Updated: 10/04/17 : 06:14:56
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Showgrounds ovation inspires thoughts of mires, spires

By Eugene McGloin

ONE HUNDRED years ago Boyle was one sure place where Sligomen could set foot and sign up for the war in Europe.

BIshop Coyne even publicly offered to provide a motor car to make sure you got there and back in one piece, from Boyle that is. 

It was one of a hundred memories going through my head during the standing ovation for Boyle Celtic players in the Showgrounds yesterday evening, Sunday.

Their epic ''road to the Aviva'' and junior soccer's Cup Final there next month had just run out road. 

Boyle had scored first and early in yesterday's semi final showdown with Kilkenny visitors Evergreen United.

The westerners were much fitter and dominated both periods of extra time after the first ninety minutes ended 1-1. The entertainment quotient was high. Hope was high.

The margins are tight at any level.....and crueller by giving glimpses of Glory in the mirror and then whisked away, like a ghost walking across a battlefield.

Boyle's warriors seemed headed for sure for the Aviva Stadium at 5pm yesterday evening.

Their keeper Kyle Suffin saved the first penalty after extra time and the train whistles to the capital could already be heard.

Then the official Man of the Match Danny Browne and my own Man of the Match, Gerard MacDermottroe, each failed to score with their penalties.

Past Century

The standing ovation and prolonged applause was deserved. This team 'left nothing in the dressing room,' always the fear on any big day. 

Yesterday was one of the big days in the history of Boyle Celtic AND Sligo.

The two have often cotermingled over the past century, as their club chair Paddy McLoughlin reminded us in the excellent programme for yesterday's game.

''Boyle Celtic has a long history of friendship with Sligo Rovers and many players have graced both jerseys,'' said McLoughlin.

''Today's gesture'' -- of hosting the biggest game in their history -- will further cement that friendship,'' he added.

Well over four decades ago the late Paddy Morahan of Boyle and Doorly Park would regale us on trips with tales of soccer in his homeplace.

We were on a regular trek with Hugh Crawford to see the best club team ever produced in modern Irish senior soccer, the Finn Harps team of 1969 to 1974.

Paddy kept talking about this guy 'Hal' from Boyle, so often that I wondered did he exist at all. 

Maybe it was Hal, the lovable computer life-form from the film ''2001: A Space Odyssey'' he was thinking about.

But there was Hal, Hal Cawley, spread across two full pages in the superb programme prepared by Purcell Print for yesterday's game.

The other thing Paddy Morahan talked about incessantly on those regular  'foreign trips' up to Finn Park was his dream for The Showgrounds.

Not just the team players -- that too -- but above all the need to make a marvel playing surface.

Mire, Slope

Those who remember the mire and slope towards the railway end in Sligo must have thought that was pure pipedream stuff, the stuff of fiction.

Shur hadn't Paddy cycled to school every day with one of the greatest ever men of Irish and European fiction, the late John McGahern.

McGahern even sneaked Paddy under a non de plume into one of his lighter stories set about Boyle, north Roscommon and south Leitrim around Carrick.

Their school photo in Carrick is now nearly seventy years old but even without any captions you can unmistakably choose both chums, carefree.

Parish Honour

Writers: Once the best selling book in Ireland was ''Knocknagow'' by Charles KIckham in 1879.

It told the (timeless) tale of Matt The Thresher, one Matt Donovan.

Matt was an athlete inspired to do things for, above all, ''the honour of the old home.''

One moral from the story is not just that he was inspired by it but that we can,too, be inspired by him in turn and especially how he held ''honour'' so highly.

It is an inspiring message in the global fish-tank where too much of the marrow of Life is surrendered to ''professionals'' -- both over-valued and overpaid betimes.

Between the Sligo Bishop's motor car, and Paddy and John and Hal in Roscommon, and the quality of football at Finn Park in Donegal back in the day, the eyes were moist when the standing ovation ended in the Showgrounds yesterday evening.

Christy Moore has a song: ''THIS is the day the fisherman loves/So do I.....'' That feeling I'd long forgotten about amateur football and so much else.

Last week there were some harsh words here -- and meant -- about the ugliness of the modern version of the (so called) 'beautiful game.'

Spire, Worship

But then there was that famous one line John McGahern always, always quoted from Proust, the French writer.

He spoke of defending a place of worship he disliked.....because the building had a spire which, he said (or imagined!), lifted Mankind's eyes skywards ''away from the avarice of Earth.''

You see, this is NOT about football, or even war. Never! This is about taking a dream and pushing the boat out into uncertain currents. Then it sails. Like all the dreams we enjoy most.