Updated: 05/02/18 : 05:33:19
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Sligo GAA forgets ‘happy birthday’ to Markievicz

By Eugene McGloin
Political Editor

MARKIEVICZ PARK in Sligo was not the place to be on yesterday’s crispy cold Sunday.

Not unless you wanted your ears warmed with appeals for funding of the new ‘centre of excellence.’

Meanwhile, out on the field some of the football was fifth-rate stuff. Yep.

The man coming out of the ground said it best: “Sligo would not have beaten any other team today.” Certainly not in Connacht. 

The ‘excellence’ wherever it is stored was in short ration this February day.

Not the only thing in short supply at the GAA grounds either.

Short Tribute

Government Ministers and others gave up their Sunday to honour the 150th birthday of Madame Markievicz.

It seemed reasonable to expect there might be a brief tribute over the tannoy or in the match programme or a band might march at Markievicz Park in Sligo. No.

Instead we got seventy seven minutes plus out on the field of two stuttering teams.

Neither impressed and on this evidence neither might be in Division Three next year. Neither might deserve to be.

Sure Sligo won and were on the attack at the final whistle, but.....

But so often during the game — no, too often — Sligo surrendered control of the game to the most average Wexford football display of recent times.

Sligo failed to be inspired by a superb placed free by Adrian Marren in the first half.

The game was in its 13th minute before Wexford even registered its first score.

Yet Sligo surrendered the initiative and a succession of scores by Wexford meant Sligo led by just 1-6 to 0-6 at the interval.

Indeed, Sligo struggled to lead by more than a single score at half time and again at the end of seventy minutes.

There was still only a single score, 1-16 to 1-13, when it was all over in Sligo yesterday.

Amateur Players

What might seem on paper to have been a close contest was due to mediocrity, not Magic. 

‘Excellence,’ yesterday anyway, seemed as far away as those Atlantic-bound jets streaming the clear sky five miles above Markievicz Park.

True there was a handful of passable performances and yes these are all amateur players, both sides.

Paying Spectator

But only Stephen Coen among the Sligo squad shone for this paying spectator for all his time on the pitch.

Over sixty years have passed since the GAA Park in Sligo named after Madame Markievicz was officially opened.

Wexford were on the field that day, too, some of the greatest names and families who ever played the national game, hurling.

One hundred words would have well done the job of honour and ‘happy birthday’ at Markievicz Park yesterday. The wait was in vain.

Madame Markievicz’s birth is marked in low-key contrast to the 150th of WB Yeats, in whose slipstream her name is often (unfairly) trailed, a mix of patronising and patriarchy.

Madame Markievicz has earned the right, in several spheres, to be (proudly) remembered should Yeats have never written ONE line about her.

Nominally, her great achievement but not her only one is to be the first ever woman elected to the British Parliament, in 1918.

Only five years earlier a horse owned by the King of England had trampled to death a woman campaigner.

The deceased had campaigned for the rights of women to vote in elections to that same Parliament.

Big Contradiction

Irony of irony, that place was known as the ‘Mother’ of parliaments. Names are sometimes like that, a big contradiction.

Much like Wexford teams in hurling and football being  nicknamed ‘The Yellowbellies.’ 

Such a name tells you nothing of a great county in history or a decent people today, one of my favorites in Ireland.

It was fitting that Wexford were back again, footballers this time, to play in Markievicz Park on the day of her 150th birth anniversary.

The epithet of ‘Yellow Belly’ also describes those who tried to stop women having rightful, equal representation.

Dead Rats

Dead rats were thrown at those campaigners for womens rIght to vote.

They were stoned during rallies and in their hunger strikes, just one hundred years ago, they were force-fed.

After a fashion, Markievicz was stoned in Sligo on the night she was made a Freeman of the Borough.

On fashion itself, Markievicz once publicly advised women about dress and boots and added “buy a revolver.”

Yesterday, we would have settled for a singalong verse of “Annie Get Your Gun.”

Postscript: The colours in the Wexford flag up on the main standard yesterday looked, eh, interesting.