I was standing in the crowd at Pierce Stadium in Sethil. Thousands of people flooded the grounds. Plastering the blue and white colors throughout the pitch. People from all sides are laughing. Some dance, some spend with passion.
Monaghan players were on the field for 5 minutes after their win against Galway. Shaking hands like politicians on canvas. Writing happiness across their faces. It was a .Historical moment. A spot in their first All Ireland Senior Football Championship semifinal for 30 years.
It’s not often I see special days like this. It is not necessary that your team has a trophy. Sports memories are unique in their own way.
It was a day to cherish, because they don’t come around very often. Not at Monaghan. Not just in the county with a population of 62,000. Ireland is the fifth largest of the 32 counties.
Although I am a loyal Wicklow native, most of my upbringing from my father’s family was spent there. Going from small to early clowns gives a lifelong passion for Gaelic football.
From St Tirnach’s Park to Haley Park and Casement Park, the ferry is an annual ritual directed from the bra to the north of the car to watch men in action. I see several matches a year. There are worse days than good, and those lazily fill in the conversation around the house the next day.
The success of the Ulster Championship in 2013 was a great day. Tommy Freeman steals a famous win over then-All-Ireland champion Donegal for chipping in at a late point. The first Anglo-Celt trophy in 25 years. A sunny day
Malachi O’Rourke’s men repeated the title against the same opposition two years later, scoring five points in the last ten minutes to earn their 16th Ulster title.
For all the celebration and exhilaration that your team is looking to raise a cup, all these narrow defeats, poor performances, and thousands of miles of streets have been stuck for years.
The Gaelic Games are special for this, strictly amateur play by the warriors who dominate the Irish summer. Football, rugby and other professional sports may have their stamp of popularity around the world, but Gaelic games are a fundamental manifestation of Irish identity.
Every club in the world has family, community and tribute values that make the game unique and attract even more players, members, volunteers and supporters.
On that warm August evening of 2018, Silthill’s match was by no means a classic, but reaching the last four of the national competition was a serious success. One that I will always remember.
Conor McManus and Ryan McNespie stepped up in Galway that day and had nine points between them, as Fernie’s men did not win by scoring eight points in the contest.
In the midfield, Darren Hughes was a great personality, who had a guy’s fourth tackle late in the poker game.
McNeppie, the hard working personality of Emmyville, put on the final gloss of a great performance with the end point of the match, a great strike from the outside of his right boot.
It was a special feeling to see the joy of the faces of the soldiers, players and supporters around the length and breadth of the country. It made for heartbreaking and near misses over the years, eventually ending with a semifinal showdown at Croke Park.
Favorite sports memories are unique and personal. From watching various Formula One and golf events, attending Camp Nou and San Siro, watching Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods live for years, I’ve been wasted.
Big event, good for some people. But nothing compares to your roots. This is a game where it all started for you. One that captures your emotions. For me, this is the GAA. Power to the people of Ireland and what it brings to it is nothing to lose.
Working in the UAE over the years, it is often I look back on various memories. And as we get older and our relationships with our family get better, this win at Galway made those years even more unique in traveling to games with my dad.
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