The South African Diary …
The lads took myself and Cillian to South Africa as a thank you for picking them this year. Fair play to Stephen who as usual arranged all the logistics and travel arrangements. As a reward we let him take charge of the Mayo team for the FBD games. He can work with the younger lads but they won’t be getting a look in once the real business starts and we get back to picking our buddies. We left Hennelly at home too. No point in bringing bad luck with you.
We couldn’t bring Mammy either and she wasn’t best pleased so we agreed to leave Conor at home too to keep her company. Of course Daddy insisted on coming as he said he did all our training sessions. Mammy told us to look after him but not too much. She said to put him in an open top jeep on his own if we went to a safari park. She’s great.
The flight over was very long but myself and Cillian were in business class so it was grand. Keith kept coming in and robbing our pillows until the hostess told him she’d have him thrown off the plane. He sat down fairly quick after that. We could hear our lads in economy doing their chant, ‘Mayo, Mayo for the Cup, Mayo, Mayo runners up’. It was touching and raw … and real.
The airport was much bigger than Knock and amazingly not a sinner was selling rosary beads. We were going through customs and Cillian was asked if he had anything to declare and he said ‘only my genius’. We hadn’t a clue what he meant but the guard just looked at him sympathetically, shook his head and said that was very sad. Cillian went red. We laughed but nobody knew why.
Table Mountain was excellent. Andy said it was like Croagh Patrick only flat. The scenery was like in Mayo - except without the constant rain. We went to a wildlife park and Diarmuid started making monkey noises at some monkeys. One of them turned around and started scratching his behind and pointing at Diarmuid. It was so funny. Then he started banging his fists on the ground and we all looked at Cillian and laughed. He stormed off.
Seamie wanted to go to Robbin Island though Colm said it might not be a good idea to be robbing in South Africa as you can get shot. Clarkie explained it was where Nelson Mandela was kept in prison but Colm thought Nelson Mandela was a character in the Simpsons. It was very confusing. Anyway Seamie bought tickets for Nelson Mandela House online but when we got online directions it was sending us to Peckham. So we gave up.
Donal arranged for us to go to Mass on the Sunday but we got the times mixed up because of the different time zones and we got in just as the Credo started. He went mad. He said ‘if we can’t get it right for the big man what chance do we have.’ He can be very funny sometimes.
We also went to a local rugby club and pumped some iron. I could tell the locals were very impressed. One of them asked me if I would like to try my hand with the oval ball but I told him we didn’t play rugby in Connacht. Jaysus I don’t think we even have a provincial team anymore and if we do I don’t know the last time they won a match. I told him that the only team in the west of Ireland is Mayo. He really looked puzzled and wouldn’t even believe I was from Ireland. Some people live in their own little bubble. Funny bunch.
Kevin Mc bought a vuvuzela and drove everybody on the bus mad. He was blowing it non-stop until the driver told him he’d put it somewhere that Kevin wouldn’t be able to blow it any more. He went red. We laughed. He said he was going to get a few thousand sent home so that Mayo fans could blow them when we win Sam next year. Daddy said it was usually the Mayo team that blows things. I was raging Mammy wasn’t there to tell him not to be so smart.
Anyways we’ll be home soon but it has been the best adventure since I went to Brackloon Wood with the scouts in 2002. But I really don’t think I could live in South Africa. It is just so big in every way. You would be nobody here. As Mammy always says ‘better to be a very big fish in Mayo than a bloody nobody if you left home’. She’s right – and great.