Yesterday was the All Ireland Football Semi Final between Mayo and Kerry and, inevitably it involved a revisit to the House of Pain that is the lot of a Mayo supporter (see entry Final Whistle. Cue deep existential despair). Mayo seem genetically incapable of doing things the easy way.
There must have been tens of thousands of words written about this game in the preceding week, with most of the experts tipping Mayo to win by a point or two, including it seemed North Korea's Defence Commission. There was a headline earlier in the week 'North Korea launches verbal attack on Kerry' and I thought who would have guessed that the world's most secret country had a passion for Gaelic football and supported the nearly men of the sport. Alas, it was not so - it was actually a tirade against US Secretary of State, John Kerry, who they described as a wolf in sheep's clothing with a hideous lantern jaw'. But I am expecting something from the North Korean politburo concerning Mayo's use of the sweeper system.
I settled down to watch the match at the hostel via my laptop, with Mark from San Antonio, who is interested in gaelic games. I'd barely explained that Kerry were in blue and Mayo in red, when Kerry were a point up. Obviously they'd come to do a job and hadn't read the pundits.
The first half was end to end, nip and tuck but Kerry always seemed to have a little extra about them. Goal chances came and went but the real turning point was the sending off of Mayo's Lee Keegan for a deliberate kick on Johnny Buckley. It was something and nothing - think David Beckham's petulance against Diego Simeone during the 1998 world cup, and you'll have an idea of what it was like. But the ref saw a foul and off he went. It was only a minute to half time.
Mayo ended the half one man down and 0-5 to 0-9 in arrears. Mayo hadn't played well and Kerry didn't need to.
Ten minutes into the second half it was all square. Mayo came out like a team knowing they had 35 minutes to save their season - they were first to kick outs, first to the second ball and simply ran hard and direct at the Kerry defence in order to get into scoring positions. In the 58 minute Mayo were awarded a penalty and the laptop crashed.
It took five minutes to get back to the live game and to find out that Mayo had scored from the penalty spot, and led the game for the first time, Kerry still had enough to snap to harry the Mayo backs - when they had the ball. In the 65 minute, Hawkeye was called into action to confirm a Mayo point. Five minutes to go and Mayo were leading 1-16 to 0-15. They simply had to hold on and not do anything rash.
With three minutes left and Mayo leaving space in their backs, Kerry grab the goal that leaves them just a point adrift. There are three minutes of extra time to play and the game is levelled in the 72 minute. The replay, rather bizarrely is to be held in Limerick, in the heart of county Munster, so its essentially a home game for Kerry; arguably all the sweeter when Mayo win.
There's no doubt that it was a great game and a draw was probably a fair result, but Mayo, oh Mayo... you are heartbreakers.