Photo: @Derflah via Twitter
Well, at least in this respect there was something about this year’s All-Ireland final weekend that was better than the one last year. Twelve months ago it hammered down rain all day long the day after we lost to Donegal, with the result that the homecoming event at MacHale Park was a dreary washout. This evening, in sharp contrast and despite the fact that yesterday’s senior defeat was far more depressing all things considered compared to last year, the homecoming took place in bright Indian summer sunshine and the faithful assembled at MacHale Park in their thousands.
Photo: @CronaEsler via Twitter
But it wasn’t, of course, just because of the weather that this happened. This evening, for the first time in twenty-eight long years, a Mayo team was returning with silverware won at Croke Park on All-Ireland final day and so it was only right and proper that the minors should return home to acclaim with the Tom Markham Cup in their possession.
Photo: @AngelinaNugent1 via Twitter
It was appropriate too that Enda Gilvarry and his victorious minor team were given top billing at the homecoming and it looks as if the well organised and well attended event (which RTÉ estimated was some 8,000 strong) may have done something to help ease the pain of yesterday’s senior loss. As I indicated early this morning, I didn’t travel west for it and so I’ve only got snatches of what was said – this RTÉ report covers the event briefly – but James and Andy both seemed to have uplifting words for the occasion, with both of them keen to stress how positive the future could be for the team and what good prospects they have of reaching the promised land.
Promises of jam tomorrow are only ever of limited use, of course, but at least there was significant silverware for the late evening sun to glance off at MacHale Park. And because of this success, there has to be optimism about our future prospects. To come back a third time on the trot for a serious tilt at Sam next year will take a massive effort but at least the minors showed yesterday that defeat in every single final isn’t destined to be our lot. The bittersweet joy at this evening’s homecoming must, then, help to point the way for us when the time comes for us to march again.