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.