Soak it in

WHAT DREAMS ARE MADE OF: Not given to shows of emotion, Peadar Gardiner's reaction here shows what scoring the winning point in a Connacht final must be like.

WHAT DREAMS ARE MADE OF: Not given to shows of emotion, Peadar Gardiner's reaction here shows what scoring the winning point in a Connacht final must be like.

DEEP breaths now. Soak in that feeling. There’s a contentness about us Mayo folk today. Progress. Tangible progress. Victory over Galway in Salthill. Dramatic victory. When it looked like we had thrown it all away. And, best of all, excitement about where we can go. We won’t get too confident but there is a feeling that a lot is possible with this team. We considered that before Sunday but had only the Roscommon game to use as an argument. Now we have more.

All reasons why we’re walking with a pep in our step today. Could you imagine what today would have been like if we had drawn or lost that game? So the sense of relief is another emotion. When Michael Meehan hit that goal it was like the confidence and swagger this team had shown had been all for nought and we were to be plunged back to the dark days where belief was an alien concept.

Except that those on the field showed a courage after that goal rarely seen by Mayo teams. It was the courage of champions. ‘I am not concerned that you have fallen, I am concerned that you arise.’ Abe Lincoln would have found favour with Mayo yesterday.

CHAMPIONS: Trevor Mortimer lifts the Nestor Cup to bridge a three year gap.

CHAMPIONS: Trevor Mortimer lifts the Nestor Cup to bridge a three year gap.

Andy Moran was in no mood for feeling sorry for himself. The Ballagh’ man showed boundless energy all day and the Meehan goal didn’t sap it. He won the breaking ball, played a 1-2 with Ronan McGarrity and then made, to borrow from rugby, the hard yards.

Joe Bergin borrowed a tackle from rugby and we had a free 55metres out. Conor Mortimer wanted to take it. Andy was having none of it. Kenneth O’Malley was out of his goal screaming at John O’Mahony to let him come up to take it (O’Malley is a deadly long range free-taker with Ballinrobe).

But Andy had something in mind. Peadar Gardiner was beside him one second and running into space the next. Maybe Gardiner whispered his plans to Moran but, however it came about, Moran found Gardiner in a glorious chink of space. Gardiner could have flunked it but when he was needed most he came up trumps. A decent game had a classic ending.

And how we celebrated. Our emotions had been brought on a roller coaster without a safety brace. The point could turn out to be the most important since Ciaran McDonald’s against Dublin in 2006. Can you imagine what drawing that game would  have done to our psyche? Unthinkable. The difference between going forward and going backwards in one moment.

That we won the game means we can call 2009 a successful year and from here on we’re in bonus territory. Not that we should treat it as such either. But we would all have settled for a Connacht title at the start of the year. I’d have bitten the hand off any man or women who offered Mayo a Connacht title at half-time in the league game against Galway in Tuam when we were six points behind.

A TOUCH OF CLASS: One modern day great of Connacht football, Padraig Joyce, shows wonderful grace to congratulate another great and his long time rival, David Heaney.

A TOUCH OF CLASS: One modern day great of Connacht football, Padraig Joyce, shows wonderful grace to congratulate another great and his long time rival, David Heaney.

Now we have it and we move into the All-Ireland series with a certain confidence. A belief not always evident in Mayo teams. So much of the team looks settled. Five of the six backs are. We’ve found a midfield pairing few would have predicted in February but even fewer would dream of changing now.

The half-forward line is one of our strongest and in Aidan O’Shea we have a real leader in the full-forward line. Options abound for the other two places. Two from Aidan Kilcoyne, Conor Mortimer and Barry Moran leaves us in a healthy position for competition for places.

How we line out or where we go from here is for another day though. Now is all about now. Soak it in. David Heaney’s two points. Ronan McGarrity’s monster point from under the stand. The same player’s courage in playing at all. Soak it in.

Alan Dillon’s one man show of a point just before half-time. Our second goal. Gardiner’s wonder point when we thought our world was caving in. Trevor lifting the cup. Soak it in. Try not to smile doing so. Hard, isn’t it?

I haven’t felt this good since the ’06 semi-final. I hope. No, I expect and I know I won’t be waiting as long again. It is for the feeling of days like today that Gaelic football is such a big part of our lives. Days like today make so much worthwhile. Soak it in folks.

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4 Responses to “Soak it in”


  1. 1 Lar Naparka July 21, 2009 at 12:11 am

    Very well written, straight from the heart.
    I’d wager you too are soaking it in. There have been far more dinner times than dinners where Mayo’s followers are concerned and this was one of the rare occasions when we can all sit back and feel a sense of satisfaction at a job well done.
    To be sure there were areas and periods of concern but now is not the time to dwell on them. They can largely be put down to inexperience and over anxiety. I’d say the average age of this team is well below that of any other title-winning sides I have seen and I got back a few decades.
    This was a game in which our good became very good and where many a lad grew into a man. Time enough next week or the week after to think ahead.
    For now, I’ll just let it soak in….

    • 2 thereisalightthatnevergoesout July 22, 2009 at 10:45 pm

      Yes Lar I did indeed soak it in! And still feel good today. You are right, we could be critical about a lot of the game and that is something we can look at. But the point you make about players growing into men on the day will be invaluable when we get to Croker.

  2. 3 eoinbutler July 21, 2009 at 2:24 am

    Agreed on all counts – well said!


  1. 1 Green and Red » Back to reality Trackback on July 21, 2009 at 9:33 am

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