We’re already well into the day before our All-Ireland quarter-final clash with the neighbours, so much so that this time tomorrow the curtain will already have been thoroughly raised by the day’s opening acts and the ball will have been thrown in on our clash with the Rossies.
The day before a big game at Croke Park – and, amigos, we’ve certainly had our fair share of those in recent years – always feels like a mini-lull, a calm before the storm, if you like. The build-up has been built, the teams have been named (even if they’re likely to be altered prior to throw-in tomorrow) so it’s just a matter of counting down the hours now.
Well, that’s how it feels for me, domiciled as I am within a handy half-hour’s amble from HQ. For many of you, of course, there’s a trek across the country yet to be done but, barring replays in odd venues, I’ve done my trekking for the year. We’ve finally reached that time of year when the spotlight shines on Croke Park and the select few teams who have done enough to get this far.
On this occasion, of course, it’ll be a veritable exodus out of the West. They’ll need to put Guards on point duty where the M4 and M6 merge at Kinnegad as tomorrow at HQ the vast bulk of the attendance will be from the New York side of the Shannon.
That’ll make it a day to be savoured. But then we’ve had plenty of memorable days following this team, days we’ll look back on wistfully in years to come. Malachy Clerkin has a piece in today’s Irish Times – which is here – on this very topic, one that I was honoured to speak with him about and which also includes input from my Mayo News football podcast buddy Rob Murphy and Club 51’s Anne-Marie Flynn.
That link to the piece – a full-page feature in the sports section of today’s paper – doesn’t actually do full justice to it. The print version has a panel running along the middle of the page, which contains comments posted on the blog last Saturday.
They’re time-stamped so you can see the progression in mood before, during and after the dramatics in Cork. Several of you feature in this mood-swing time-series. It’s well worth getting the paper to see this for yourself and to confirm whether or not you made the cut.
There’s other coverage today too but I find that, when you reach 24 hours or less out from throw-in, it all become a bit of a blur. There’s a time for talking and a time for action and we’re now veering sharply towards the latter.
If you haven’t yet set out from the West, safe driving and keep that voice rested for tomorrow. There’ll be plenty of time to holler at the Rossies then.
Back in the morning with a few final pre-match thoughts. ‘Till then.