It’s August, and we are back to a familiar scene. Our opponents were confirmed on Saturday evening after Sligo were parked up by Cork.
When Cork emerged under the leadership of Brian Cuthbert, they looked to have prowess. They had a steady league performance, and with Kerry looking at sixes and sevens in the league, it looked from early on like they were the Munster team to watch. That theory was quickly demolished after the Kingdom destroyed them in the Munster Final by 12 points. And in a flash, Cork were banished to the dreaded qualifiers. They arrived in Tullamore on Saturday for a date with Sligo. Cuthbert made six changes from their Kerry hiding and unveiled a significantly revised game plan. A game plan that is now the new wave of vogue in Gaelic Football: overpopulate the opposition’s defence and stay there. This new wave was originally designed by Jim McGuinness and now, just like tight jerseys, it’s pretty much the new black!
At times on Saturday Cork played with only one player in the opposing half of the field. This style of defensive football was used on Sligo but in reality it was being introduced for their quarter final meeting with Mayo. But they have a lot of work to do before they perfect this style. On Saturday it worked for a while, then they drifted off course and looked unsure of themselves. Colm O Neill and Paul Kerrigan, seasoned players, were their star attractions; they looked sharp and up for the challenge. O’Neill finished with 10 points and will inevitably be a handful for the Mayo full-back line on Sunday, but with Keith Higgins now firmly back there, he’ll have the measure of the rebel. With the way the game is going now, it’ll be an interesting competition for Mayo, to see how they cope with the defensive approach. Fintan Goold started from the bench but replaced debutant, 20 year old, Ian Maguire and would look to have made enough of an impression to start on Sunday. Cork are jittery though, and tend to fall away when pressure is applied.
Mayo have never had a great record against Cork in championship. Horan’s men have looked slow to get going so far, maybe they are just warming up to this stage or maybe they are beginning to tire. Sunday will tell a tale. Big performances will be needed by every Mayo player. Will Mayo counteract the defensive trap? Will they need to?
James Horan’s men have shown heart and determination when needed in their Connacht Championship, let’s hope this continues through on Sunday.
Those of you on Facebook and Twitter over the past few days will have seen us sharing various videos from the olden days of Mayo GAA, but just in case you’ve missed them, head on over to our video gallery to see (for the first time online) highlights of Mayo’s Connacht Championship of 1989, the famed Tyrone game of the same year, and the 2006 All-Ireland U21 final victory against Cork. Our most recent addition is the Galway-Mayo Connacht Final of ’99 in Tuam Stadium. Some of us are still drying out after that one.
Thanks to Ronan McHale for putting in the graft and converting these from VHS for us – a time-consuming process but one I’m sure you’ll agree was worth it. Check out our video gallery here for a wander down memory lane and keep an eye out for more videos coming soon.
Back to work/school/college and reality for 2,500 Mayo fans who travelled last week. I can only assume everyone had as good a time as I did! I was lucky enough to have travelled with Jarlath Coady, an expert in all things New York, and despite him getting us lost several times, it was useful to have him around!
It was a hell of an introduction though. First of all, the landing was terrifying and I thought we were on the way out. After I said my goodbyes, we got off the plane and hopped onto the train towards Manhattan. We had to find our hostel. 1 hour it took. 1 very long hour. And it was raining. And by raining I mean it was the 10th WETTEST DAY IN THE CITY’S HISTORY. Seriously, think about that for a second. The 10th wettest day in the history of New York City and I’m out in the feckin’ thing with my suitcase, lost! I had to empty my shoes when I got to the hostel and when we were checking in, a guy had to follow us around the lobby to mop up the trail we left.
Everything I owned was soaked. But it was alright, I hung it all up, stuffed the runners with newspaper, panned out in the bed and ate my weight in Twinkies, Zingers and Goo Goo Clusters. It was exactly as wonderful as it sounds!
