An odd state of limbo

As the wait for our next Connacht championship outing goes on, I’m delighted to welcome Anne-Marie Flynn into the guest slot for the first time to help break the monotony.

It’s a funny time of year, this. The league is done and dusted, we’ve had our trip across the Atlantic, and in theory, we should be knuckling down to what will be a huge season for the green and red (regardless of the outcome).

Yet, in mid-May, we find ourselves in an odd state of limbo. Restless, impatient, tense. And that’s just the supporters.

For the football fanatic, there’s something comforting about the league and its measured drip feed of football. The weekends become a comfortable routine, built around match days. There’s a reassurance in knowing that next weekend, you’ll have somewhere to go, a game to see, and if the result doesn’t go your way on Sunday, on Monday you start looking forward. The Championship is different. It’s irregular, it’s stop-start, there’s nothing guaranteed and the waiting around can feel interminable.

We need look no further than the circus of the past few days to see that the dearth of football is making us all a bit tetchy. Hungry for any crumb of news. Some might even say a little frustrated. So we burn off the excess energy by focusing on media reports or the county board or Sky Sports. You’d know we had little for doing as we wait for 8th June.

Those of us near the home soil at least have club games for the fix, with the added bonus of having the ear to the ground on all things county-related. Those of us further afield seek out second hand news on the grapevine, mine the papers and the internet for morsels of insight, and resolve to find new, less consuming hobbies. It’s futile, of course.

And we wait.

I said twelve months ago that last year was going to be different. It was.

Last year, we mostly played with a style, a confidence, a sense of self-belief and a swagger that we’d only seen in flashes from Mayo teams of the past. We got used to it. We revelled in it. When it came to the big day, that swagger deserted us, and we felt cheated, deflated.  There was, too, a palpable sense of frustration emanating from within the camp at the manner of the loss. Yet, we heard a bowed but not beaten Andy Moran on the 23rd September last year, not 24 hours after the game, speaking determinedly of the team’s resolve to regroup and give it another shot. And travel plans were postponed, real life put on hold for another year, and within the camp they’re quietly, steadily gearing up again, amidst all the noise outside around rifts in the camp and fundraisers and fights.

We might lament the manner of our exit from the league, but the best laid plans can go awry, and we underestimate this team. Those who form the backbone of that team are not pushing out their own plans and putting their bodies on the line for another year to go out of the real competition with a whimper. Make no mistake, the league is dead and buried. There is one focus for this team, and one focus only, and that is the third Sunday in September.

It’s interminable for us, but imagine how it must feel for this team. In the fourth year of their life cycle, embarking on this long journey again, trying to balance work, travel, diet, family and friends, study. Training relentlessly. Forsaking the nights out of their twenties. Trying to constantly monitor their own performances, evade injury and fine-tune their own bodies over the course of half a year so that they reach peak performance at just the right time.

And we think we have it tough?

They owe us nothing. But we’ll be there behind them, as we always are.

Three weeks to go. Three weeks until the next road trip, the next stop on this rollercoaster journey, be that Carrick or the Hyde.

Step Two awaits.

18 thoughts on “An odd state of limbo

  1. Great piece by the flame haired lady I’m always saying it this team owes us nothing when they’re out training hard on cold winter nights we’re in by the fire ok were doing our own suffering having to sit though Eastenders and Fair City it could be a good Summer yet

  2. Great stuff A M and every word so true. Really starting to get exited about the year ahead.

  3. Great piece Ann Marie, succint and heartfelt.

    To weigh in on the Duffy front, I believe there is something missing from the Mayo psyche and in the words of Ben Dunne, “a change is as good as a rest, and as only I can say, if Dunne can’t do it, it will be Dunne.” Apologies, rambled off much earlier than normal.

    Anyways well done Ann Marie.

  4. Great piece Anne-Marie! My favourite line being “They owe us nothing. But we’ll be there behind them, as we always are.” That’s a fact and I’m kind of glad the CT thing blew up when it did, it’s going to galvanise the support in the county behind the team…These boys are simply unreal to keep coming back.

  5. Well written piece Anne-Marie, I loved it all. “They Owe us nothing” – how true. On those days when thing don’t go our way, and the cold water brigade make their appearance, in amidst of all that nonsense I recall your line “They owe us nothing”

  6. Great piece Anne-Marie, I think the news about Gavin Duffy has electrified the support, about time we got some good news, hopefully it works out well for him and the team. Here’s to another exciting year on the road for the Green and Red!

  7. Yes, some message to send out to ambitious young players around the county and to the rest of the panel.

  8. agree Ultair… he might not make one appearence or he could be a Tadgh Kennelly job and start everygame… but something diffferent is always good.. where did he play on the minor team? Where would he slot in this time?

  9. Thanks for the kind comments folks. I write a piece about monotony only for the Ballina crew of Duffy and Brady to blow it all out of the water the very same day! Timing is everything eh? 😉

    Not complaining, mind – this development certainly injects a bit of excitement for the supporter no matter which way you look at it.

    WJmightdelete, from memory he played in midfield alongside Westport’s James Gill though I could be wide of the mark there.

  10. Great piece Anne-Marie and it certainly got the blood pumping.
    We are all craving the same thing but it is the lads themselves that are making the real sacrifices and putting themselves through the wringer for Mayo. Not us. I wish everyone would remember that.
    Win, lose or draw I’d follow this side to hell and back, barefoot, as they have allowed us to support and speak of Mayo football with our chests puffed out and our heads held high. I remember the days when we were the laughing stock of the country and getting bet out the gate of most venues. Not anymore. No-one gives us a hiding anymore.
    Great piece.

  11. AnneMarie, there’s a suggestion for one of Club 51’s banners….. YOU OWE US NOTHING

  12. Great piece Ann Marie. Like the bit about the league being different to championship. I rarely ever miss a league game. I find myself bonding more with my fellow supporters and even the opposition ones! The championship is bitty but saying that I love going to Roscommon, Tuam and Castlebar – probably in that order too.

  13. Could be a good call alright Seamus though it sounds a bit angry in caps 😛 We’ll add it to the list!

    SInabhuil my best football memories down the years have been from league games (and this year in particular has been great). The sense of camaraderie is more real, or something. You know that if you’re out in the middle of February in the cold and the rain in Mullingar that everyone else there is at least half as mad as you 😛

  14. Great stuff. As supporters we might be gutted when Mayo lose but its nothing to what the players must feel.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *