Life

Lynette Fay: 'Tír Eoghain Abú' on All Ireland Sunday

All Ireland Sunday is one of my favourite days of the year, regardless who is in the final. When your own county is in the final, well, that's another story...

Tyrone players celebrate after their All Ireland win against Kerry in 2008. Picture by Colm O'Reilly
Lynette Fay

THE scramble for tickets is almost over, my social media timelines are white and red and my inbox is over-flowing with new Tyrone songs that have been composed ahead of the final.

It’s hard to believe that 10 years have passed since the county has experienced these dizzy heights. A new, younger generation now has the opportunity to savour this experience.

Each All Ireland final experience has been completely different. In 1986, I was too young to really know what was going on – but I remember the disappointment.

1995 was heart-breaking. Just in case you haven’t been reminded about it this week, we lost to Dublin that day by a single point – THAT point.

We should have won and even though we have beaten the Dubs in the Championship since, on our way to winning the Sam Maguire, it still feels like we really owe them one.

Will tomorrow be the day we finally serve up revenge? I hope so.

We are the underdogs, with very few outside the county giving us a chance. It’s been like that before for Tyrone v Dublin Championship matches.

2005, the year of Mugsy and his lightening goals. 2008 was the year of the beards. I remember travelling to Croke Park for the quarter final. The rain was coming down in sheets, the odds stacked against us. We parked where we could and ended up in Gills before the match.

Three Tyrone women walked into a Dublin pub to the roars of "you’ll regret making that journey in that rain" – it was banter, but it was intimidating too.

Even more intimidating was the fact that there were only small pockets of Tyrone fans in Croke Park that day, which turned out to be all the sweeter.

When Joe McMahon stuck the ball in the back of the net, we knew that the game was for the taking.

The 2008 All Ireland win was epic. Like most, I never believed that I would see one All Ireland win in my lifetime, never mind three.

I watched the 2008 final on a small TV in the courtyard of the Croke Park Hotel. I had arranged an outside broadcast of An Domhnach Mór, a radio show I presented for a few years during the GAA Championship.

It was tight, but I knew that Tyrone would win that day.

We went live on air at 6pm. The atmosphere was electric. We had so many GAA personalities on the show that day, but Philomena Begley made an appearance and the crowd went wild.

Every second of those experiences is a cherished memory.

As Tyrone fans, we have now become accustomed winning Ulster titles, to travelling to Croke Park in August and September each year.

We have to thank the management and players for all their hard work and sacrifice and for giving us all those days in the sun.

Last year’s semi-final defeat to Dublin looms large in recent memory. We were beaten well that day. But for me, that was a special day.

My uncle John had been diagnosed with terminal cancer a couple of months before that. Instead of travelling to Dublin, we got together as a family and watched the match. We laughed through the disappointment of the result.

Uncle John loved Tyrone and enjoyed the Championship matches immensely. He passed away in January this year.

So much has happened in 10 years since our last All Ireland final apprearance.

This week has been a week of re-connections – with school friends, life-long friends and family. It’s lovely to see the wee ones enjoying all the excitement.

I presented a radio show in Tomneys in The Moy on Wednesday evening which celebrated everything that’s good about the county: tune in to RTÉ Radio 1 tonight at 8pm to hear what you missed.

Philomena, Malachi, Barry Kirwan, Niall Hanna, Rachael McGarrity and The Blackwater Céilí Band provided the tunes and songs and all the footballers of the Red Hand County were well represented too.

The Ladies footballers are in an All Ireland final in two weeks time as well.

Tomorrow is the big day. Good luck to the players and management. Let’s hope that there’ll not be a cow milked or a child washed from Derrytresk to Aghyaran for at least a week.

Tír Eoghain Abú.

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