Facing into the West without those bleak September blues

To win just once: Galway players and supporters share the joy of winning an All-Ireland final after 29-years a-waiting. PHOTO: JOE O'SHAUGHNESSY.
To win just once: Galway players and supporters share the joy of winning an All-Ireland final after 29-years a-waiting. PHOTO: JOE O'SHAUGHNESSY.

Country Living with Francis Farragher

IF you’re a Galway GAA supporter or indeed a Mayo Gaelic football fan, returns to the West, have often been lonesome affairs during the month of September. At that time of year, here’s nearly an hour or so of driving  into that low autumnal sun, as more often than not, supporters from the West don’t have the motivation for hanging around as the Liam McCarthy or Sam Maguire is being presented.

It was though very different this year on the first Sunday in September, as at last, Galway did what they had threatened to do for the previous three decades, when beating Waterford in the All-Ireland hurling final.

This time around, there was no rush for the exit gates from the Tribes on the western shores and no mouthfuls of swear words as to how such a player had been left on, or how an open goal had been missed when it was easier to score it.

There is an invigoration, energy and indeed relief from winning, and especially so when the wait has been for a long time. Could I really have seen the most sensible of grown men and women shed tears of joy when the final whistle sounded on Sunday week last. Well very much so. The water from those wet eyes came from the heart, as at last, closure was brought to minor on all the near misses that Galway had endured in semi-finals and finals since 1988.

We had made our way to Croker on Sunday week last in probably what was one of the last available buses around the place. Functional it was, but a thing of luxury it certainly was, as the tight seats in many cases didn’t exactly match the more ample girths trying to snuggle into them.

Ever bump seemed to be felt and especially along the Ballyforan ‘Bog Road’ but as we chatted on the way down after ‘the job was done’, there was agreement that it was one of our most enjoyable journeys ever. A fifth All-Ireland title had been put on the board for Galway and the year 2017 had been written into the history books. There is just an awesome permanence about the four little numbers that mark the year of winning an All-Ireland.

Sport is, I suppose for most of us, a great escape and we all have our defining moments, many of them from our childhood, when we remember great heroes, sometimes winning and sometimes losing as we recall tears and moments of great joy, in almost equal measure.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.