We can’t say we don’t know the drill by now. Hopes smashed to pieces – albeit once again by a wafer-thin margin – and another loss to add to the list. There are, I know, many kinds of pain in this world but in sporting terms this is surely the most exquisite type there is.
But the sun has risen again – I know, because I was up from well before dawn, sleep having deserted me hours prior to that – and life goes on. And we all know and accept that so many people drag themselves from their beds each morning carrying far more profound sadnesses in their hearts.
Still, my poor heart is broken today. I’m distraught for the lads and find it impossible to reconcile myself to the brutal reality that despite all that effort, dedication and skill, they’ve once again come up millimetres short.
I know it’s trite to claim that any player or any team deserves to win anything. You have to win, plain and simple, but a group of players who have come so agonisingly close again and again and again do merit some kind of recognition.
Recognition. I think that’s what it is. It drives me to distraction having to listen to the same old lines being rolled out about us, knowing that the fact we haven’t won it leaves us open to more of the same. I would, though, expect that, after yesterday, this team will, however belatedly, get the respect it deserves.
For us – the supporters – well, we know what it’s going to be like. Today is going to be crap from start to finish, tomorrow less so and so it goes on. We’ll be grand – sure, haven’t we just had the best summer ever following the team we all love?
As we both fought back the tears on the way home from Croke Park yesterday, I joked with my son – who was born in and has lived all his young life up here in the capital but supports us with a passion I’d love to be able to bottle – that he’d picked a hard road.
“Would you have it any other way?” I asked. He was emphatic in confirming that he wouldn’t. He’s in a sea of blue today at school, the bravest Mayo supporter I know.
The road stretches out ahead for all of us. For some of you, it’ll take you to Castlebar and the homecoming this afternoon. I won’t make that but next Sunday I will be back at Croke Park – as I know thousands of other Mayo fans will be too – to shout for the ladies in their All-Ireland final against the Dubs.
Life goes on. As it does, as it must. Up Mayo.