Documentary on One

Desperately Seeking Sam

The Sam Maguire trophy is Gaelic football's Holy Grail - We follow a fan's journey through the championship of 2011 - a campaign that threw up more twists and turns than a Hitchcock thriller.

Desperately Seeking Sam

Paddy Joe Burke
Paddy Joe Burke

John Scally, a Roscommon native, is the man who decided to follow the championship fan's journey of 2011.

And here's why -

'I attended my first Roscommon match with my father when I was four. A lifelong romance was born. Down the years I have witnessed the importance of the county team to the fans. Football provided an escape from our problems and anxieties. It allowed us to dream of better days to come. Success, albeit at a very modest level, such as winning the Connacht Championship increased our self-esteem. We walked that little bit taller, we talked just a little more boldly, and we wore our primrose and blue paper caps with pride.

'Like so many GAA fans football was the battery that drove my imaginative life and dared me to see Roscommon in a very different light. In my head Roscommon won an All-Ireland everyday. Every evening as I milked the cows I entertained myself (though not the cows!) with my abysmal impersonation of Michael O'Hehir. I was always the youngest boy ever to to play in an All-Ireland final and in every match our opponents, usually Kerry, were confronted by a a dynamic duo, my all-time hero Dermot Earley and I. We would set up scores for each other. The only issue at stake was the size of our win. The more milk the cows had the bigger was the margin of our victory.

'As you got older you start to appreciate the real power of Gaelic games: the sense of togetherness and community and the importance of the fans, who are the DNA of the GAA. The programme is a tribute to them.

'This year I followed the Rossies through the Championship in the company of the county's best known barber and Roscommon fan, Paddy Joe Burke, who is the man who coined the phrase 'the Rossies'. The journey began in May in New York, progressed on to a wet June Sunday in Carrick-on-Shannon against Leitrim, continued on an even wetter day in July against Mayo for the Connacht final before coming to a disappointing end against Tyrone in Croke Park on the August bank holiday weekend. I have known Paddy Joe since I was 12 but watching the games with him was a unique experience given his passion for the Rossies.

'Paddy Joe is a micrcosm of GAA fans across the country who each May begin with hope and dreams. They follow their teams through thick and thin, through moments of elation and often bitter heartbreak. Ultimately most will taste the bitter bile of defeat and only a tiny minority will arrive in triumph at the Promised Land on a Sunday in September. This is their story.'

Produced by John Scally

Production Supervision by Ciaran Cassidy

First broadcast on RTÉ Radio 1 on Saturday 1st October 2011 @ 6pm

An Irish radio documentary from RTÉ Radio 1, Ireland - Documentary on One - the home of Irish radio documentaries.

Documentary maker: John Scally

John Scally

More Information

If you have an Idea?

If you want to suggest a subject or you want to make a documentary? Let us know