“If you can dream — and not make dreams your master;
If you can think — and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
- Rudyard Kipling
In the cruel and arbitrary world of sport Mayo have once again been chalked down as losers.
But is the disaster that befolded them any more real than the triumph that shrouded the Dublin players as the final whistle blew?
No cup or medal can determine that, only the players themselves.
Unsurprisingly, it will be the Mayo players who find themselves wandering through more fields of retrospection. (Victory provides a much clearer roadmap.)
If they can avoid the Pit of If (if only I had intercepted that pass, made that run, blocked that shot, scored that point) they will hopefully come to find that they filled the ‘unforgiving minute with sixty seconds’ worth of distance run’ as so brilliantly described by Rudyard Kipling in his poem “If”.
But the days, years, and decades will pass.
And just like the list of All Ireland winners that line the hallway entrance into Croke Park, they too will become no more than a county’s name on a glass wall that people comment upon from time to time: the players’ known only to the fanatics whose specialist topic on Mastermind Mind would be ‘Dublin’s Three in a Row Team 2015-17’.
History will record Dublin as the victors and their third successive title will mark them down as one of the greatest teams of the modern era.
Our generation will celebrate them until those fortunate enough to have seen them play have all greyed and faded away…. our memories of the players and the game buried with us.
That their feat has happened in the communications age means that so long as mankind occupies this earth and continues to be bedevilled by social media and hashtags, no Mayo person will be allowed to forget that the Dubs broke their hearts once more and will be forever ready to do it again.
It takes time for the high and low emotions of the game to subside offering the opportunity to tap into the essence of what the experience truly meant.
In terms of those immediate feelings there is a world of difference between winning and losing (and such feelings are intensified as the stakes get higher).
But when the fog clears you can get to the true essence of what it means to chase one’s dreams to their natural conclusion even if the end wasn’t exactly what you had in mind.
There is nothing more virtuous in this world than to give what has been gifted to us freely without asking or expecting anything in return.
Can one point on a scoreboard differentiate the shared world inhabited by the players of Dublin and Mayo? Only if that’s the prism through which we chose to view that world.