Resolute McLoughlin is nobody's victim
Kevin McLoughlin: "I suppose if you dwell on it for too long you probably won't make it back there again. You can't go on reliving it." Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho
It’s onwards and upwards for the UCD student as he gets ready to face Kerry, writes MALACHY CLERKIN
You are wrong about this Mayo team of James Horan’s. They do not think the way you think they think. They are not crushed bugs beneath the heel of whoever gave them their last All-Ireland final beating. Or anyone else for that matter. They know your pity is only derision that’s been taught good manners so they’d quite prefer it if you kept it to yourself, thanks all the same.
Take Kevin McLoughlin. This is not a broken man. He may have lost an All-Ireland and been the most championed omission from the All Stars at the back end of last season but the 23-year-old UCD student really has no bone to pick. Sometimes these things will go your way, sometimes they won’t. If you’re allowing the rising and falling of life’s waterline to be determined by it, you’re looking at it the wrong way.
Ask if he’s managed to bring himself to settling in for a viewing of the All-Ireland final and he’ll tell you that not only has he watched it, he’s done so over and over again.
Some people can quote you every line of Pulp Fiction; McLoughlin must be able to bang out Martin Carney’s “From the tip of Malin . . .” speech at the drop of a hat.
“I’ve watched it plenty of times,” he says. “I think I’ve watched it five or six times. I always look back on games I play in whether we win or lose. It’s something I always do to see what we could improve on, personally and as a team. Maybe I could pick something out I wouldn’t have thought of during the game itself. I actually watched it three days after the All-Ireland. No one could believe I did. I think it’s important to move on. You can’t dwell on something too long.”
Hardly the words of a hapless victim. McLoughlin gave himself a couple of days off college after the final but he was back in class by the end of the week. Mayo had still been standing when 30 other teams were on the flat of their backs so anyone looking for a sob story wasn’t going to find one with a glance in his direction. Fair enough, they hadn’t been good enough for Donegal but then neither had Kerry, Cork or Tyrone and nobody was hanging black flags for them.
“I fully got over it a week or two afterwards. I got over part of it because I found myself being able to watch the game without regret as such. I suppose if you dwell on it for too long you probably won’t make it back there again. You can’t go on reliving it.
“That was my first All-Ireland final. I think there’s only a handful of guys who were there in ’06 and in our minds we’re a new team and we set our own agenda and our own path. Obviously, we lost but I don’t think it’s anything in relation to previous All-Ireland finals. Players’ perception is completely different [to the public’s] in that regard.”