The Jones Road leading to Croke Park last Sunday had never been so colourful.
Throngs of people edged along exchanging good humoured banter.
Half of them would leave Croke Park triumphant while the other half of them would depart disconsolate.
Unfortunately we trudged from Croke Park empty and stunned. It will be a day that will be etched in the memory of most Donegal supporters for a long time to come.
It was disappointing to see so many Donegal supporters leave the game so early in the second half.
I appreciate that Donegal was trailing by a considerable margin and that it was drizzling then. A sinking ship should never be deserted.
We were all hugely disappointed, no more so than those who can empathise with what the players are suffering.
Paddy McGrath sat beside me on the team bus on our way back to Donegal. His first words were “Reid, how do you get over that”? I said “time.”
Paddy has loads of time as does most of this Donegal panel. GAA games in general receive an inordinate amount of media coverage.
Donegal got many’s the hiding in a time when media coverage was minimal.
Nowadays, matches are analysed meticulously by reporters, pundits, panellists and ex-players such as I.
As a former inter-county manager of mine Brian McEniff used to say “Mea culpa” (my fault).
When Latin mass was said back in the day, this expression was used in the Confiteor. I got it wrong when I wrote that Donegal would beat Mayo.
I could not foresee how we could be beaten by 16 points. Were Mayo brilliant or were we just poor? Both actually.
Mayo played as we did last year. Donegal were competing for the first 10 minutes. Then Mayo took control.
They were defensively strong and played scintillating football. We were unable to reach that same intensity and could not match their power.
A semi-final meeting with Tyrone now awaits them. On Sunday’s display, one would have to say that they are very much on course to win this year’s All-Ireland title.
Dublin or Kerry will play in the other semi-final. Dublin’s defensive frailties were exposed by a disorganised Cork team last Saturday evening.
The All-Ireland championship is once again a very even championship.
Tyrone may suffer from tiredness and injuries because of the amount of games they have paled to date.
Still, they have almost three weeks to sort themselves out and one cannot rule them out of the equation.
I would like to see Mayo go the whole way. They been lamenting their lack of success forever now and this year may see them eventually cross the line. I wish them every success.
Donegal will lick their wound and take their defeat on the chin.
Our players and management owe the people of Donegal nothing.
Two Ulster titles back to back coupled with an All-Ireland title in three years are tremendous achievements.
Our players have given us great joy, restored pride to our county and entertained us with passion and pride in their jersey.
The majority of supporters only see these players on the field of play but, would have little appreciation of the sacrifice that both players and management endure through a season.
The life of an inter-county footballer may be glamourised by the media especially via television but, it’s not like that.
Some of the players are married with young children. Others have normal jobs like everyone else and some are unemployed.
They are still amateur players who give up practically all of their free time for the love of the game of Gaelic football.
If you are despondent about Donegal’s loss last Sunday and left the game early, spare a thought for the players who made you so proud in times of victory and the hurt that they and those close to them go through.
You have probably recovered by now. They haven’t, but, they will. It only will take longer.
We should be expressing our gratitude to Jim McGuinness, Rory Gallagher and the players for all that they have given us.
The majority of our team are young. They have bright futures and because of them so will we.
In the meantime, keep the faith and Tir Conaill Abu!
Mary’s Meals ‘Step by Step to feed a child’ Malin to Knock walk is underway. Walkers left Malin on Wednesday and are expected in Ballybofey (McElhinneys car park) on Friday afternoon around 2.15 p.m. Come and join the walkers for an evening of fun with ‘Mad Marcus’ in Harley’s Cheers Bar Ballybofey from 9.00 p.m. everyone welcome.