The magic – for the parish and the people – of County Final Day

All through the week we could feel the excitement building up and everywhere we looked, the maroon and white was to be seen – big flags, small flags, bunting and balloons on every house, ESB pole, tree, ditch, gates (in my case) and there was a great sense of anticipation all around the area.

  Most times the maroon and white only comes out if Galway are in a major final and of course because we live in a border area, a lot of our neighbours (the Rossies) wouldn’t have it out anyway, but this time it was ourselves and houses that would never embrace the Galway colours were all proudly flying the maroon and white flags of our little half parish.

  We, a half-parish with probably the smallest area to pick in Co. Roscommon, were back in the County Final for the first time since 2011 and we were determined to make the most of it. Funnily enough, when we played and lost to Clann na nGael in Kiltoom in 2011, although it’s only five years ago, I don’t remember any great excitement around the place at all. Maybe it’s because we didn’t really believe we could win that one, whereas this time we felt we had a decent chance and that with a bit of luck we could pull it off!

  Anyway, as the week went on, every flag, cap, armband, wristband, headband and ribbon flew out of Mikeen’s door and by the morning of the match, when I went to get myself an extra headband, there wasn’t a single item left on the shelf! 

  On Friday night, the County Board and Club Rossie hosted a big ‘Up for the Match’ special in John Doorly’s pub in Roscommon and representatives from ourselves and our opponents, Kilglass Gaels, along with those from Oran and Kilmore, who were to meet in the Intermediate Final, were invited along. I was meant to go along but a dose of the flu put paid to that, but I hear Creggs were there in large numbers and we were very much to the fore when it came to the entertainment side of things.

  Club legends, Sean ‘Bags’ Keegan, a unique talent when it comes to recitations, and singers Seamus Keane and Mary D. went down a storm with the large attendance and all told it was a great night’s craic. There was a draw for one of the clubs to have the use of the Club Rossie bus to go to Strokestown and, irony of irony, Creggs won it courtesy of Mary Keegan’s (wife of Sean) winning ticket and on Sunday morning a full busload of supporters, all clad in maroon and white, headed off to the big match in the luxurious brightly-coloured primrose and blue bus. It’s a safe bet that will never happen again!

  On then to Sunday morning and by then my diet of hot lemons and Strepsils for the sore throat were beginning to work, (with the help of four nice pints of Guinness on Saturday night) and after the obligatory Sunday morning fry-up, myself, Tara and Carol hit for Strokestown just before one o’clock. We were heartened to see a big good luck sign at McSharry’s in Fourmilehouse, presumably compliments of Peter Keegan, and further on Philip Shanagher had a load of maroon and white balloons flying at the side of the road. Another lone flag was flying high on a telegraph pole, but I have to say that for me the nerves were really bad and if I was actually playing I could hardly have felt worse.

  Anyway we made it to the pitch in good time and in fairness the Strokestown club did a fantastic job in hosting the two games. The stewarding, parking facilities, even down to having tea, coffee, minerals and all kinds of goodies for sale, and of course the pitch itself were just magnificent, and all I can say is well done to them.

  I talked to a good few football people, including Athleague’s Anthony Flaherty and his wife Geraldine, Oran’s Mattie Whyte, shook hands with Kilglass man Aidan Tully and headed to the far side of the field where the crowd was not quite as big. By now you will know it all ended in a draw and I know Seamus Duke will have his report on the game elsewhere but, all I can say is that I was a very relieved man when the referee, who had a good game, blew the final whistle and we escaped with a draw. We’ll do it all again in a week or two, but at least for us the favourites tag is well gone and we know how lucky we are to be still standing.

  In today’s Independent, someone wrote about the club being the heart and soul of the GAA and Sunday proved how right he was. All four teams brought great passion, colour and excitement to the day and the remarkable thing was that it was all, in a manner of speaking, for nothing! The Intermediate final also ended in a draw and it too will have to be replayed. It was a strange feeling when it was all over, sad but yet relieved and I am glad to tell you that we recovered quickly and had a thoroughly enjoyable night in Mikeen’s. The 33-year wait goes on but at least we have another chance. Here’s hoping!

  Before I leave the subject, all over the country county finals in both hurling and football were ending in draws – and the one thing that shows is that there is usually very little between two teams in a county final. For all of the clubs everywhere who got a second chance, it’s now up to each of them to try and make it count, so good wishes to them all and the best of luck.

Creggs Harvest Festival countdown

It’s hard to believe that the Creggs Harvest Festival is almost upon us on the Bank Holiday weekend, and preparations are well underway to make this the best one in many years. There are loads of new events taking place, which I will tell you about over the next couple of weeks, but one old reliable that is definitely on is the Craft Fair.

  That great woman, Bina Harris, asks me to let you all know that it’s on the Bank Holiday Monday in the school and kicking off from 11 o’clock (in the morning, not night!). The Craft Fair is one of the special events of the festival so, if you have small bit of spare time on your hands, make sure you get down to it, where you will surely grab a bargain. 

And finally…

Finally for this week, it looks like an all-time record return from our recent fundraising dance in Dowd’s in Glinsk and we are delighted to announce that this year’s total is €5,400. This is by a long way the biggest ever, so thanks to all of you and we will be handing over the proceeds to both very worthy charities in the next few days.


Till next week, bye for now