The last metaphorical embers of the Old Year are dying in front of our eyes, our gaze already starting to focus on the New Year that’s set to dawn tomorrow. New Year’s Eve is, of course, a day for looking back and casting a final backward glance from a #mayogaa perspective you’d have to say that, on balance, it’s been a good one.
Sure, we had yet another All-Ireland final loss to deal with but our repeated meetings with that particular gent meant that, unpleasant as it was to have to spend time in his company again, at least we’ve a fair idea how to handle him at this stage. It’s tiresome, God don’t I know, having to have that same bloody conversation all over again with people from outside the county and how they feel sorry for us and how they’re mad at us for failing to nail the job again and blah blah blah but, hey, at the end of the day it’s our cross and it’s one we’ll continue to shoulder until we finally get to cast it off.
But our year didn’t stop and start with that final whistle at five to five on that balmy September evening, far from it. A Connacht three-in-a-row, the first time in my lifetime that we’ve done that, the thumping of Donegal and the way we plotted a route past the difficult challenge posed by Tyrone in the semis will all go down as high points in 2013.
And, of course, the wonderful All-Ireland minor victory, destined (perhaps forever) to be overshadowed by the senior defeat later that day, means that we leave 2013 with significant silverware on the sideboard. Before Mickey Harte ever led Tyrone to the Sam Maguire he brought the Tom Markham Cup back to the Red Hand County and the fact that we now have another clutch of young players with All-Ireland medals in their pockets will certainly do us no harm at all at senior level over the coming few years.
The weeks since September have been hard, of course they have, but thankfully the time for introspection is now almost at an end. We all know that our hopes for 2014 carry more than a little of the Last Chance Saloon variety about them but we’re still entering the New Year in pretty rude health. We’re firmly bracketed with Dublin and Kerry as the main challengers for honours in ’14 – Paddy Power currently have us at 2/9 to claim our fourth Connacht title in a row and they have us down as second favourites for Sam at 4/1 – and there’s no reason at this stage for us to quibble with those odds.
Sure, we have to climb the whole bloody mountain all over again next year just to get another shot at redemption but at least we can look forward with reasonable optimism at our ability to get that shot. And, as An Spailpín Fánach pointed out in that wonderfully evocative piece he did recently for the Western People, a significant part of the joy in being a Mayo supporter lies in the journey rather than the destination. That said, I’d say we’re all good and ready for a dose of September Nirvana at this stage.
So it’s farewell, then, to 2013 with all its many highs and its significant low as onwards we go into 2014. Enjoy what’s left of the old one, see you on the other side.