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This Sporting Life

Social media lit up this past week as David Brady decided it was appropriate to impart his opinion as to why Gaoth Dobhair lost out to Corofin in the All-Ireland club football semi-final.

The former Mayo midfielder tweeted:  “They will when the dust settles & time passes in a quiet moment ask did they pass up the opportunity of a lifetime. Was there anything they could have done extra. Posting multiple piss ups won’t win you All Ireland’s & that’s not what winning is about. ”

He was of course referencing the celebrations that small club in Donegal had enjoyed when winning the Ulster title for the first time in the club’s history with a one point win after extra time against Scotstown. Their celebrations went viral as videos emerged on social media for days afterwards, as they rightly revelled in their success. That victory came on Sunday December 2, with their clash against the defending All-Ireland champions Corofin coming over two months later. According to Mr Brady, that was not sufficient time to facilitate celebrating becoming the first Donegal side to conquer the province since 1975.

The fact that the area had suffered such a horrific and tragic loss of life in a road accident that claimed the lives of four young men, including Gaoth Dobhair clubman Micheál Roarty, just adds to the crassness of Brady’s tweet. Here was a small rural area that had reached the summit of their province for the first time in their history, and was suddenly plunged into darkness with this tragic event. What did they do? They responded by going out and running the Galway outfit to within four points in what must have been the most horrendous circumstances for any club and parish to deal with, having to park the loss of a friend and club-mate to try and focus on a game of football.

Ironically, that’s probably where the GAA comes into its own. The support structure around a club in a parish at a time like that is invaluable. Everyone reading this column will be able to identify with a day they had to go to a funeral, and met the chairman of the local GAA club as part of the team out directing traffic along with the rest of his executive and a good number of players too. All it takes is a phone call for the local GAA club to rally together the troops, and they will proudly don the armbands to remember past heroes. That’s what community spirit is all about, coming together in good times and bad.  It highlights what local clubs mean to their local area in so many ways other than just being a sporting outlet. Just look at the outpouring of emotion last summer when the great Michael O’Shea passed away. Clubs in Clare paid their tribute to the Kilkee hero by laying out their number 15 jerseys side by side to remember him, with the images circulating on social media in a weekend of unity that offered the briefest of reprieves to those closest to him.

The tradition here in Clare of the team that are beaten in the county hurling or football final visiting the home of the winners on the Monday evening is another example of how the GAA brings people together. These players will have spent the previous afternoon as enemies, but come together 24 hours later to reflect on how proceedings unfolded. There is a bond in the GAA that is unrivalled and maybe that’s what Mr Brady should have focused on. The replies to his tweet from Gaoth Dobhair legend Kevin Cassidy are not exactly appropriate for printing, but they sum up the thoughts of many towards the Mayo man after his outburst. The fact that Cassidy was tweeting the replies from Micís Bar in Gweedore just made it all the more special too.

The commitment that players are giving to club and county in the GAA at the moment has probably never been as intense. While county success is the one will make the headlines, ask any player and they will tell you that club success is the sweetest of all. If we take David Brady’s advice and tell players they cannot celebrate that success, then what is the point? To take one of Cassidy’s replies that can be printed, “What a journey and to do it with the nicest and most dedicated people I’ve ever come across. It will stay with me forever. A few weeks off then we will get back on the horse”.

That’s the GAA. That’s community. That’s what’s important.

About Derrick Lynch

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