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.
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.
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.
the official Man of the Match Danny Browne and my own Man of the Match,
Gerard MacDermottroe, each failed to score with their penalties.
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.
two have often cotermingled over the past century, as their club chair
Paddy McLoughlin reminded us in the excellent programme for yesterday's
''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.
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.
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
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.
there was Hal, Hal Cawley, spread across two full pages in the superb
programme prepared by Purcell Print for yesterday's game.
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.
who remember the mire and slope towards the railway end in Sligo must
have thought that was pure pipedream stuff, the stuff of fiction.
hadn't Paddy cycled to school every day with one of the greatest ever
men of Irish and European fiction, the late John 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.
school photo in Carrick is now nearly seventy years old but even
without any captions you can unmistakably choose both chums, carefree.
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.''
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
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.'
But then there was that famous one line John McGahern always, always quoted from Proust, the French writer.
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.