In my capacity as secretary, I feel that I should write a few words about the weekend passed. Now that the surge and swell of excitement has abated, it’s a little easier to look back on a momentous moment in our history. With regards to the games, Stevie has captured that beautifully in his piece on the club website, so there’s no point in me covering the same ground.
However, there are a few things I’d like reflect on. The final against Ilen Rovers was one of the most dramatic sporting encounters I’ve ever witnessed, surely a battle of blood, sweat, tears, physicality, strategy and intelligence. At times it seemed as if we faced impossible odds with small players such as Sean Corry, Brendy Cassidy and Niall Fee pitted against titans in white and green. The heat was intense and as the game progressed it became obvious that the contest came down to who wanted it more. In the losing minutes of the game our walking wounded lay on the sideline desperate to run onto the pitch and make a difference, but they were too far through; even the players on the field were down to their last iota of energy, but there existed that grit, that determination that carried us over the line.
After the bewildering timing of the final whistle, which denied us of a win and ushered in the heartbreak of extra-time, many of us had our minds fixed on the Brian Og 7s final where Drumgoon managed to snatch victory from us in a similar twist of events. I say this with an excess of admiration, the steely determination of our boys dictated that there was going to be no action-replay of that defeat. And so they went on ….. and the rest as they say, is history.
We didn’t even hear the final whistle, we witnessed the players sink to the ground and the supporters on the far sideline storm the field in state of jubilation that was quite frankly frightening. It wasn’t too long before our beleaguered players were back on their feet; the coin dropped and we knew that the U14s were victorious. There were tears of joy and disbelief, back slaps, bear-hugs, dancing, jumping, screaming, cheering and the field awash with Maroon and White was ours. Our little team from the Wetlands of Fermanagh, all-Ireland Champions. It was almost too much to take in.
As Stevie said in his reflection, it was a squad and not a team that won the final. Every kick, every catch, every pass, every block, every interception added up to an outstanding result in the face of extremely hostile environment and the boys deserve this victory because they paid for it – and then some.
As I said on Sunday evening, this game wasn’t won on the hurling fields in Carlow. This game was won over the past two years when all of the drills, skills and techniques that Stevie Jackson coached into our lads came together. This game was won because through Stevie, the boys practised and re-practised set-pieces and developed creative solutions and adaptable play until they became embedded. This game was won through the ingenuity and innovation of John Pakenham who can read the play like a chess game and can make the right moves at just the right time ensuring that the deployment of skills are most effectively placed on the field. Altogether, this game was won by the combination of players and management having complete faith in each other, playing for each other, having pride in their community and a devotion to the Maroon and White.
Of course in the background are the parents who support their children and come along to games and provide lifts, counselling and encouragement. There are those who wash the jerseys, there are the parents and friends of the club who made the long trip to the South East for the weekend, there are supporters sitting at home glued to the internet for the latest titbit from Wicklow and Carlow, there are the technoheads who uploaded the information (and do a great job on the website throughout the year). There are all of the men and women who decorated the village, rallied the troops and prepared and served food in our clubhouse to welcome home our little heroes. There are the anonymous donors who contributed a fiver or a tenner here and there (and in some cases a lot more) for the Feile campaign, the parents who contributed prizes for the raffle at the Cavancarragh Players’ production and Rory Foy who very generously sponsored the U14 Jerseys. Thank you one and all for everything that you do – that’s what makes this club great.
In a quiet moment on Sunday evening I saw Big Jim Breen studying a photograph taken of Tempo playing a Belfast team on Mourne’s field in the 1960s. Jim had a wistful smile on his face and when I spoke to him, Jim talked me through the game with a crystal clear recollection. I’m sure that in his mind Jim was back on that field; full stretch, two feet off the ground and catching that high ball that was coming in. A moment in time captured beautifully in that grainy black and white snapshot of glory.
That’s what our boys have to look forward to, a lifetime of memories where they brought honour, fame and glory to the Maroon and White.
Sean Murphy (Secretary)
Seán MacMurchaidh (an runái)