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The summertime is coming and bringing with  it memories of summer sights and sounds from days of my youth.

It will bring  back memories of new-mown meadows and the oul’ fella looking  across at Nephin and muttering to himself more in hope than anything else, “Ah, ‘twill be alright, them’s only wisps of sea fog  We’ll chance it.”

Memories of my mother, shaking her head but holding her peace and taking out the bread knife to build mountains of batch loaf sandwiches with shop butter and thick cuts of hairy bacon and lumps of Calvita cheese.

The ganger turing around to her and saying, “Well…? Sure isn’t Peteen’s going and so is Martin Doheny.” A mixture of childish petulance and adult autocracy here.

The road from Charlestown to Castlebar was always riddled with potholes back then and my bum got to know and anticipate every last one of them as I and my brothers were squashed into the back seat of the oul’ Morris Minor with its dodgy suspensions and the ever-present smell of stale sweat and fresh calf nuts.

The trips to Tuam or the Hyde brought an extra tinge of excitement but more aches and pains the following morning as the poor posterior had more bumps and jolts to contend with.

I have no lasting memories of any games I went to back in those days, except maybe for the time John Morley let a roar out of him that would start off a jackass in Swinford- well, that’s what my dad said and I always accepted his word for everything- back in them days anyway.

With that, Morley took off after Pateen Donnellan, who also took off- in the direction of the endline, where he lepped the barrier and dived into the crowd behind it.

The craic was mighty for a good five minutes then alright, what with the Galways trying to hold off the Mayos trying to get in at him, if you can follow me.

God, I was fierce disappointed when the ref managed to get things calmed down and got on with the game as if nothing had happened.

Back then, I took it as an article of faith that every Mayo player was blind, thick or sometimes both and every ref seemed to have a parentage issue. There was always total agreement on this as men gathered outside the church gate after mass to make plans or as they hurried in droves into the ground.

No doubt abut it, every last ladeen on the team was so stupid he wouldn’t know the Reek if he was standing on top of it!

Of course it sometimes happened that the same critics underwent a collective memory lapse and little buckeens turned into mighty young fellas before their eyes.

Doom and gloom morphed into boom and bloom without a bother and preparations for the next game were being made on the fly.

Those rare changes of the tune meant a big difference for me. It meant the difference between my father reaching into his breast pocket for his wallet after the game and his fumbling in a trouser pocket for loose change.

There was one helluva difference between a ten bob note and a half crown.

Old neighbours and keen rivals, Mayo vs Galway games are always hard-fought events.

Going to the Game

Memories of new-mown hay left  lying in the field while rain clouds gather on Nephin Mountain and trips to GAA matches in an old Morris Minor car; James Moran reminisces.

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