The first rule of Emergency Mayo GAA County Board Meeting is: You do not talk about Emergency Mayo GAA County Board Meeting.
The heart flutters at 11.15pm on this particular Thursday night as the doors of the Dr Michael Loftus Room fling open. The men with the shirts tucked into the trousers and the hands tucked into the pockets come darting down the stairs and into my line of view.
I seize my opportunity and approach the leader of the middle-aged stampede.
“Can I ask you a couple of questions about tonight’s meeting?” I query.
“No,” says the leader. The pack maintain their form, like pool balls placed inside a triangle. They roll onwards.
A jab to the confidence of this journalist.
“Absolutely not,” replies another delegate, when asked the same question.
A right hook. I’m wobbling.
But if you thought this level was already difficult, wait until you face the boss.
The PRO, Paul Cunnane, approaches. I ask a series of questions, but he is simply too quick, too agile.
“No,” he says. Body blow.
“No,” he replies to my next question. Uppercut.
“No,” he says again. The knockout blow. Never have I been faced with such an irresistible performance. Sometimes, you just have to hold your hands up and admit that charm will always win. When will I ever learn?
Thankfully, the saviour of the night is in sight. Chairperson Mike Connelly comes barrelling my way. Have I been stuck in this refrigerated, fluorescent-lit tunnel too long or is that really a halo around his head?
“There will be a statement later!” he proclaims. It feels like 40 days and 40 nights but, boy, does this oasis of transparency refresh the soul.
Dare I have another gulp? Dare I ask why media are excluded from county board meetings?
“Other counties are doing it!” he announces. Boy oh boy, you’ve never felt refreshment like it. Can one feel TOO satisfied after a single trip to Castlebar?
The water that gives me life is soon turned into wine. Ping. My email inbox knows something special is happening.
It’s a Mayo GAA statement.
A meeting took place tonight, they say.
A number of topics were discussed, we are told.
The Betterment of Mayo GAA is to be anticipated in 2020, they reveal.
And then it sinks in. I’ve just had a front-row seat for the Betterment of Mayo GAA. For free. For people who don’t understand the high-brow intricacies of sports journalism, getting to Witness the Betterment of Mayo GAA is basically the same as seeing the Northern Lights while getting married and witnessing the birth of your first-born all at once.
Castlebar, the Mecca for sports journalists, consider this another satisfied customer.