There’s this wonderful moment in David Lean’s 1965 classic film Doctor Zhivago when Ralph Richardson, playing Omar Sharif’s father-in-law, gives a side-splitting Home Counties interpretation of his Russian bourgeois character. As one of the local lads bursts through the door of the Siberian dacha to deliver the news about the Tsar’s demise, Richardson throws his eyes up to Heaven and, in splendid retired colonel fashion, mutters “Not another purge!”
For some reason, that line kept coming back to me at Croker yesterday as yet another All-Ireland final loss for Mayo began to unfold before our already defeat-laden eyes. Although we weren’t favourites for the title, the Mayo girls have – unlike their males counterparts – a very good track record at All-Ireland level and so we had reasonable hopes of seeing some silverware coming in our direction. The Mayo supporters were also in good form before the off, as this video clip of the pre-match parade shows.
But it wasn’t to be: Mayo were swept aside by a very determined Cork side who were hell-bent on clinching three All-Ireland football titles in a row. Our girls were aiming to inflict a different three-in-a-row on Cork – the loss of three All-Ireland finals in as many weeks – but the Rebelettes were having none of it. They led from the off, kept our attack under wraps until the last minute (when we got two goals that brought a sheen of respectability to the final score), dominated midfield and passed the ball around in a very slick and efficient manner.
Our girls simply weren’t at the races yesterday, though their cause wasn’t helped by a dreadful refereeing performance, in particular the award of a penalty to Cork just before the break for an incident which replays showed was never a foul. Cork goaled from that to lead by six at the break but the real killer blow came just after the restart when a well-worked second Cork goal put nine points between the teams. There was no way back from there.
And so it was, once again, our lot to traipse out of Croke Park having witnessed yet another All-Ireland final defeat for the county. However, at least the girls have won a few in their time and a good number of yesterday’s starting lineup already hold All-Ireland medals. Still, it would be nice – just the once, like – to be the ones celebrating at the end. There’s always next year, I suppose.