Photo: @JoeMcCormack via Twitter
A full week on now from our latest All-Ireland final defeat and it’s not getting any easier, is it? I did say in the immediate aftermath that this one could well prove to be the hardest one of the lot to take and a week on I’m even stronger of the view that this is how last Sunday’s agonising one-point defeat to Dublin is fated to be recalled. No, easy is not how it’s going to be.
The stuff that has begun to seep out in the days since about ructions within the camp in the lead-up to the final won’t exactly help the healing process either. United we stand, divided we fall and all that. Regardless of this issue, however, the recovery time from this particular final defeat was always going to be longer compared to twelve months ago and the process far more painful.
Last year it was far easier to regroup and go again. Sure, we left that one behind us too but, apart from the first ten minutes, we played pretty well in that final and it was fairly obvious that a redoubled effort in 2013 would leave us well placed for another serious tilt at Sam. Can we say the same now of 2014?
I’m not sure what we can say at the minute, to be honest, and I’m not sure what we should be saying right now either. Maybe the best thing would be to let everything calm down and to leave all thoughts about next year until the raw emotion that’s currently swirling round – one increasingly dominated by anger, by the looks of it – has subsided.
We will be back next year, of course we will, and it’s very likely that James and most of the current squad will once more carry our hopes into 2014. We’ll know as early as this coming Thursday what our Connacht championship campaign for next year will look like and once the draw is made it will help to shift the focus away from last Sunday and onto next year.
Dealing with defeat is never easy, dealing with repeated defeat is even harder. But dealing with self-inflicted defeat has to be the hardest of the lot, which is why, I guess, even a week on from when it occurred the pain is still as raw as it was then and the anger about why it happened continues to rise.
But deal with it we will and once the New Year comes around the appetite will start to come back. Belief will take a while longer to be restored but in time that may happen too, even if it feels right now that it’s going to take a fair bit of convincing to elevate our hopes to that level ever again.