The Cause Endures.

I have fought the good fight.
I have finished my course.
I have kept the faith.

2 Timothy 4:7

I have had people ask me over the last day or two how I feel after our Toome Riders cycle on Saturday.

The answer is simple. I felt fine when it started, fine half way through, totally wrecked for about eight miles when I hit the proverbial wall and reasonably OK for the last few miles home.

Thanks to the people in the group I made it home with the group. I would have got home by hook or by crook, taxi, support vehicle or phoned home. Anyhow, the strength of the wolf is the pack, and the strength of the pack is the wolf. Paul Boyle, Damian and Frances and the others made sure I wasn’t me fein on my bike. Go raibh maith agaibh.

In retrospect, I don’t really know why I agreed to do it. I can’t say I particularly enjoyed it. I don’t mind when I’m out on the road cycling but this idea of building up miles didn’t do it for me I have to say. Others really got into it and I admire their effort from afar.

Part of me wishes I could have cycled 100 miles but for several reasons, none of which I’m sharing here I decided that I wasn’t doing it and that I wouldn’t be able to do it. More summer horriblis than anus horriblis but that’s my personal story.

Dressed in the ridiculous cycling garb I felt like the only gay in the village. As my friend Martin Dummigan used to say, the outfit was so tight you could almost count the hairs. Marty I would add wasn’t talking about men in cycling gear just in case anyone would get the wrong impression of him.

On reflection it has been interesting the appeal the Toome Riders cycle has had to all cross sections. There are people now bought into and involved with Eoghan Rua that would previously not have been. Next thing we can get them to sign up as bona fide members.

These sorts of events like fashion show tend to attract new interest. It serves to broaden the appeal of the GAA to show that it’s not just about kicking ball, pucking a sliotar, shouting at refs and talking shite at committee meetings. Having done work for Croke Park and written about social fabric, we are living breathing examples of it in practice.

Over the years we have organised Corporate Dinners that raked in the dough from builders coining it in the boom years. We have had ticket draws, bike rides x 2; fashion shows. We have had duck races. We have built our pitch which is something for everyone to call their home.  And on Sunday I was talking to one of the other senior members of Eoghan Rua. He was been around here longer than me and is someone I respect enormously for all he has done and continues to do.

As we ruminated on the goings on and comings and goings and all the recent successes on and off the pitch, we agreed that the success of what is being done now will only really be gauged when the next generation takes over.

They will have a pitch and a clubhouse and a user base that we never had until now. And there will be coaching expertise and the Eoghan Rua way of doing things. Of the attention detail that we know brings success, and how that will hopefully be firmly embedded in the fabric of the place so that players find conditioning and diet and community involvement and commitment to the cause and loyalty, punctuality and the importance of team over individual – all things worth buying into.

In listening to Kilkenny men talking about their success – underage success and silverware is all very well – but at the end of the day, you are wanting to turn these mini gaels into senior players.

I once went to a beach in Oman called Ras Al Hadd where greenback turtles hatch and return to the sea. On their way down the treacherous sand they have to make their way past crabs that try to intercept them to kill them and pick over their remains.

Their way of catching the fledgling turtles is to pluck out their eyes. A small proportion of turtles make it through, to take their chances in the open ocean. There, other challenges await. And they don’t even have their parents there on the sidelines as they make their run for it, screaming at them and urging them on. The mark of success is when they return years later to the same beach to enable the next batch of turtles to be born and set off on life’s path. And so it continues.

And as I contemplate my own continued active involvement, it would be rewarding and reassuring to know there is a legacy that can be built upon. When I go out the swing doors in the next year or two I hope to meet plenty more passing me in the other direction. There are certainly more bodies than there were. I am tired at times and don’t know for how long this can continue.

The advertisment says ‘Ask not what your club can do for you, but what you can do for your club’ echoing JFK’s famous words.

Eoghan Rua has given me opportunities galore. I have some great friends and there are players that I will meet in years to come, and with a single glance we will know we shared some of the times of our lives.

On Sunday at Croke Park I looked at that spot at the foot of the Hogan steps with a certain disbelief that I had ever stood there and listened to Méabh’s words.  “Tá athas an domhain orm an corn seo a glacadh. . .”.

Senator Edward Kennedy said when conceding defeat in his own ultimately failed bid for the White House:

“the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die.”

The same words are in my mind, resonating, reverberating, except for me they reflect optimism, and the promise of a bright, bright future.

One thought on “The Cause Endures.

  1. Good stuff Joe. Insightful.

    Truth is I’m not ever sure folk at the club realise the enormity of the achievement. On and off the pitch ER are simply a total credit to everyone involved in the club. Makes you proud to be associated with it.

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