Defeat is a bitter pill to swallow and nothing can make it sweeter. The Senior hurlers of my club, Killeagh, tasted it yesterday, and all the more difficult to take because it was at the hands of our near neighbours, Youghal. The Roscommon footballers, favourites against Sligo in the Connacht Championship, also tasted defeat yesterday, as did the Cork camogie team and the Irish women’s hockey team, along with thousands of other sportspeople all across the globe.
One of the beauties of sport, however, is that you cannot wallow in defeat for too long, because there’s always another game. Killeagh will play in the Junior A hurling championship this evening, and the Seniors will have another chance to stave off the threat of relegation against Carrigtwohill in a few weeks’ time. Roscommon must pick themselves up and be ready for the qualifiers. The Cork camogie team play a round-robin championship in the early rounds, and are out again next weekend knowing that yesterday’s defeat makes a win in the next game even more important.
None of the GAA teams mentioned here experienced a season-ending defeat yesterday, but even when that comes, there’s still always another game, always another year ahead. The off-season is short, and it’s not long before teams are back in training and planning for the year ahead. All-Ireland Championship draws are made in October, County Championship draws in early December, and then it all begins again.
That’s why the words of Maya Angelou must always be in our minds:
You may experience many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.
There’s always another game.