For some further reflections on Sunday’s result, I’m delighted to welcome back into the guest slot Stateside Dean who argues that we must use the experience from this year’s loss to drive us onto greater things in 2013.
Anyone who has played Gaelic football, hurling, or any sport for that matter, and has experienced a championship loss, no matter the level of competition, will know the hollowness that comes with the abruptness of defeat. However, I cannot imagine a bigger body blow than losing on the biggest stage of all, to a team Mayo could have beaten but for an awful opening ten minutes.
In the wake of this most disappointing end to another run at Sam, I can’t help but believe the lads will gain from the experience. They will never forget the gutted feeling when that final whistle blew and ended their dream. Nor should they. But it’s all about how they react to this defeat that will be a true reflection of their character. Lesser men whither and are never heard from again. Others rise to the challenge and come back with a greater resolve. Now is the time for our lads to decide which path to travel.
When the dust settles and they think back on what might have been, replay the final game and season in their minds, may they gain strength from their successes and knowledge from their failures. May their pain drive them to lift a few extra pounds over the winter, to run a few extra miles when the lungs burn for oxygen. May they store the agony of defeat in the back of their minds and never let that feeling overtake them again.
A few months ago, if you had asked any of the panel or any of the supporters, I’m sure they would have said reaching the All-Ireland final would be a tremendous accomplishment. And make no mistake, it was the culmination of a fantastic year. But somehow, just getting to Croke Park in late September is now not enough.
It has been said many times throughout history that what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. Perhaps more than for any other county, these words ring true for Mayo football. My God, we must be really strong right about now. May a championship win in 2013 come from that strength.