Difficult to do the double – Jarlath
A FEW years after Derry won the All Ireland, I had a long chat with Seamus Downey, a good friend from our Sigerson days at the Ranch and a great character.
He described in animated terms the elation of winning an All-Ireland and scoring a goal which was a decisive factor in the victory. In doing so, he gave an insight into the heart and soul of a panel of players who decide they want to do something special and just go and do it.
At that time, he used to share a bedroom with his big brother Henry and in the weeks of that summer, would receive regular wake up calls from him in the middle of the night as Henry pondered and agonised aloud the conundrums and obstacles which stood in the way of a first All Ireland for his county.
‘What if the two boys aren’t catching in the middle, what if we can’t get the ball to Brolly, what if the half forward line doesn’t click?’
These and more gum ticklers kept the two brothers up until all hours as they covered all bases and closed every loophole which stood between them and Sam.
‘And what about 1994, was there the same appetite to do it all again?’ I asked. His response was telling. I knew we weren’t going to win it in 1994 because coming up to the Down game, Henry never wakened me once.’
In this revelation, Seamus disclosed the simple fact that once you win Sam, it’s well nigh impossible to keep it.
That hunger, thirst, desire which leads men to die for the cause evaporates. Yes, the sessions are alike, the intensity similar, but deep down there’s not just the same passion as the previous year; some boys are driving new cars, others are getting their photo taken and more are dining out and taking a bit too much to drink as they parade the cup round the county.
All these are distractions which blunt the appetite and take away the killer instinct that is required to win an All-Ireland second time round.
The full story is in the current issue of Gaelic Life, published on Thursday September 6. Buy your copy now in your local newsagent, or you can purchase the online version – for only 90p – by clicking here