The Croke Park Experience
11 June 2012
THE CROKE PARK EXPERIENCE 10th April 2012
Dear Diary, I am totally exhausted. I can hardly put pen to paper but I have to write my diary entry for today because I don’t want to forget a second. I will treasure today’s memory forever because it was simply the best day of my life.
Dad woke me, he pulled the curtains and the sun shone bright into my bedroom. I jumped up so excited because I had been waiting for this day for weeks, ever since I received the letter from the Armagh County Board congratulating me on being one of the two boys selected by my football club to represent them in the Croke Park Activity Day.
I could see how proud and excited my parents were with dad advising me to make today count and make the best of this fabulous opportunity, and mum fussing around getting my lunch ready and setting out my Maghery skip. My brothers and wee sister were happy too as they were going to get a day out in Dublin watching me.
On the bus down I set with Oisin, my best friend who was the second boy from our club to be chosen so not only was I having this fantastic privilege of playing in Croke Park but I was also sharing this amazing experience with my best mate. When we arrived in Dublin, we had our lunch. I could hardly eat mine with the butterflies in my stomach and judging by the amount of sandwiches left over, I guess every boy felt the same.
First of all we had a tour of Croke Park and then visited the museum, now normally the word museum would scream boring, but not this one! I loved learning about the history of Croke Park, The GAA and Armagh County Football. Sitting in the changing rooms getting ready to run out onto the pitch was the weirdest feeling. I was so happy and excited but also very nervous. I wondered to myself how our club’s county player Aidan Forker had felt a few weeks previous to this, when he had to leave the same changing rooms to go out and represent Armagh against current All Ireland Champions Dublin.
My hand were sweating and my heart felt as if it was going to burst out of my chest! I was glad Oisin was with me. Running onto the pitch I imagined I was running out to a packed stadium and I was about to play for my county in an all-Ireland final, because today was just as important to me as that. I wanted to play my best and make my parents proud and “wee Eamy” my football coach to whom I owe this great honour and will be eternally grateful for. All butterfly’s and nerves were gone with the first kick of the ball.
I was so glad to finally get into the action of the game after such an overwhelming build up. Instinct took over and I found myself in the middle of play conscious of the blue and yellow jersey on my back. What an honour and a dream come true playing gaelic football on the hallowed turf of Croke Park in my Maghery colours. What could top this? Over the courses of the go games I was lucky enough to score 1 goal and 5 points-top that Aidan!! When I scored the goal all I could think about was the goal I’ve watched so many times on TV- Oisin McConvilles goal in the 2002 All Ireland Final. Today, it was my turn.
As I left the pitch I took a few blades of grass in my hand and promised myself that I will return someday again wearing my blue and yellow colours proudly as the Sean MacDermotts of Maghery win the all-Ireland club final. I also wish to someday represent my county at GAA headquarters making all my dreams come true. Going home all the boys shared their experience of playing on the best pitch, not only in Ireland but in the world. I’m lying in bed now with today’s memories not only captured by the words in this diary, but forever etched in my mind and in my heart. Dear Diary THIS was the best day of my life…….. [So far!]
BY ORAN MCANDREW
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Go games in Croke Park