not get tangled up in commentary on Mister de Valera’s famous vision of an Irish Utopia.
Boyle GAA: Two Fixtures
Boyle Juniors play Strokestown in Boyle on Sunday next at 12.
The really big upcoming game of course is the Senior Semi-Final v St. Brigid’s in Strokestown on Sunday October the 2nd at (note) 4.30.
Roscommon GAA League Fixtures for 2017
Sunday, February 5th Tyrone v Roscommon (first mentioned team at home)/ Sunday, Feb. 12th Roscommon v Donegal/ Saturday, Feb. 25th Mayo v Roscommon/ Sunday, March 5th Roscommon v Kerry/ Sunday, March 19th Monaghan v Ros./ Sat. March 25th Dublin v Ros./ Sunday, April 2nd Ros. v Cavan. That is seven games, three at home-hopefully on a good Hyde Park pitch - and four away.