Cormac MacConnell: 'Shamefully, I will be hoping and praying that Dublin triumph on Saturday'

Cormac is backing the Dubs in Saturday's Football All-Ireland SCF replay against Mayo, but he fears the great survivors

A motor dealer told me years ago about the perils in his trade associated with the Monday Morning car.

He said that workers along the assembly line tended to make more mistakes on Monday mornings, because they had not fully recovered from the weekend.

This column, I’m afraid, is the equivalent in prose.

I am not hungover, but I don’t want to write a word because I am overcome by a terrible and growing fear for the immediate future.

And I am simultaneously deeply ashamed of myself.

My depression has nothing at all to do with the major national and international issues of the week that’s in it. 

Nothing to do with the upcoming budget, or Brexit, or the prospect of another general election, or the prospect of the White House being shortly Trumped.

I am serene about the bad weather, and onset of winter after the flight to warmer climes of our swallows.

I am not troubled about the immediate future for gentlemen like Shane Ross and Gerry Adams and John Halligan. Not one whit.

The root of my depression, and the associated shame, is my rapidly increasing fear that the footballers from Co Mayo, after all these decades, will finally break the Foxford Curse, a few days from now, and will defeat Dublin in the All Ireland final replay.

I have not had a good night’s sleep since the draw.

Sometimes, I am stricken with shudders and cold sweats.

The tension is awful and that, by God, is the hard truth.

This problem has little to do with sport and our biggest national sporting occasion.

It springs from my life experience as a hack who has lived in all four provinces and worked for my living in every county. And, hard though it is to confess it, I hereby admit that I have a strong bias against just two counties.

One is Cavan and the other is Mayo.

I further admit that bias is tainted by envy and jealousy in both cases, but is nonetheless deeply implanted in my mind. I will take it with me to the crematorium and, should Mayo win the replay it is likely that dread trip will occur very shortly afterwards!

The citizens of Co Mayo are decent, honourable, industrious, intelligent, street-smart, and altogether a credit to their nation.

Because of the poverty of their past, they have magnificently learned how to cope with anything life throws at them.

They would survive and thrive where folk from other counties would perish.

They have proved that, all over the world.

So I am deeply ashamed that my defensive hackles have always stiffened, down all the years, when I visited the county to work there.

However, it is a fact, for what it is worth, that I had the backside torn out of my trousers three times by angry dogs in Co Mayo over a 20- year period, and that never happened to me anywhere else. Not even in Cavan.

One survival incident, of many, stays with me.

Maybe it explains something.

An aged country shopkeeper in Co Roscommon, close to the Mayo border, told me how a band of workmen from Belmullet had been working next door for several weeks and had become his customers.

He was aged, and his sight was poor, at this stage.

After they departed, and this was in the pre-decimal coinage era, he bitterly discovered, through the bank, that what he had accepted as tanners (six-penny pieces) were in fact Miraculous Medals which had been trimmed and rounded to pass as coins.

I can still see them, in the back of his till.

Small things do matter.

A continuing reality which is also a compliment. Many years ago, I reported on the Mayo by-election which saw young Enda Kenny returned to the Dail with a huge majority to replace his popular father.

He was then a young and fresh-faced country teacher.

I reckoned that, like so many other dynastic politicians, he would become almost mute backbench fodder for his party until his retirement.

Were he from any other county (bar Cavan!) that would have been the case.

How wrong I was.

Where is he now? Cannily, like all his county stock, he has survived and thrived, and those who believe he will ride quietly away into the sunset soon should think again.

It won’t happen that way.

He will probably finish up as a powerful EU Commissioner, or something of that ilk. Mark my words.

Anyway, shamefully, I will be hoping and praying that Dublin triumph on Saturday.

I never thought I would find myself supporting the Dubs against any other county but, God forgive me, that is the way it is. And I still see those trimmed Miraculous Medals in the old man’s till.


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