It’s difficult to read Donegal’s current form from their last three outings in the National Football League. Our team was very disappointing again last Saturday evening in Croke Park when league leaders Dublin beat us well. Apparently Dublin were missing seven regulars. Our full-back and half-back lines seem unsettled. The absence of Neil McGee and Frank McGlynn is a factor. Our discipline is certainly upsetting our rhythm.
It doesn’t take much nowadays for a player to receive his marching orders. Michael Murphy’s dismissal for a second yellow card was testimony to his frustration. We are conceding too many frees inside our 45m line while we ourselves are trying to score from difficult positions. This wears down a team’s confidence and saps up energy.
I would have said that there were maybe two places up for grabs after our initial great start to the season. After a host of substitutions in all of the games to date, there seems to quite a number of places undecided.
We were very defensive against Dublin. It seemed at times that this was damage limitation tactics. It’s hard to know. On the positive side, Rory Gallagher hasn’t been afraid to make the hard calls on blooding new talent into the team. We will have to take the odd hit in the process. I still believe that we will be in much better shape in every respect come the championship.
There was a sizeable Donegal contingent at GAA headquarters for the game on Saturday evening and many were very bleak about our prospects this year. It’s a long time until August and we must keep faith in our lads. As it stands we are in fourth position which would put us through to the league semi finals. It goes down to the wire next week.
Many of the Donegal supporters made a weekend out of their trip and a group who I was talking to was going to the 1916 commemorations last Sunday. We have been inundated with information about the rising which shaped Ireland 100 years ago. In this uprising the people who fought for Ireland proclaimed what they wanted. It was recorded in writing on a document so that history would know what they prepared to sacrifice their lives for.
When they signed the Proclamation the signatories must have been certain that in consequence they would soon be dead. In this Proclamation was a guarantee of “religious and civil liberties, equal rights and equal opportunities for all citizens”.
The right to freedom of belief was one of the strongest motivating factors in all of our uprisings throughout history. Religion should not be ignored in our 1916 commemorations just because some people in government say so. Interestingly a note from the British military archives shows that leaders of the revolution sought a priest to give them last rights before their execution.
2nd May 1916:
Letter from British Military Headquarters, Parkgate Street.
“Please tell the Franciscan Fathers at Church Street that Patrick Pearse, Thomas MacDonagh and Thomas J. Clarke wish to see them at Kilmainham Detention Prison, ‘emphasise they must see them tonight’.”
They were executed early the next morning 3rd May, 1916. It is perhaps the fear of those calling that religion should be keep out of our commemorations that we may be perceived as out of tune to secular and modernist Europe.
As we see from the above letter, this was not an atheistic revolution. Certainly there may have been atheists involved and nobody is asking for their beliefs to be excluded. Obviously the faith of our heroes influenced their lives most and should not be lost in our celebrations. Other people in the uprising may have come from different denominations of believers and their way to God may have been different to that of Pearse, MacDonagh and Clarke but they too should be included in the commemorations. People also have the right to choose not to believe and the fight for freedom included them which should be part of the inclusivity. The freedom of those who want to have religious belief included in the ceremonies should also be respected though.
Man has always needed beacons of light to guide him through the dark. Pearse MacDonagh and Clarke did not fear the darkness of death. They knew that greater glory awaited them.
Down through history people have gone to their deaths with their heads held high. It is their faith that strengthens them. A Catholic priest called Fr.Tom Uzhunnalil was threatened with crucifixion on Good Friday by Isis in Yemen. Over 70 people, mostly Christian, were murdered in Pakistan on Easter Sunday. Christians are being persecuted all over the world for their faith. It is evil.
I wonder what our heroes of 1916 would think of Ireland today. We, too, are becoming a land without God. Yes they fought for freedom but their faith was paramount in their lives. Ireland needs beacons of light in our modern world. Let’s pray that we see the light before it’s too late.
Keep the faith!