The last few weeks have been an absolute whirlwind! The overwhelming joy that I felt after winning an All-Ireland final and reaching that ultimate goal that you set out to achieve the year prior in the dark month of November, is incredible. The sense of pride and happiness you feel is something I’ll never forget and I realise how fortunate I am to be one of the guys that gets the chance to experience this come the third week in September in Croke Park.
The immediate aftermath of winning an All-Ireland final is something extremely special, it is filled with visits to schools, hospitals and various social celebrations in Ireland and further afield. All of these events are a joy to attend, it allows you the space and time to appreciate the fans and the support that is behind Dublin football and the GAA in general. It is the realisation that the GAA really is at the heart of all of our communities. The joy that these visits bring to so many people’s lives really makes you appreciate your time as a Dublin Inter County footballer. You realise that one day, not too far from now you will be one of these fans making the memories for the rising stars of Dublin football.
- The first was the lap of honour where Dublin fans cheered in the pouring rain and sang ‘C’mon you Boys in Blue’ for one last time this season. Sharing this moment with the fans was extraordinary, and I feel its so important to take a second and take in the moment there and then.
- The second lasting memory was immediately after the game when the team returned to the dressing room. We danced around the 4 cups won in 2015 and sang to our hearts content sharing this surreal moment together. As to the song, Van Morrison, Days Like This.
- Personally, probably the most rewarding and memorable day was when I got to bring Sam Maguire to all the local schools in Swords. The joy that this brought to so many kids makes it all worthwhile. After all, I was that kid back in 1995 when Paul Clarke brought Sam to our school and I remember it like it was yesterday.
What goes up must come down
Since the final there has been, what feels like, a certain void in my life. The constant 24/7 preparation of being a Dublin footballer is complete for one year and you then have to transition back into the club set up and try catch up on elements of your career that have been partially sacrificed to play at the top level. There comes with it a sense of sadness or disappointment that it is all over for one more year. For me, I enjoy the journey so much that when it ends, I feel something is missing from my life. This makes the transition difficult because you plan your life around training and preparation for games and then it’s suddenly, all complete. Box ticked.
I think this feeling also translates into the work environment, for people that may be working on a big project and once its complete or the culminating event is over they can find themselves asking —where to next?
After I have taken some time out to enjoy the celebrations, I find it useful to recalibrate, start to plan again and begin a new journey or a new project. I find it valuable to reflect on the year before moving on to the next challenge. Identify what went well, what you could improve on to build on your successes/ failures going forward. Then—and this I think is important—create a plan of attack by breaking down tasks into specific actions to reach future goals.