2009 is almost done and, once again, it’s time to stop ruminating about what might have been in the year that’s dying on us and instead to start turning our thoughts to what might be over the course of the one that’s about to be born. So, no more blubbering into your beers about the manner of our defeat to Meath and what might have been in the minor final, okay? Who cares about all that when the month to come holds the twin delights of the FBD Insurance League and the Tim Kelly Engineering Floodlit Cup?
There’s still the New Year and one more weekend to navigate through before the action starts but hopefully by early next week we might start hearing about a panel for the FBD and then, before we know it, there’ll be some real matches to talk about once more. As ever, I’m looking forward to the year’s football that lies ahead. Not with any great confidence nor, indeed, any funny feelings in my waters (no, that’s just middle-age) about how we’ll fare in 2010 but instead it’s because yet another year’s action is there to be played out and all those abstract hopes haven’t yet been tempered by messy reality. Soon enough that’ll happen.
So, in this rarified atmosphere, may I be so bold as to express three hopes for the year to come? Okay, then – here goes.
First is that we hit the ground running and lay down a few markers over the course of the spring to set us up for the summer. Our path to the All-Ireland series in the coming year will, regardless of whether or not it’s via the front door or the scenic route, be a tricky one so the sooner we’re into the swing of getting used to hard battles, the better. Heck, I’d even like to see us win the FBD.
Second, I’d love to see us claim an All-Ireland U21 title. Ray went oh so close with his two minor teams and it’d be great to see him meld the best of these into an irrepressible force at U21 level in 2010. That’ll be a tall order, as both Galway and Roscommon will also have genuine hopes of going all the way in this grade next year but an U21 All-Ireland would, especially in light of those two near misses at minor level, be something tangible to celebrate as well as being just the tonic to get us to raise our game at senior level.
Third, the seniors need to get back to the All-Ireland series and, this time, we need to do ourselves justice once we get there. I always prefer the Route One approach to getting there but that should be secondary to the straightforward aim of simply securing a place at the table with the big boys once again. The draw means that Connacht will be far from easy for us and we all know what our record in the qualifiers is like so we should be under no illusions as to how difficult it will be to make the final eight next year. If we don’t manage to do this, however, it means we’re backsliding from what isn’t a great position to start with so the aim of lining out in Croke Park in August has got to be our primary one at senior level in 2010.
So, another year of football lies ahead and, from my standpoint, another year of blathering about it here. You might notice that I’ve made a few tweaks to the site, having added page links to my audio ramblings and to a new Flickr site I’ve set up where I’m in the process of dumping pictures from matches I’ve been at from 2006 to date. This latter development is a work in progress, as I’ve only got pictures from 2006 and 2007 uploaded yet (and my broadband connection is acting up at the minute) but I’ll be adding to this collection gradually over the next few weeks and I then plan to add pictures from matches as and when they occur.
Speaking of photos, by the way, do you like the new one I’m using for the banner on the site? It’s from a photo I took at the Connacht final in Pearse Stadium back in July, on a day that turned out to be a rather happy one for us. Here’s hoping that there’ll be days like that to look forward to in the year to come as well. Buen año nuevo, hombres.