It was just a few seconds but it seemed like an eternity. The gap between the winning point and the final whistle last Sunday. It was just enough time for a large hand to go through through your ribcage, grab your heart and shake it all about. That shrill of a whistle unleashed a primal scream within all Galway people. Yes, it was just the semifinal. Yes, nothing has been won. Yet. But it was the culmination of a summer of hope, of a quarter-century of hope that one day, that hope might turn to reality. Within minutes of the whistle, we posted this picture of Anthony Cunningham up on our social media. It was a pic that summed up the feeling and passion of every Galway supporter. That on a difficult afternoon when defeat could so easily have been the outcome, when your dreams were kicked and dashed and then reignited, that perseverance and heroism paid off and a final place was secured.
A whole generation has grown up hearing about the exploits of 1980 and the late eighties. It has heard a tale of those giants of men whose feats became legendary; of those men who have reluctantly dined out on it since; men who would now give it all away were the mantle of greatness to be placed on the shoulders of a younger man, walking down the steps of the Hogan in late September with the McCarthy Cup in one hand.
They say that anticipation is the greater part of pleasure, and that is true, but there is a hell of a lot of joy to be enjoyed as you bask in post-pleasure as well. On Sunday fortnight, this county will be back in the All-Ireland final, as will the minors. It is a month that could bring great sporting reward to the west. There are hopes of another remarkable camogie title. Galway United are also back in the hunt for silverware, when they host St Patrick’s Athletic in the EA Sports Cup Final.
What a few weeks that promises to be. Even one of those victories would be reason for rejoicing. But let’s be greedy and hope for a clean sweep. The men and women who go out and represent us in these finals have to go knowing that they carry the love and respect and encouragement of the people they live and work with. So for the next few weeks, make your home maroon, make your car maroon, but most importantly make your heart maroon.
Get your flags out and get your children animated so that they will learn to develop new heroes, real heroes and not ones that live in XBoxes ofrPlayStations. Inform them about the players on the teams, all the teams, so that they can adopt heroes and allow themselves to see the benefits of playing sport; so that they will aspire to the greatness that awaits our heroes. Thank you to all of the teams and managers who give of themselves so that we can be this proud. Now, do your jobs and prepare your teams and we will do all we can to ensure that you will have an entire county behind you when you take the pitch. C’mon Galway. Gaillimh Abu.