About 20 years ago, Cesare Menotti, the chain-smoking slick-haired manager of the Argentina team which won the 1978 World Cup in front of their own frenzied fans, was asked about what was the biggest influence on his career.
Almost without hesitation, he replied, ‘the right hand post at the city end of the Estadio Monumental in Buenos Aires.” The reference was to that famous final against Holland when in a tension-filled final few minutes, with the teams tied at 1-1, a shot by Dutch star Rensenbrink flew in and smacked against the post, and away to safety.
A goal then would almost certainly have handed the World Cup to Holland, and given them victory that they have never achieved; it would have denied Argentina their World Cup, and would have changed the course of a nation.
Such is the fine line between loss and victory, joy and despair. All of this came to my mind on Sunday when in the dying moments of Galway’s game against Clare, Aron Shanagher’s shot hit that Galway post smack on and was cleared away to safety.
A goal then and Galway’s goose might have been cooked. But it didn’t, and the Herculean character of this team shone through as we scored the next crucial point.
It was a sickener for Clare, but a fillip for the rest of us. And what a lift it is giving us all. Here in Galway, there is always so much happening that we tend to lose the full enjoyment because we are so punch drunk from the sheer buzz of being from here.
There is no medicine that can replicate the intense happiness we get when our teams win. The sense of camaraderie that spills throughout a community, binding us all together, in victory as in loss. In defeat, these shoulders help up pick ourselves up and get on with things; in victory, when we win we create memories that will stay forever.
Savour the next 10 days. The final on Sunday week will be a marvellous occasions, one that will be enjoyed no doubt by Limerick as much as Galway. At time of writing, Galway teams are involved in the business end of the All-Ireland minor and senior hurling championships, the All-Ireland minor and senior football championships, and the All-Ireland senior camogie and ladies football championships. Fans in maroon and white are living in interesting times, with important games coming thick and fast.
Let us not lose ourselves in the rush to find tickets and not enjoy what is happening. The feeling that permeates from these successes is intangible, but it does us all the world of good. We can play our part in spreading this feeling by donning the colours, putting a flag in your window or your garden, get these maroon teddies out and plonk them in your trees, let the flags flicker with the movement of your car.
The players and management who go out to represent Galway in all of these crucial games need to us carry them along on this wave of support.
Enjoy all that this period brings. Sport is cyclical and before we know it, the moments pass. Inhale all of these great successes and don’t get too stressed by it all. Let’s turn Galway maroon and create more enjoyable memories.