In advance of this weekends Limerick Senior Football Final, this piece by cheebahs pc was written back in 2006 and appeared in a School Magazine at the time
It's 1994 and while the rest of the country is basking in the glory of our 'successful' world cup campaign, I'm about to have my first taste of that most special sporting occasion, the Limerick Senior county final. My memories of that day are vague, it was a warm, sunny August afternoon but aren't all childhood summer memories sunny. I travelled by bus with the rest of my under 12 football team. "Hats, flags and headbands". I buy a flag and a headband for fear that I might be mistaken for somebody from Galbally. I also purchase a programme and try to familiarise myself with the names of our team. I'm impressed and slightly envious of my friend's knowledge of some of the Fr. Casey's players. "Oh yeah, sure he hangs out with my brother, he was over at the house the other night". I nod in awe that one of these players had actually graced my friend's house with his presence.
Yet despite not knowing one single person on the team, for the next 60 minutes they mean more to me then anything else imaginable. I cheer and roar until my voice disappears completely. I don't remember much of the match except that we kicked a lot of bad wides, the corner forward's name was 'Spider' (that was an easy one to familiarise myself with) and we lost. On the pitch afterwards I can still see grown men in blue jerseys on their knees crying and despite not knowing any of them; I too felt their pain and was close to tears.
Fast forward twelve years to Dublin city, as far removed from a farm in the countryside in Abbeyfeale as you can possibly be. Train times and bus connections play on my mind. I negotiate a half-day from work, make my train and by 7-30 that evening I'm on the field of dreams in Tournafulla ready for a battle against Athea. A gaelic football match in high summer and the belief that this year will be your year, I wouldn't want it any other way.
My three abiding memories of this year's successful campaign are, firstly, the defeat to Ballylanders in the qualifiers. This game put doubts in my mind, were we up to winning a county final after this? The car drive back up to Dublin that Sunday night was the longest journey of my life. I got my answer three weeks later when we turned the tables on Bally and beat them by one point after trailing by ten points, ten minutes into the second half. Scenes of unprecedented emotion greeted the final whistle. We were applauded off the field into the dressing room. I noticed some supporters with bloody knuckles obtained from hitting the galvanised iron in the stands.
Finally, leaving the pitch after defeating St. Senans in the county final. As I enter the players tunnel I hear my name being called out. To my left hand side there is a group of young kids, possibly u-10 or u-12 with outstretched hands. I don't recognise any of them. "Ah go on Peter, please". I give them a 'high five' and head for the dressing room. The next generation? Heroes all.