The worst of times …
Mammy said Jesus wasn’t really appreciated at the time and it took a couple of thousand years before they hung his picture in houses with lights and candles in front. JFK’s appreciation was a far shorter span mind you. I feel somewhere between the two to be honest. I am a saviour in my own land and yet feel like I am being cut down in my prime. I think it’s in the Bible that a profit is not recognised or something. Daddy said some day I’ll come into the town in triumph … I was chuffed but Shamie said he meant a type of car.
But it has been the worst of times. I hear people going on about terrorism and hunger and war and all and how they have it so bad. But they have no idea – none – about what it is to lose your place on the Mayo team and then lose a Connacht semi to Galway. Some people genuinely have no perspective at all.
Bring dropped for Sligo was okay because they aren’t a real football team. I let Cillian and Stephen pick the team again for Galway and was waiting for the captaincy and even had my speech ready for the dressing room. All about Dunkirk and Churchill and fighting them on the beaches and all, because it was Salthill. Then they said I was on the bench – again. I admit I threw a wobbler there and then. ‘Who the f*** is gonna take selfies with the fans in the warm down’ I said. ‘This is not good enough. Just because Stephen has negotiated student rates for all of us for Tayto Park does not make him a real selector. He is just the kit man and now there is only one O’Shea but two Ballintubber altar boys. Even Conor as a token gesture is gone. I am not going to take this sitting down. Well I am but I am not at the same time if ye see what I mean.’
Donal said to calm down but it is ok for him and he after getting his place back. Amazing what a free pair of brogues and a pair of Converse canvas can do for a career. Cillian put his hand on my shoulder to comfort me but I just grabbed him and pushed it away. Next thing he was rolling on the dressing room floor again, clutching his face and crying like a banshee. Stephen said well done Cillian, that’s a minimum yellow. I stormed out and slammed the door behind me shouting that they hadn’t heard the last of this. Then I realised I left my comb behind me so it was a bit embarrassing to have to knock, say sorry and then grab the comb and duck back out. But it beats going out with your hair not at its very best. Needs must.
I went home totally dejected and Mammy knew by the way I roared into the drive throwing up the gravel that I was very upset. She said nothing but no sooner had she tidied up my gear and cleaned my boots than she arrived in the TV room with hot chocolate teeming over with marshmallows. She’s great. I watched my compilation of Dermo’s finest moments – which runs to six hours and went to bed. If I’m tired I watch Cillian’s finest moments as they only go on for three minutes. On the way to bed Daddy called me in and said I should consider a career in the legal profession as I spend so much time on the bench so that was nice.
Galway is never kind to a Mayo man and this semi final day was no different. In typical Holmes and Connelly style the bus got delayed for 8 seconds in Ballinrobe but the real issue was Headford for Mass. There was a foreign missionary celebrating it and it was just chaos. We couldn’t make out what he was saying. We stood when we should have knelt, knelt when we should have sat – just disaster. When someone offers you the sign of peace from a kneeling position you know it is chaos. The whole experience shook us.
As usual the weather in Salthill was shocking. Whoever thought of building a holiday town here needs their head examined. The fact that it only survives because it is so popular with Nordies tells its own tale. Bundoran, Salthill and Limerick are the Irish Bermuda triangle … except more bodies have gone missing in the Irish version.
The minor game was cat. Slaughtered again by the Galwegians was a foretaste of what was to come. I got a sense of deja vu about the whole thing before the throw in. Like it was all happening again - for some reason. Galway tore into us and we looked a little off the pace. Same as for the last 66 years. Then Keith committed the unmentionable. Kneeing a guy in the privates. Mammy used to go mad when I did that to Shamie. ‘His voice is high-pitched enough’ she’d say. We were down to 14 and I figured I was bound to be sprung from the bench now as I am worth two players and would even things up. But no. Despite me hounding Stephen he kept saying it was up to Cillian. But he was too busy reffing the match and diving. In fairness he jumped into one of their lads and got him black carded. People think this is random with Cillian but he puts in huge effort and time in training in perfecting this and credit should be given for that.
I kept asking him at half time. ‘Can I go on?’ I did it like in the car when we are going for a spin on Sundays and I ask ‘Are we there yet?’ I must have asked about twenty times. Even Kevin Mc said ‘Jaysus Aidan will you stop – you can have my fecking place if you stop.’ Then I started adding in ‘please’ and the please was getting longer every time. Like pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeease. I was enjoying it now and had forgotten what I was asking for after a while and then the second half was starting and I remembered. I was just about to go doing a few selfies with the crowd when Stephen said ‘take your top off’. ‘Great’ I said, ‘Am I coming on?’ ‘No’ he said, ‘I’m just a bit cold’. Just then Cillian roared over ‘Plan Z’. Stephen roared back ‘Last resort?’ and he said yes. Then my number went up.
The hairs stood on the back of my neck as I waited to go on. I had forgotten to brush them at half time. The crowd were going mad and I heard Mammy shouting ‘Ya big thick fecker!’ which shocked me. Then I realised I was replacing Shamie so she was obviously not pleased with Stephen and it was aimed at him. She hates when we’re on the bench and hates it even more when we’re taken off so she was going right off on one. She’s great.
When I came on we suddenly had everything we were lacking – power, pace, stamina and sheer good looks. I did some pretty amazing things but while I may be a bit stubborn I am not a pack mule who can carry thirteen men on his back. Once again Cillian couldn’t find the target with a gale force wind behind him and Evan Regan had a couple of Aido-type efforts that would only trouble a barn door. Before I knew it the final whistle blew and there we were – gone.
I warmed down right where Flynn could see me and then stormed into the dressing room. Then I picked up the gear bag and stormed back out again. I am getting really good at this storming lark. And I didn’t forget the comb this time either. Mammy was waiting in the car park – I think she was gunning for Cillian and Stephen because she had the Club Mayo umbrella swinging. I told her to leave it so. She huffed a bit and then said she’d take us to our favourite ice cream parlour in Salthill where we always used to go as kids. It was great and totally made up for being knocked out of the Connacht championship. Conor, Shamie and myself were pouring over the menu when the man asked Daddy what he was having. ‘A shit Sunday’ he said but your man said he only had fudge or caramel sundaes. We all laughed our heads off – even Mammy. ‘Three tubs for three tubs’ said Daddy. ‘Do you want nuts in them?’ ‘Will ya stop’ said Daddy ‘I’ve enough nuts to last me a lifetime.’
Sure life isn’t all bad. Roll on the qualifiers … again.
To be continued … maybe …