Before I even got out of bed this morning, I could hear the rain falling and looking out of the window now to see a leaden sky from which a full day’s worth of rain has surely still to fall and where the temperature is barely half what it was in Italy last week makes me realise that my two weeks of dossing around is over and that it’s back to the coalface again. Oh well, it was fun while it lasted.
It’s a bit the same with the football, though there’s oodles more in the Mayo News today if you still want – as my blogging colleague TIALTNGO puts it beautifully – to continue letting that winning feeling soak in. In this regard, here’s Mike Finnerty’s match report, Edwin McGreal’s player rankings (he rates Andy as MOTM, which I reckon is fair enough, not least for his quick thinking right at the end to release Peadar for the winning score), Daniel Carey’s post-match reactions, an analysis piece by Mike Finnerty, more analysis from Sean Rice, a piece on both teams’ tactics by Austin Garvin and a bit of colour writing from Daniel Carey. Crikey – with all that output, those Mayo News boys have been working as hard as our half-back line did on Sunday.
But it is time to move on and to start thinking ahead to the next challenge that awaits the lads, this time in the All-Ireland series under the full glare of publicity at HQ on the August Bank Holiday weekend. But we can, of course, only do so in broad-brush terms because the daft-as-a-brush championship structure means that we won’t know who we’ll be playing in the quarters until next weekend. It could be Kerry, it could be Kildare, it might be Meath, it could even be the poor old Rossies again. Like all the other counties that have made it through to this stage (as well as the four that have still to do so), we’re all in the one boat and we’re all headed for the same bare-knuckle ride from here on in.
From our perspective, we’ve still got plenty of work to do to meet the higher hurdles that now lie ahead of us. Had we kicked on after Conor’s goal and ended up winning by ten points (which we could easily have done), the media would now be touting us as serious All-Ireland contenders but instead we’re going to be able to sneak into this particular party largely unnoticed, hopefully allowing us to announce our arrival in a confident and positive way in the quarters. Who we’ll be going to this party with the weekend after next has still to be determined and so any serious analysis of the challenge that’s facing us will also have to wait until we know who will be barring our way in that one.
Meanwhile, there’s all this lovely rain to contemplate: Gerry said on the weather forecast last night that it might have stopped by Saturday. Irish summers, eh? Like the championship structure and John Bannon’s refereeing and that hole that is Pearse Stadium (with apologies to that sporting Galwayman who left a comment on the site last night – that’s the last pop I’ll have at the place till we play there again), it leaves a lot to be desired.