Friday, 24 May 2013 14:02
DespairDISAPPOINTMENT. Despair. Dejection. Desolation. Desperation.
Lots of words starting with the letter D that gets close but not quite close enough to describing how Westport United supporters felt on hearing the final whistle in the Connaught Cup final at Lecarrow in Roscommon on Sunday.
Defeat is an accepted part of taking part in competitive sport but when it happens in such cruel circumstances as it did on Sunday, it can be a bitterly hard pill to swallow.
If you weren’t in Lecarrow and you haven’t heard what happened, here’s a brief summary. The game was in its final couple of minutes of the 90 when Ballinasloe attacked and Gary Cunningham, the Westport goalkeeper, suffered a serious finger injury when diving at the feet of the attacker. Cunningham, incidentally, was excellent on Sunday, impeccable in everything he did.
Eight or nine minutes passed while he was being treated and when play resumed the fourth official indicated that there were to be five minutes played. Ballinasloe scored the winner in the fourth of the five minutes and Westport, despite dominating most of the second half, simply ran out of time to snatch an equaliser. It was gut wrenching in its finality and totally ruthless in its efficiency.
A female passenger in the car on the way home described it as being like ‘having a light switched off all over Westport’. It was fairly apt. It looked like all of Westport had travelled to Lecarrow and the silence that befell the support as the final whistle sounded was eeriness personified.
But what to do? It’s life, it’s sport. In life, as in sport, we take hits but we don’t hang around feeling sorry for ourselves. To paraphrase the song from sometime in the mid- ‘90s, ‘We get knocked down but we get back up again’.
Rest assured, that’s what the reaction of the Westport players and management will be. It will take a few days to put the disappointment to bed but a game in the next few weeks will help the healing process. It always does. The next game is always the most important game anyway but this time it’s even more so.
Something to ponder for those who are finding it difficult to shake off the disappointment. Think about Danny Scahill for a couple of minutes. This time last year he was celebrating winning a Connaught Cup title but not long after that he had surgery to remove a cancerous tumour on his bowel. He spent over two months in hospital before starting a period of recovery that’s now slowly getting him back to his normal self. Put it all into perspective for a moment and wouldn’t every Westport United supporter give back every great day out that we have all shared with Danny in the past decade just to see him wearing the red and black jersey again. Now that would be worth any amount of Connaught Cup medals.
Lovejoy’s gesture of making a beeline towards Danny when he headed the first goal summed up just what his colleagues think of him. It’s a feeling that is shared by all supporters.
Let’s be thankful for what we have.
Gulf in class between Mayo and Galway
MAYO put Galway to bed nice and early on Sunday and from reading and listening about the game and viewing the highlights, there appeared to be a huge gulf in class between the two teams.
Given the rivalry that exists between the two counties and the huge history that is there, that the game was effectively a walkover will have had many traditionalists scratching their heads. All the talk in the Mayo camp ahead of the game seemed to centre on getting the focus right. It was almost as if the Mayo set up knew that they had better quality footballers than Galway and were further advanced in their development.
However, they also knew that any slackness, mentally or physically, would be punished by Galway. So they got their heads right, played the game, not the occasion, and did what they set out to do. All things considered, it was an excellent day at the office for all associated with the squad. Now they must wait another month before they play again. In the GAA world, this type of delay between games seems to be almost welcomed but it does make you wonder about the effect it has on teams and how they prepare.
Nothing quite sharpens a team like regular matches but the way the GAA season is set up, that hardly ever happens. At least no one team has an advantage (apart from the odd team that builds up momentum through the qualifier route) but it does seem strange that if Mayo take the straightforward route to an All-Ireland final appearance this year (i.e. no replays, no qualifiers) it will have taken the best part of four months to play six matches. It’s fair to say that the process is a tiny bit drawn out.