Well, that’s it, then. After the worst All-Ireland final in at least a decade – the original ‘puke football’ one of 2003 was probably the last time a contest of such awfulness occurred on football’s biggest day of the year – Sam is heading to Kerry for the 37th time. And if The Sunday Game tonight is anything to go by, the new All-Ireland champions won’t have to put up with any accusations of cynical play or a win-at-all-costs attitude ringing in their ears either. That’s what comes with being the game’s aristocrats, I guess.
I’m not going to dwell at any length here on today’s final – it’s too late and I don’t really have the heart for it. You all saw the match in all its dreadfulness so there’s no real need to elaborate any further on it. Like many others, thoughts about what might have been were at the forefront of my mind today as the decider played out but none of this wishful thinking can, I know, do anything to alter its outcome.
What it should do, though, is to reinforce our determination to seal the deal ourselves in 2015. We’ve now had three years of near misses, three championship campaigns which could easily have turned out differently. But they didn’t and our long wait has become ever longer.
It’s obviously the case that the appointment of Noel Connelly and Pat Holmes to lead our hunt for glory was a more important event for us this weekend than the All-Ireland final. True, the timing was odd and the County Board’s inability to keep a lid on the story showed an almost charming lack of cop-on about how news filters out so rapidly in this day and age. The entire process, in fact, left a fair bit to be desired but that’s all done now. Noel and Pat have been handed the reins and they deserve our full and unstinting support as they start to prepare their plans for next year.
Like those of us who sit on the outside looking in, the two lads will have seen today’s awful fare and they’ll know full well that the county team they’ve been given charge of is more than capable of beating that kind of talent in 2015. They won’t be coming in feeling sorry for themselves either and, as we turn our faces towards next year, neither should those who support the team.
If there’s one thing we should take, then, from today’s truly dire decider it’s a resolve that this time next year we’ll be back there and that on the biggest stage we’ll finally produce the kind of performance that will seal our deliverance. Everything we do between this and then should be with this aim in mind.
Roll on 2015. Up Mayo.