Cormac MacConnell: Pulling out all the stops in Mayo but...

Cardinal TImothy Dolan and Archbishop Charles Brown, Papal Nuncio to Ireland, leading pilgrims from New York to Knock Shrine at Ireland West Airport last Sunday. But the boost for Mayo won't rub off on their footballers, fears Cormac.

Dear Taoiseach,
I know that we are still in the Silly Season, but please believe me when I state that my longtime Fianna Fáil tongue is not wedged inside the tonsil end of my left cheek...

When I send you the warmest and absolutely genuine good wishes from Brian Boru territory in Co Clare this week.

I abandoned Fianna Fáil about 20 years ago, but my mental template is still imprinted by the years of blind allegiance to the Soldiers of Destiny, and so I can assure you that it is still difficult for me to send felicitations and indeed thanks and praise in your direction. But it is done now... and I feel somewhat healed.

Political snipers inside your own party are nowadays beginning to mutter about your leadership, heading into the upcoming general election. You were wearing your brown scapulars and probably a Miraculous Medal on your visit to Knock at the start of this week. That was good and wise thinking.

As a Fianna Fáiler who covered the by-election that brought you into the Dáil in your late father’s shoes all those years ago, I freely admit today that I erred in my judgement of you when you won the Mayo seat. I thought you were another diffident and shy young teacher that would become an element of the dynastic backbench fodder.

I was very wrong, and now feel that you have done a mighty job as our Taoiseach, through very difficult times indeed. You are entitled to feel proud of yourself on most fronts.

Young bloods like Varadkar and Coveney are being tipped by less wise minds than mind to take over from you soon.

The heat is building but, as the sniping continues, I recall what happened to the young bloods of opposing hurling teams who pulled dirty strokes against Jack Lynch, when he was in the height of his pomp for Cork.

Everybody present saw the fouls against Lynch — a mild-looking man like yourself — but it took a long time for even the experts viewing the games to note that, without any visible retaliation at all from Lynch, the player who had timbered him so badly would be carried from the field of play generally unconscious, and certainly unable to continue. There is a moral there for young bloods in every sphere to be aware of. The pure truth, yet again.

But Taoiseach, out of the goodness of my heart, can I tell you here and now that the issue nearest your heart this week... and mentioned by you publicly in Knock... is, of course, your dream of being in Croke Park next month and seeing Mayo win the Sam Maguire.

And, Taoiseach, though you are pulling out all the mortal and spiritual stops on this one, and even wearing scapulars again, that quite simply is not going to happen.

Your team is going to go home empty-handed again, just like all their predecessors of many decades now.

I am genuinely sad to have to tell you that, yet again, you will have to wear your steely troika face in the Hogan Stand, when the long whistle blows out the candle of your dream.

In fairness, you have done everything in your power to change the old scenario this year.

You have flooded the miracle village of Knock with hundreds of nun and priest pilgrims, all devout, most of them possessing Mayo blood.

You have even imported, for Heaven’s sake, one of the most powerful American Cardinals, in the imposing figure of Cardinal Timothy Dolan, also the Archbishop of New York.

The new tidal wave of American pilgrims into Knock Airport will certainly add to the power of all the litanies for a Mayo triumph in Croke Park.

But sadly, Taoiseach, even that will not be enough. Another defeat is certain at the end of the autumn day. The honest but sad truth.

Politics, as you have learned the hard way, is a tough business.

But when August and September come and Sam Maguire gets closer, that is a more brutal business altogether.

Three Cardinals and ten scapulars and 15 Miraculous Medals would not be enough.

Prepare your troika face yet again.


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