Okay, okay – so it proved to be more than yesterday’s news. The Indo has made sure of that, rolling out two follow-on pieces yesterday and another one today. Who knows? Maybe they have a whole week of content pre-cooked and ready to serve up to the nation.
But, eventually, the big tent will come down and the circus will move on. And what will have been achieved? Well, the two lads sure got a whole pile of hurt of their chests and I truly hope they feel the better for it. Yes, they were entitled to their say (though I still hold to the belief that it’s all a little late in their doing so) and nobody can deny but that they’ve now had that. And some.
Anthony Hennigan in today’s Western People (paper and digital formats) and John Fogarty in this morning’s Irish Examiner (here) both report that the players do not intend to respond to Saturday’s tell-all spread. If that’s the case, then it’s undoubtedly the correct course of action. The last thing this fire needs is more petrol and, as I said the other day, the best place for the players to be doing their talking is out on the pitch.
It’s a curious place we find ourselves in now. This blood-letting – with all the attendant barbs, veiled accusations and innuendo – should really have come out right after the heave, not over a year later. As somebody said to me on Saturday, it was as if what happened last year was too easy, too damned gentlemanly. It might have been better to have had the furious recriminations done with back then rather than letting it all fester for so long only to explode in such spectacular fashion now.
But it has and so, a year on, what have we learned? Not a huge pile to add to what many of us heard at the time, to be honest, only now, for good or ill, it’s out in the open. I still have to be convinced there was any point in blowing the lid off the thing but, as the saying goes, the toothpaste is now out of the tube and it’s not going back in. We are where we are.
So on we go, on into 2017. As tempers fade and a sense of coolness returns what really matters is how this exposé impacts on Stephen Rochford’s management of the senior panel next year. He clearly came into a very difficult situation twelve months ago and while it was in many respects a rocky year for him in the role, he still came within an ace of leading us over the line. The hope has to be that, while I doubt very much that he’d have wanted to see the story come out in the way that it did, he’ll be able to use it as leverage to improve us further in 2017.
With all the strong emotion that’s washing round at the minute – and, as cooler heads have observed, there was right and wrong on both sides back in 2015 – it’s easy to forget how bloody close we are to winning the blasted thing. We’re the only county left that hasn’t bowed the knee to the Dubs – even the Kerry lads were tripping over themselves before and then after their semi-final defeat this year saying it was no shame to lose to the best Dublin team ever – and we’ll go into next year, as RTÉ have said today, as no.2 on the grid.
While many counties would kill to be in our position – Meath, once proud Meath, are at 17th on the list, their days of putting it up to the Dubs perhaps gone forever – it’s one we’re no longer at all satisfied with. For us, it’s now the top or nothing. James Horan wanted the big one, so did Pat and Noel, so too does Stephen Rochford. Quite obviously the players want it. As also does our overly-maligned county board. It’s what we as supporters still dream of.
Maybe it all means too much and that the want and the hunger goes too deep. Maybe we all need to take a step back, draw a collective breath and realise that, no matter where we stand on last year’s events, we all want the same thing. And it’s only by standing together that we give ourselves the best shot of achieving it. Is it asking too much for that be our Mayo GAA-related Christmas wish for 2017?