Count on Every Bead

After we won the Ulster championship my daughter Cáit made a poster for me. She carefully cut some pictures of the team out of the local paper and glued them all together. And among the things she wrote on the poster was the line ‘All your hardwork paid off Dad.’

Simple. A daughter’s belief. Her commitment. Her love. A simple poster. Her awarenes & recognition of the work that had gone into a bit of success. And the simple response from her, to put it in writing. She knew because she tags along to training with me and does things like set out cones, and I give out to her and boss her about, but she loves it.

Every father loves his daughter. He worries about her, where she is, what she is doing. She will get away with things the boys in the house never would.

My daughter’s poster sits at eye level as I digest the news of Michaela McAreavey’s passing. Every Tyrone fan was well acquianted with her simple handwritten note to her dad, her encouragement probably an unexpected source of inspiration in 1997. Simple, innocent, burning with enthusiasm.

I thought of my hopes for my own daughters. And of Michaela and her husband John. What hopes and dreams did they have? I thought of my own honeymoon in South America looking forward to a life together. What if anything had happened either of us?

At training during the days and weeks after she died, I looked at our players. She was no older than some of them. Young, vibrant women, healthy, full of life, it just bursting out of them. It just shows you, you know not the day and the hour.

Mickey Harte’s achievements have been an inspiration to me over the last nine years. His approach introduced me to the likes of John Wooden and Pat Riley. His message to be your best and to respect difference in other people useful rules to follow. He is obviously a deeply spiritual man. He is also extremely competent in dealing with the dreaded media, the management of the new from the family’s perspective was impeccable to avoid intrusion.

Still, behind all the coverage lies a human tragedy for Mickey, Marion, John, Mark, Micheal and Mattie and the rest of the family circle. They have my total sympathy.

The simple image of Michaela’s rosary stuck in my mind and, like Cáit’s poster, a simple song sparked with additional poignancy.

Here’s a rosary, Count on every bead

With a prayer to keep, The hope you hold.

May God hold her in the palm of his hand. And may John her husband hold on to hope, counting on every bead as his wife would have wished.

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