It sounds as if the inter-county exchanges on the booing and all that are beginning to quieten down, which they should at this stage. Hopefully this will help to draw a line under it so we can move on to think more about next Monday’s replay.
All kinds of catcalling are wrong. Mayo supporters – probably outraged (as I was too) about the decision to give that late free to Roscommon – were wrong to give vent to their frustration by booing Donie Smith as he shaped up to take the free. By the way, I haven’t seen the incident again on TV but I accept fully what others have said about it, i.e. that the decision to award the free appeared, in fact, to be correct.
If that was wrong then the constant targeting of Andy Moran by sections of the Roscommon support was doubly so. Attempting to justify Sunday’s carry-on by what happened at a January kick-about in Kiltoom holds no water, in particular given the vile abuse Andy had directed at him, up close and personal, that day. Wrong then, wrong last Sunday too.
But it needs to be noted that both sets of booing last Sunday were carried out by a small minority of people in the 65,000+ attendance at Croke Park. Their actions shouldn’t overshadow what was a special day out for us folk from west of the Shannon, a day when HQ was taken over by fans from Galway, Mayo and Roscommon.
We’re people who, as Ciaran Murphy noted in the Irish Times last week, are all cut from the same cloth. There’s not a whole pile of difference between your average punter from Ballinlough and his counterpart from Ballyhaunis and no amount of yobbo booing should persuade any fair-minded Mayo or Roscommon person that there is.
As well as being united by the fact that we’re all boggers, we’re all football people too. Rob Murphy remarked to me during the game the last day that the Rossie supporters are, if anything, more stone cracked about their football than we are and I think he could have a point. The bottom line, though, is that we’re all passionate about the game and we all want our team to win.
On Monday – barring some unforeseen occurrence (mind you, who’d bet against that in a match involving us this year?) – either ourselves or the Rossies will emerge as victors from this fascinating All-Ireland quarter-final tie. I’m hoping fervently that it’ll be us but if it’s not I know who I’ll be supporting in the semi-final and that’s the neighbours. As all of you should be too.
Back in 1946 – when the world was a very different place – ourselves and Roscommon played out what turned out to be a very controversial Connacht final (more details on which are in the results archive – here). There was a disputed goal the first day – where Roscommon won by a point – and after objections and counter-objections a replay was ordered.
Feelings between the two counties were clearly running high the day the replay took place, a match played at St Coman’s Park in Roscommon. Perhaps in recognition of this and maybe to show that opposing forces can come together in times of adversity, the unique photo above – in which Mayo and Roscommon players mingled with each other, two teams briefly coming together as one – was taken at half-time in the replay.
That, to me, is the real spirit that binds together the people of our two West of Ireland counties. The above photo didn’t, of course, stop the two teams laying into each other afresh after the break that day and equally we shouldn’t expect any kind of brotherly love breaking out between the teams when the ball is thrown in again at Croke Park next Monday.
But what we can expect is that, as neighbouring counties where country decencies still hold sway to a large extent, those mores come to the fore the next day. So, leave off the booing on Monday and concentrate on roaring your own county to victory. May the best team win … with the hope that, unlike 1946, this time it’ll be us.