independent

Monday 23 April 2018

Sport's supposed to be fun but it's so much more in fact

Billy Dodd's Football Analysis

Billy Dodd
Billy Dodd

After the weekend of sport I witnessed I feel like contacting the Oxford dictionary and asking them to change the description of the words Gaelic games.

The normal explanation should be replaced with the following: Gaelic games…a severe form of emotional terrorism.

On Friday night I watched my own club Sarsfields retain Senior status with an unbelievable display in the last ten minutes of the game, something that looked totally unlikely in the preceding 50 minutes.

Having been dominated for the majority of the game by Horeswood, they were seven points down and deservedly so. Somehow they changed tactics and attitude and proceeded to score 2-6 without reply. I still don't know how we won it but was an emotional roller-coaster.

With 15 minutes left I was mentally preparing an obituary. The Twitter machine was doing overtime spreading rumours of our demise countywide, while a lot of our rivals were rubbing their hands with glee - nothing wrong there because sport is built on rivalries.

Fifteen minutes later emotions were at the other end of the scale and the feeling of joy was only outweighed by the feeling of relief.

After the game I thought of how Horeswood players and supporters must have felt. They were the victims of a smash and grab that saw them lose Senior status after 19 years and three county titles.

The disappointment and desolation they experienced could have been ours, so it is a sobering experience for both the winners and losers of this particular final.

It shows again the competitiveness of club football in Wexford. There's a very thin line between qualifying for a quarter-final and battling for survival.

Every club in relegation battles in the other grades goes through the same emotions and you have to wonder why sport leaves us like this.

It's amateur and it's supposed to be for fun, yet it rules our lives. I don't think we'll ever learn.

One thing I did have confirmed for me in Friday's game is that Lee Chin must be the best dual player in Wexford. His performances over the last few weeks for Faythe Harriers and Sarsfields in crucial games were simply outstanding; he is a special talent.

On Sunday I was one of the lucky ones to get a ticket for the All-Ireland football final.

The game banished all memories of some of the mediocre football we saw this year as both teams left every ounce of effort on the field to produce a contest that had everything.

We were treated to an outstanding game of football with great scores, crunching tackles and many talking points, produced by two groups of athletes in pristine physical condition.

At the end of the game any neutral with any sort of feeling could only be devastated for the Mayo team. As their manager said afterwards, they died with their boots on.

There were a few talking points about refereeing decisions, especially the last free awarded to Dublin, but Cillian O'Connor missed a free he would be expected to score and Donal Vaughan's rush of blood cost them another point.

In tight matches like this, little mistakes and good decisions win and lose games. The over-riding question though is what does a Mayo team have to do to win an All-Ireland Senior football title?

If the Oxford dictionary didn't listen to me after Friday night, they will surely change the description after Sunday's game.

On Sunday Mayo ladies' team have a chance to bring some joy to the county if they beat Dublin in their final.

Former Sarsfields and Harriers man Frank Browne is their manager so hopefully he will lead them to victory.

If you get a chance, watch the game to see one of the greatest ever lady footballers, Cora Staunton, play probably her last game for her beloved county.

Wexford People