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I recall watching the Irish rugby team playing a Triple Crown match in 1985 against England. The match was very much in the balance with minutes left on the clock. It was at a critical juncture in the game that team captain Ciaran Fitzgerald demanded his team step up to the plate with his by now (in) famous line “where’s your f***ing pride?” The team responded and delivered a magnificent final few minutes to beat England on that day. I have no doubt that Fitzgerald’s leadership was crucial to that victory. Mayo football is, to some extent, at a similar juncture right now. We need leadership both on and off the field and, more than anything else, we need to display a bit of f***ing pride and heart. After last year’s championship defeats to Sligo and Longford we need to resurrect our reputation before we slip into a downward spiral of mediocrity that could prove difficult to shake off were it to continue. Mayo looked very sluggish and tired last year and some critics even suggested that they did not appear to be playing for one another. This season, however, we retained our division one status with some credible gutsy performances but appeared to hit a dip again a few weeks before the London match.
Every young footballer craves a shot at the glory game in England. Over the past two and a half years Seamus Conneely absorbed all the lessons that life in the League of Ireland brings, but now is an appropriate time to start inking a new chapter in his sporting tale.
St. Jarlath’s College was, as it is today, quite simply the best Gaelic football school in the world.
Next Friday morning, International Rules will visit our screens for the first time since 2006. Following the violent scenes that marred the second test in Croke Park two years ago, the concept is very much on probation with both camps fully aware that any further flashpoints could spell the end for the hybrid game.
I received a text immediately after the final whistle that simply asked ‘What happened Mayo?’ It was from a friend of mine who was convinced that Mayo would beat Meath last Sunday. It was not the first time I was asked that same question down through the years, but this time I wondered at its appropriateness. We may just have to accept the hurtful reality that we just were not good enough on the day. We could apportion blame on a sub-standard performance from the referee and his officials, but that would not in any way explain why we did not finish off an average Meath team, particularly when leading by four points midway through the second half. The reality is we just did not play well enough to win the match.
The question on everybody’s lips ahead of this weekend’s showdown is whether or not Tomas O’Flatharta’s men can rise to the challenge and lower the mighty Dubs. Croke Park is the venue, with a 4pm throw-in for the Leinster semi-final clash. At stake is a place in the Leinster final against the winner of Kildare and Laois, and a crack at winning a second-ever Leinster title.