I saw a tweet today from Donegal footballer Karl Lacey. It asked ‘what day is it?’ I wasn’t one bit surprised at this. I’d say the celebrations in the hills were out of this world. There is a level of madness in Donegal that makes other counties jealous. It’s a natural madness and one filled with fun and good humour!
Donegal came to the capital last weekend and they were not leaving without the cup. I had two tickets for the match and decided to give them away to a true supporter of the GAA who had never been in Croker for an All-Ireland.
Being from Kerry, we were lucky enough to have been there a few times in recent years. Never in my life have I seen a scramble for tickets. Even with Kerry and the Dubs in the final last year everybody got a ticket on the day, but this was not the case this year. There were reports of people paying thousands of euro for them (I hope these people were from Donegal and not Mayo). I don’t like hearing stories of people paying so much; it’s not within the spirit of the GAA.
'Up for the match' is a TV show that goes out live the night before the match. The TV show is always great fun and it really adds to the occasion. Michael Murphy’s (the big Donegal full forward) father was in the audience, he’s a Mayo man. When pressed on who he’d be supporting he said that he will always shout for his son, even against his own county! I thought that this was a great TV moment!
The game itself was over really after the first ten minutes. If Donegal had scored the third goal, the Mayo crowd would have been crossing the Shannon by half time. Mayo tried hard but to no avail, they needed a goal and never came close! It seemed on TV that the Donegal supporters far out-weighed their Mayo counterparts; I thought that they might have been behind the cameras or something, but when speaking to friends who went, they said that half of Donegal were in Croke Park! I was happy for the Tír Chonaill men, but still felt for Mayo, always being the bridesmaid!
I really like the way Donegal Manager Jim Mc Guinness took his family out on the field while the team was doing the lap of honor. He even had his young son kick a goal; it’s seemed his family was more important than anything and that they were a huge part of the whole thing. The families are often forgotten about in the middle of all the celebrating, even though they have to suffer the most with all the training and so on.
There is a tradition that the winning team heads for the Boars Head pub on Capel St the morning after the final. This tradition was started by the Kerry players a few years ago. A Cavan man is at the helm of this house and a man who understands the GAA and an early morning thirst! He’s a friend of mine and he sent word when the lads landed. I was drinking coffee and found it very hard not to have a few pints.
The Donegal lads were in great form as you can imagine. I spent a lot of time talking to Michael Murphy, Christy Toye and Rory Gallagher and I have to say you couldn’t meet nicer lads. They are really down to earth and great fun to be with. Murphy turned to me at one stage and asked if I’d come to Donegal with the team and we all laughed. He said it again about half an hour later and he wasn’t joking. He said that there was one seat left on the bus! Christy Toye threatened to put me in a headlock and carry me off! I’ve a feeling that if I had gone with them I’d be asking the same question as Karl Lacey this morning!
So that leaves Donegal with a 100% record in All-Ireland football finals, the same percentage as Kerry in All-Ireland hurling finals!