Gaelic football is not something I normally write about. When it features on this blog it is usually from the pen of Padraic Mac Coitir. I defer to his knowledge but do not share his passion.
I don’t have a reservoir of interest for the sport, much preferring soccer. Which might just make me something of a pariah in the eyes of the culture vultures. If so, I never notice their swoop or the flash of their talons. And if they descend, they can respectfully perch on what remains of Galileo in a museum in Florence.
Yesterday, I figuratively switched tops and watched the All Ireland Final – at home. I had the offer of viewing it in a bar with Tyrone supporters. A friend had invited me out to Swords to watch the game over a few drinks with him and some of his mates. I like Swords bars but the thought of making the journey didn’t appeal to me. I had an inflamed toe, to boot. Forget the pun. Travelling to Navan hospital on Monday to have my left foot x-rayed, I managed to hurt my right one, leaving me to feel like Mayo Man. Now it is more painful than the original that was giving me gyp. Upshot - Swords can come again. The rest I just have to put down to age.
With my son in the States, I watched the final with my wife who, while not as knowledgeable about sport as my son, is nevertheless good company when these events come around. She gets so involved, and howls and roars in a way that I don’t. Two puzzles remain from Ireland's recent game against Portugal: why she didn't end up hoarse; how I avoided going deaf. Fuck’s sake or donkey is about as much as I might mutter, often barely audible, during the course of a game.
Normally I would prefer to see Tyrone win. On this occasion, I threw my voice behind Mayo. They hadn’t won Sam in 70 years and I have a few Mayo friends whose sense of disappointment is invariably palpable. My friend who had invited me to Swords had been winding me up during the week that Mayo were Blueshirts. That hardly mattered. I always think of Michael Gaughan and Frank Stagg when Mayo is mentioned, not Fine Gael, These things have a way of balancing out, and politics has never shaped my sporting loyalties. Hence my preference for Glentoran.
Tyrone were good and were worth their victory. Their slick movement and coordination was a spectacle to observe, even if the best pass of the game was from the team in green, a scything, swerving diagonal distribution delivered with surgical precision, which Messi could have laid claim to. That will earn me a frown from the purist but as the physicist Sean Carroll says, being a heretic is hard work. Mayo might be disappointed but their performance was disappointing. The amount of chances they squandered, including a penalty, left me thinking that comeback and Mayo mentioned in the same breath must be a reference to next year.
Gaelic football is a hard fought sport. When players go down, it is because they are injured rather than them seeking to perform the Neymar Napoleonienne. Yet for all the physicality of a contact sport, nothing was produced at yesterday's game that would equate with Harvey Elliot's injury sustained today while playing for Liverpool against Leeds.
While a neat reverse pass, the Liverpool allusion was not executed with the aim of bringing me back to my main interest - soccer.
Mayo will push that stone up the hill of Sam again in the hope that they get it over the top, unlike so many of yesterday's attempted points. Until then it is hard to follow the lead of Camus and imagine Sisyphus happy.
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