A year on

It’s certainly not an anniversary to celebrate but if nothing else it’s worth noting that it’s a full year to the day since our lives were upended due to the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic.

It was on this day exactly twelve months ago that then Taoiseach Leo Varadkar announced from Washington DC the first suite of public health restrictions, including a ban on mass gatherings. Later the same day, the GAA suspended all of its activities, stopping the National League campaign in its tracks and immediately raising questions too about what would happen to the Championship.

A year on and Covid is still with us, even if the advent of widespread vaccination raises hopes that we might, before too awful long, begin to emerge into a post-Covid existence. Whatever that will look like.

The football did, of course, resume last year. A cracking, morale-boosting club season was followed by several helter-skelter weeks of inter-county action, all of it played behind closed doors. We got relegated. We won Connacht. We made it to the All-Ireland. We lost yet another final.

And here we are again now, wondering when we’ll get to see the football return. It will resume, most likely late next month or early in May, but like last year we’ll only get to see inter-county matches on TV as a second year behind closed doors beckons.

It’s set to be a second split season year too, part of the new normal for the GAA. With the club action getting going in the second half of the year there’s a chance – depending on how the vaccination programme has progressed by then – that supporters might be allowed in for at least some of the club games. We have to hope.

I don’t know about the rest of you but I’d love nothing more than to be hopping into the car this weekend and heading away to watch a match. Any match, anywhere – what I crave is a taste of something we all took so much for granted pre-Covid but I guess will never do so again.

The loss of live football action is, I know, but a small element in the Covid-related scheme of things. 4,500 people are dead in this country from the virus over the last twelve months and significant numbers of people have suffered and, in many cases, are continuing to suffer due to its baneful presence.

I know all that and I wouldn’t want to downplay in any sense the profound and lasting damage wrought by Covid over the past twelve months. But damage is doled out in different sized portions and part of mine is a struggle – especially since New Year – to cope with a life stripped clear of so much that made it joyful.

There’s only so much of work, sleep, work, sleep, work, sleep that any of us can put up with. But put up with it we must, for a while longer at least.

Can it really only be twelve months since the pandemic hit? It’s like a decade has gone by since the world we once had – memories of which seem more foreign by the day – was snatched away from us. But it’s only been a year, even if, at times, it has seemed like an eternity.

Like this time last year, though, the days are now once more lengthening, with another summer coming into view up ahead. Another abnormal summer it’ll be but, even if we can’t be there, it’s another chance to follow the lads in whatever kind of Championship is played this year. In a world full of restrictions and holding firm and keeping your distance and all the rest, that’s something to look forward to.

We’ll go again, if only in spirit. Up Mayo.

7 thoughts on “A year on

  1. When things get back to “normal” again – we will all appreciate the simple things in life that we took for granted.

  2. The intercounty meant very little to me last year to be honest. An All-Ireland in the depths of December and hardly a soul to witness it. The club championships on the other hand were a massive highlight. Great weather, great games, excellent coverage – it really was great to watch it progress.

  3. I once told a nurse who enquired how I was settling into hospital that having survived five years in a diocesan boarding school in the ‘sixties anything which might come after, whether hospital, prison or whatever would be easy going.
    So it is with the restrictions which Covid has brought so far. I have been lucky that neither I nor anybody close to me has been directly affected by it so I hope nothing I say will be seen as belittling the pain and sadness of others who have had more bitter experiences. We can only experience our own pain and to say otherwise is nonsense.
    So not being able to see live football or other sports, have a pint in congenial company or a multitude of other restrictions is a trivial issue as far as I am concerned.

  4. With the amount of balls we kick in to goalies hands I thought we might be better off shortening the pitch in castlebar.

    It will be great when we get back to where we were before this plague started. Not just football. A kind of normality. But is there ever anything that we could class as normal nowadays ?

    A worldwide debate ringing in my head about who said what in the Palace. How can people be transfixed by this ? Sure that’s not normal. I care about how my neighbours and family and friends are doing. To me that’s normal. I don’t give a rat’s arse about how people who think they shit marble are doing.

    The older folks who have spent the past year petrified of this plague, the retirees who should have been in coffee shops watching the world maybe, from a leisurely retirement perch, robbed of at least one of those years that they worked all their lives towards. Its been the toughest on them.

    Slowly, the tide is turning. The times will return to what they were 12 months or so ago. The fear for many will fade away.

    Football will return and thank goodness for that. It will be a part of our lives won back. We’ll remember our losses over the past year, and there have been many, but we need to celebrate everything that we can get our hands back on. Football is one of those things.

    We’re getting there bit by bit.

    Nobody deserves to go through what we have all gone through but we have to keep the faith. Believe in something. It doesn’t really matter what it is you believe in but to believe.

    The summer is coming down the tracks and every day that passes we are a little bit safer. It won’t be all that long until we’re heading back through the turnstiles and roaring wisecracks in the general direction of the pitch. A drop of Guinness afterwards and discussing the match for 5 times as long as the match lasted itself. Experts. Geniuses in the pub.

    ” What the hell did he put him on for ” ?
    ” Yer man was playing well. Why did he take him off ” ?

    Thankfully theres always a medical guru on hand in the pub.

    ” Did you not see the way he was limping ? Isn’t it obvious he had a twisted hip “.

    In my rough estimation a Gaelic football match lasts about 2 weeks. 70 minutes on the pitch but by Jesus when the experts in the pub get the scalpels at it it takes about 2 weeks for the full autopsy to be carried out.

    ” Throw out a bag of tayto there to me Joe, I didn’t eat a crumb since half eight this morning “.

  5. I think the priority for the vast majority of Gaels right now is just to get back on the training fields. Even just to have a kick around.

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