The Gulf War
Every car load of supporters on the way home from Castlebar on Sunday would have had their own debates, discussions, post mortems and reviews of our Semi-final clash with Mayo. Hearts would have been heavy at another comprehensive defeat in a venue that has never brought us any joy. Solutions would have been proposed, suggestions made about the future and what have you. Many of those heading home from the West had also been in Páirc Seán on Saturday evening for what was a very similar outcome in the Electric Ireland Minor Championship, so it would be easy to understand gloomy feelings.
For a moment let us imagine that instead of being just a supporter on Sunday, that we were on the team coach on the way back to Carrick, as a player, team Manager, member of the backroom team or a County Board official. Then we would realise what real disappointment felt like, reflecting on all the long evenings and Saturday mornings training in the snow, sleet, cold and rain; the thousands of miles travelled while the rest of us cosied up on the couch; the injuries that required painful treatment; the hours spent away from home; the social life sacrificed; the strain of continual demands on time; the challenge matches played at championship intensity; the hard slog day after day, knowing that the same effort was being put in as it was in Kerry, Dublin or Donegal, but yet the almost insulting odds being offered by bookies on any hopes of success.
Being a Leitrim footballer demands a really special sense of dedication and we all admire and respect and acknowledge their efforts for the green and gold. Those car loads coming from the match and those following the game from afar would have had nothing but praise for every single one of them who played themselves into the ground, despite the odds being stacked against them and further injuries on the day making their job even harder.
It’s back to the Qualifiers, a sort of a Scóry world for us to date. But the loyalty of the players and all connected with the team will rub off on us all and supporters will be out again in big numbers to rally to the cause.
In the coming months the talk will be of the gulf that exists between teams, with many counties being put to the sword in both football and hurling – we see it weekend after weekend – Leitrim is not alone.
Let the debate, which will surely be heated at times, rage on. For the moment we will focus on our next championship outing, knowing that every player in a Leitrim jersey will put Sunday behind him and be ready to give of his all again.
25-Jun-12 by Tommy Moran