It’s The Hope That Kills You

FAI Cup: Game 3&4

Finn Harps 3-3 Dundalk

Dundalk 3-1 Finn Harps (AET)

It’s been a busy few days hasn’t it? Friday night felt like a brand new, fresh type of low in a season of lows. To have been in complete control of the game, to have a two goal advantage, to be playing against 10 men. There was a little hope sneaking in there. Two goals later? Deflation. Familiar deflation.

Hope. I won’t lie, when we were winning in Ballybofey I thought this was a turning point. We played well, we looked dangerous, I thought we could carry that form into our next league game. That hope disappeared and the reality punched me on the nose.

In the days that followed? Just your regular few days in the world of Dundalk FC. Shane Keegan outlining problems with the medical department and highlighting how he knew we were going to have issues with the goalkeepers at the club. A supporters club meeting that was on the brink of being torpedoed by the owners. ANOTHER covid outbreak. And then the replay with Finn Harps. Oh and constant rumours about potential buyers for the club. Did I miss anything? It’s hard to keep up.

In the mean time, when all that was happening, I started watching Ted Lasso. I had put it off for a really long time but for some reason I decided I’d give it a go over the weekend.

I can imagine that watching Ted Lasso after going through, or potentially going through or having just gone through a divorce or break up might be difficult. There might be scenes or moments that are very real to you or might strike a chord with you. But I promise you, it’s so much harder to watch that show when the fictional shambolic TV show football club is in better nick than your own real football club.

Ted plasters the word ‘Believe’ in the dressing room, he is a relentless beacon of positivity, he loves every single one of his players and the owners of the club. And journalists!

It lifted my spirits, it cheered me up, it made me emotional about a fictional football team and their exploits. Then I remembered the real football team. I remembered the worry and dread that I felt ahead of last night’s cup replay. I remembered how concerned I was for everyone if we went a goal down early in the game. The atmosphere would turn and things could get nasty. This isn’t a TV show after all.

Lo and behold. We went behind early. Our makeshift defence split apart and the dread rose in me again. But then, like it was a scene from Ted Lasso, the shed, in unison just started singing. The whole idea that I had about what would happen if we went behind? I couldn’t have been more wrong. The Shed lifted the team. Lifted everyone and in what could have been the darkest of nights there was light.

Things turned around. Heroic efforts from everyone on the pitch. Goals from Murray, Hoban and Duffy. No collapse in the final minutes, hope had been restored. Hey, if they can put this performance in, why can’t they beat Sligo on Friday? Where have I heard that before? But that’s what a performance like that does, it makes you see the positive, it makes you believe again.

I went to bed last night fully aware of the madness happening at the club, fully aware of the hardships that lay ahead. I felt like maybe, just maybe those players can get us out of this. Maybe we did turn a corner.

This morning? Reality. Michael Duffy to Derry all but confirmed by ‘sources’. A very painful reminder of where we are. It’s the hope that kills you.

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