Agony in the Garden goes on after a day of biblical disappointment

At least the parachuted balls landed safely, avoiding the goal-posts and Hawk-Eye

Boxer Amir Khan be confusing, especially  for Michael Lyster, who mistook him for cricketer Imran Khan during yesterday’s All-Ireland final broadcast on RTÉ. Photograph:  Paul Thomas/Getty Images.

Boxer Amir Khan be confusing, especially for Michael Lyster, who mistook him for cricketer Imran Khan during yesterday’s All-Ireland final broadcast on RTÉ. Photograph: Paul Thomas/Getty Images.


Oh, Mayo. “The Agony in the Garden goes on,” as Colm O’Rourke put it after a day of senior biblical disappointment, if not minor, for the county, one that probably convinced them that it’s just never again meant to be.

And the general consensus had been, give or take a few nervous nellies, that this time might just be different.

“You know the way you get a feeling this could be your year,” former Mayo supremo John Maughan had confided in RTÉ’s Clare McNamara when they bumped in to each other on Jones’ Road. “I think our name is etched on it.”

Still, though, 1951 is neither today nor yesterday, a heck of a gap to bridge, although judging by the hale and heartiness of Pádraig Carney on Up for the Match, you’d have thought Mayo’s last All-Ireland triumph was a wet week ago.

It wasn’t, though, Mayo’s man of the match from the 1951 final, home from the US to see the 2013 lads end the drought. He was hopeful too, although his spirits might have been deflated yesterday when he heard both Colm and Joe Brolly tip his fellow county men to prevail. Mind you, to balance that, Pat Spillane tipped Dublin, which most probably reflated Mayo hopes.

“(James) Horan has weeded out the losers,” said Joe, “I feel this is Mayo’s time.”

Made of steel
“I think this is a Mayo team made of different steel,” agreed Colm, Pat begging to differ for a number of reasons, not least the usefulness of the Dublin forwards.

“But,” said Joe, “Dublin are the Amir Khan of Gaelic football – dazzling attack, dodgy defence.”

Michael: “Not being a cricket fan, Amir Khan . . .”

Joe: “He’s a boxer . . .”

Pat: “You were thinking of Imran.”

Michael: “I was thinking of Imran.”

Joe: “How much is the national broadcaster paying you for this?”

But Michael should have been forgiven for being bamboozled by Joe’s googly; he’d already had a golf discussion with Paul McGinley, so was no doubt addled by the day’s sporting potpourri.

McGinley, of course, was a useful Gaelic footballer in his youth, a knee injury forcing him to pack it in and resort to golf where he’s had to settle for €10-ish million earnings and a life of globetrotting. “You only took to the golf because you got injured playing Gaelic?” asked Joe. “Yes,” confirmed Paul. “What terrible bad luck,” said Joe, “you could have had nine Leinster medals.” McGinley almost nodded, you know.

Outside, two match balls were being delivered by parachutists, and one assumes they landed safely because some of us switched back to the post-minor-final chat on TV3 for fear they’d land on top of the goalposts, prompting Hawk-Eye to call a “point”.

Speaking of which. Did that first Mayo non-point, which the referee handed over to Hawkeye, not appear to actually go through the post? Ger Canning kind of thought so too, but he was slightly blinded by the sun, which had him wearing shorts sleeves, rather than his customary All-Ireland final day thermals. If Ger was a global warming sceptic before yesterday, no longer.

Half-time and Mayo led by a point, but the panel wasn’t happy, having anticipated a final of loveliness. They were, sighed Joe, “like boxers in a heavyweight contest”, slightly tiring as the break approached, “a bit like Sachin Tendulkar and Waqar Younis,” Michael almost said.

Pat was gutted, having expected something along the lines of the ‘Gunfight at the OK Corral’; Joe was feeling very let down by the Mayo forwards and their “wishy washy” carry-on, Colm stepping on to clarify matters: “What you’re trying to say lads is it’s a poor enough game.”

It was a bit, but then Dublin upped things a notch or three and by the time they were done they’d made it two All-Irelands in three years, when, three years ago, there was am entire small generation of little Dubs who thought their county was allergic to Sam Maguire. Funny old game.

Would Mayo be back? “Mentally, it’s going to be an awful struggle,” said Pat, reckoning a bit of rebuilding was required, that post mortem a fair old contrast to, well, the pre mortem, when his colleagues had a notion the Mayo reconstruction was complete.

Joe and Colm looked dazed, but that might have been largely because Pat’s prediction had been correct.

“Take me away from the city, and lead me to where I can be on my own,” Bagatelle had bellowed on Up for the Match.

Poor old Mayo might just have adopted it as their own tune on the way home.

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