Wicklow People (West Edition) - - SPORT -

IT’S AL­WAYS nice to get any sort of cor­re­spon­dence from some­body that has taken the time to read an article you’ve writ­ten, whether they loved it, were in­dif­fer­ent to it or they thought it was the big­gest pile of steam­ing dung that has ever been inked on to pa­per.

More of­ten than not it will be the lat­ter, and dur­ing the week I was handed a lengthy cor­re­spon­dence from a dis­grun­tled Dublin fan, who was far from en­am­oured with my lousy at­ti­tude.

My crime this time was say­ing that like most neu­trals I felt deeply sorry for Mayo after they suf­fered an­other heart­break­ing loss in the All-Ire­land fi­nal. It wasn’t my sym­pa­thy for the be­lea­guered west­ern­ers that hit a nerve, rather me hav­ing the brass neck to de­scribe my­self as any­thing even re­sem­bling a neu­tral.

When I delved fur­ther into the well con­structed and well thought out hand-writ­ten let­ter I re­alised that the deep dis­sat­is­fac­tion with yours truly was a slow-burner that was years in the mak­ing and my of­fences were some­what of a more his­tor­i­cal na­ture.

The let­ter writer made no bones about point­ing out to me I am in fact the po­lar op­po­site of a neu­tral as I had once pro­claimed that I would never sup­port the Dublin foot­ballers, un­less in the un­likely event they were play­ing North Korea, a state­ment which meant I had painted my­self into a cor­ner that there’s no way out of, ac­cus­ing me of be­ing ei­ther a liar or some­one suf­fer­ing from a se­vere dose of am­ne­sia.

I hold my hands up and ac­cept I must be suf­fer­ing from slight mem­ory loss, be­cause I didn’t ac­tu­ally re­call writ­ing that line and first thought he must be get­ting me con­fused with some other, far more opin­ion­ated scribe.

I’d be the first to ad­mit I’ve penned plenty of out­landish and corny quips in my time, but surely I couldn’t have said such a dread­ful thing?

After much search­ing through the ar­chives it turned out I had, un­der a dif­fer­ent guise way back in the depths of re­ces­sion days in the sum­mer of 2009.

It wasn’t just the coun­try that was strug­gling in those days, it might be hard to imag­ine now but the Dubs were also in the midst of an All-Ire­land drought.

Look­ing back on it now it was a throw­away, yet stupid line, and you tend to forget that these days when thoughts flow from your brain to the page you leave an on­line foot­print that’s there for­ever.

How­ever, we’re all en­ti­tled to change our tune with the pas­sage of time. As I’ve ma­tured my opin­ions have al­tered, as they’re bound to. A lot of wa­ter has flowed un­der the bridge in the in­ter­ven­ing years.

I was not long mar­ried at the time of the cheeky jibe, and now two kids, plenty of grey hairs and a few inches on the waist­line later my world view would be un­recog­nis­able from back then.

Sure didn’t Ea­mon Dun­phy once say Cris­tiano Ron­aldo was ‘a cod’ and ‘a dis­grace to the game’?

Many choose a soc­cer fran­chise across the wa­ter or vote for a cer­tain po­lit­i­cal party and stick with that for life, some glee­fully hop on to what­ever band­wagon rolls into town and oth­ers, like my­self, me­thod­i­cally mould their views over time.

I may have den­i­grated the Dublin foot­ballers in the past, more so for the pan­tomime that sur­rounded them than for the play­ers them­selves, but I can now say, hand on heart, that I ad­mire the cur­rent crop for what they’ve achieved, and most of all how they go about their busi­ness, set­ting the bar high for the other ti­tle-wannabes.

My ob­jec­tiv­ity was also called into ques­tion, but the very na­ture of a col­umn is that it’s an opin­ion piece and if you tried to be bal­anced all the time you’d end up sound­ing like you’re ar­gu­ing with your­self.

I might be many things - a grumpy old git, maybe, as change­able as the Ir­ish weather, cer­tainly, but one thing I wouldn’t con­sider my­self to be is a liar.

So when I say well done Dublin, true blue champions, I mean it, with­out hav­ing to force the words out through grit­ted teeth.

I’ve even found my­self root­ing for the Boys in Blue oc­ca­sion­ally in re­cent years when they’ve been lock­ing horns against other coun­ties which I wouldn’t have a par­tic­u­lar grá for, teams which don’t play the game in the man­ner I would con­sider to be the right way, but I’ll de­cline to men­tion them for fear of get­ting my wrists slapped yet again.

Some­times it’s nice to re­ceive sting­ing crit­i­cism as it makes you sit back and ques­tion your own opin­ions and judge­ments.

In the words of the great Bob Dy­lan, the times, and in­deed the mind­set of this colum­nist, they are a changin’.

Dublin cap­tain Stephen Clux­ton lifts the Sam Maguire Cup.

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