For those of you not from Ireland you are possibly not familiar with the yearly quest for the All Ireland football trophy, otherwise known as The Sam Maguire (or plain old ‘Sam’ to those of us on first name terms). This year for the fifth year in a row, my county team, Mayo, are in the All Ireland semi-final. To try and explain the madness that infects me and my extended family every year as we follow our beloved Mayo on the quest for Sam would take a long long time. Suffice to say, we are very passionate followers of our county colours. Mayo last brought Sam home in 1951 so for my siblings and me, victory hasn’t happened in our lifetime. For the last four years we have reached the semi-final stage, and for two of those we made the All-Ireland final. It has been an epic journey with high drama, fantastic highs and crushing lows as we get a glimpse of glory only to have it snatched away each time. But, God has it been fun! Although ultimate glory still (as yet) eludes us we have had so much enjoyment following an amazing bunch of young men playing their hearts out for the glory of wearing the green and red of Mayo. (Gaelic football is an amateur sport so the players don’t get paid for their hard work and dedication). If we were to measure the value of Mayo’s endeavours purely on whether they had won Sam or not then it would all be worthless, but if we measure it terms of the journey then its value is priceless. It’s much like life really, if we can only be happy when we have everything we want we will miss out on so much. I’ve certainly been guilty in the past of living in the future ( ‘I will be so happy when I get a new job/lose three stone/move to a bigger house’). The trick is to find enjoyment in the journey and to put less emphasis on the destination. If my happiness as a Mayo supporter hinged totally on the ultimate goal of bringing Sam home I would have had no happiness up to now, but I know that’s not true. I’ve enjoyed every high and low along the way and as I prepare to support them on Sunday as they meet Dublin I know that I will be on the edge of my seat all through the game and win, lose or draw I wouldn’t be anywhere else but in Croke Park surrounded by my family with my heart beating out of my chest with excitement.
It would be nice to win though….maybe this year is ours!!