I was in Galway over the weekend to see Mumford & Sons and was treated to a cosmic snarl-up of traffic as the crowds for the gig and the Galway-Sligo match at Pearse Stadium tried to squeeze into Salthill. How could this clash have been avoided? Obviously the GAA should have rescheduled the match. If ever there’s a clash between a GAA match and the Heineken/Ryder/Tiddlywinks Cup, it is the GAA who must give way. This is because . . . well, it just is, okay?
While trapped in the traffic, we were treated to the previews of the match on Galway Bay FM where the voices of reason were quite explicit in their belief that Sligo need not bother turning up. All was well in Galway football, they were heading in the right direction, Alan Mulholland was the man with the plan and Sligo wouldn’t be able to cope. Later on in the evening one of the Mumford boys would react to some soccer-style olé-olé-oléing by asking whether Galway had won. Bless him for his attempts at ingratiating himself with the crowd, but the answer (not that he received one from the crowd) was a resounding no.
What struck me was that I’d encountered such cockiness before, and also its antithesis. My brother says that analysis of Laois inter-county games on Midlands Radio, both in hurling and football, strikes a similar tone. The Laois hurlers could be playing Kilkenny and the talk would be of how with the hop of the ball Laois would stand a fighting chance. Nothing is impossible for the mighty O’Moore men.
Note that these attitudes stand in marked contrast to similar discussions on WLR. The Waterford footballers could be playing Kilkenny and we’d be warned by the voices coiling their way out of the wireless that we must treat them with the utmost respect lest we be caught on the hop. We’re always at our best when we’re the underdog. God forbid that we might get thoughts above our station and expect to win a game!
So what does all this tell us? I’ve always believed that Waterford teams take to the field four or five points down because of the baggage of history and the defeatist mentality on WLR has always contributed to that feeling. But if the experience in Galway and Laois is anything to go by, talking teams up doesn’t make a jot of difference. The Galway hurling team of the late 80’s and the football team at the turn of the century were good enough and didn’t need smoke blowing up any orifice to be able to win multiple All-Irelands. Although what that means is that we’re not doing the same because we’re not producing the hurlers, and blaming the ghosts of the past is an easy excuse. Who would have believed it?
At least we can rely on Mumford & Sons to produce the goods. Take it away, lads: