There is nothing to rival your child being born but the satisfaction from sporting success runs a close second. I can trace my three greatest moments of joy back to victories which I played very little or absolutely no part in but those moments will stay with me forever.
There is something special in sharing success with those you grew up with. Where I am from you are introduced to Gaelic football from the earliest moments in life.
It’s birth, baptism and Burren field to be shown off all in the same month. You grow to see the pitch as the centre of the community and you train, play, compete and develop until you can take on the best in Ireland.
In 1986 I was on the panel crowned All Ireland Senior Club champions. It was an amazing feeling. I was surrounded by friends, neighbours, relatives and teammates all proud to be from our small parish outside Warrenpoint. I thought the joy could never be matched but it was when we won the title again two years later.
Three years after the amazing club success two of my great friends from Burren, Brendan McKernan and county captain Paddy O’Rourke would go a step further and play for Down on All Ireland Final Sunday in front of 80,000. They won the Sam Maguire.
I stood as a fan in the Hogan Stand and through a sea of red and black and tears of joy I watched my neighbour lift the cup.
Down excelled again in 1994 but then gradually faded from the limelight. I might never see success again in my lifetime.
The county is now in division three and competing in a special competition for also rans. It’s depressing but it is reality. Thankfully it’s not just the GAA I depend on for my sporting highs.
Always running alongside my devotion to club and county was my unbridled admiration for Manchester City.
Since about 1970 I’ve followed their every move. The 1990s however saw the beginning of a decline and by 1999 they were battling their way back from third division obscurity.
Considering where Pep Guardiola has them today there might actually be some hope for the Down team in the future. City have given me both joy and heartache in equal measure but they also gave me that moment in 2012 when I was so excited I almost cartwheeled through my front window. Thankfully the double glazing stood up to the test as an out of control middle aged man vaulted off the sofa in a display of fitness that would have made Rhys McClenaghan look like a cart horse.
City needed to win to pip Manchester United to the league title. A draw would not be enough. They had equalised in the 90th minute and now in the 95th the Sky commentator Martin Tyler said those famous words “ Manchester City are still alive here, Ballotelli, Aguerooooooo”. I cannot account for the 20 seconds of my life that followed that goal. My daughter has explained to me that I jumped from a seated position directly onto the top of the wooden coffee table and from there I sprung forward bouncing along the top of the sofa before almost cartwheeling my way to Accident and Emergency.
I can’t afford to do anything like that again. I’d never survive another Aguero moment. On Sunday, City need to win to once again become Premier League champions. It will be a special moment if they thwart Liverpool.
I know if they are battling for it in the dying minutes I will be a nervous wreck. I’m hoping I’ll be able to control myself but I’m going to put some furniture in front of the window just in case.