Like everyone, we did all the obvious sites. No real need to expand on that. The highlight of the week for me personally was running into a man and his young son in the Bronx. I had gone a stop too far on the train and took a roundabout way to the ground and couldn’t for the life of me figure how to get in. So I spotted the two locals and asked for directions. He told me he was going that way anyways and, in a famous New York accent, said “Go Mayo, right?”. His name was Billy Costello, a second generation Irish man who grew up in New York after his father, Francis, had moved to the Bronx in the early ’50s. His knowledge of Mayo was second to none. His young son was on his way to catching the bug too as he was about to attend his first Mayo game. Billy said how unbelievably excited his father was about the game and it was then it hit me that last Sunday was about more than football. It was great meeting so many Mayo people who had made a new life in the States and even better to meet their children and grandchildren.
After going in we got to work on the flags straight away, had a burger and chips and relaxed to watch the game. Bar two very heavy showers and some strong winds, the day was fine. From a footballing point of view it was a case of job done and onto Game 2. Club ’51 had just made their Championship debut too!
Picture: Stephen Grufferty
We did our best to keep the site ticking over but data charges were through the roof so we had to rely on the odd bit of WiFi we could get our hands on.
A great week in a great city but all the same, it’s good to be back.
In the lead-up to the New York game, Anne-Marie spoke to Mike Kelly, presenter of Saturday Sports on Castlebar Community Radio about the end of Mayo’s National League Campaign, the big trip to the Big Apple and Club ’51’s Route ’51 endeavour. You can listen by clicking on the link below – interview starts at 3.30 minutes. Thanks Mike!
In preparation for our big trip to the Big Apple, New York City connoisseur and general oddball, Jarlath Coady, provides us with some guidelines for how to survive and make to most of our trip abroad.
So you’re going to New York? First bit of advice: Don’t eat the gum on subway handrails. Or anywhere else for that matter. Buy your own (said in New York accent).
New York is often described as the perfect city. Its public transportation is so efficient, it makes you think that maybe the Red Setter from Bus Eireann should be put down. If you want to shop, it’s got that. Concerts? Even a deaf person would have a great choice. Food? Only everywhere. Coffee? Starbucks on every corner. ‘Coz you might need a caffeine top-up in the 30-yard trek from one street-corner to the next.
It’s got everything that any city could have AND even has beaches. Who knew? I did. And now you do. Which may be an option since heading into May is the beginning of ‘fan oven’ season in New York. For those daunted by being NYC first-timers, it has some comparable characteristics in common with Mayo. If you like Main Street Castlebar, then you’ll love Times Square. It’s Hudson River is the absolute spit of Carrowbeg river in Westport. Its beaches just like Clew Bay.
However, one thing is very different in New York. Things do not stand still. No train or bus is ever a minute late, and don’t expect one to even stop for you if you are on Irish time of being a minute late. So with that, may I introduce you to the New York public transport. Before going over, make sure you have downloaded one of the many subway apps and try getting yourself familiar with it. The subway can be a daunting experience if you’re unfamiliar with it but is so easy to navigate once you do get used to it. Rule of thumb: you’re either going Uptown(North), Downtown(South), Manhattan-bound(West) or Queens/Brooklyn-bound(East). It might sound obvious, but know where you are and where you’re going. If you find yourself on the right train but going in the wrong direction, don’t panic. Just get off at the next stop. If the wrong direction is southbound, then just get the northbound which is often in the same underground station, or at worst across the street. Make sure that any app you do have for the subway can be used offline as any app that relies on data connection either won’t work or you will encounter your first mugging experience in the city. Data roaming charges are ridiculous in America. Before heading over, make sure you notify your network operator that you are going to America and research if there is any add-on you can buy which will allow you to use some data over there. 1MB of data can cost nearly €5. Google Maps simply tracking your location is a shocking €10 gone. If you’re disciplined enough to not obsess about needing constant Facebook access, then Starbucks will be your new best friend with its free (if somewhat slow) Wi-Fi. Also, you should notify your bank that you are going over as any debit/credit transactions may be seen as suspicious activity and your card could be frozen until you contact them anyways.
So you have your app downloaded, your Genfitt Mayo jersey on. What the hell is the next step from JFK? Again, do your research before you arrive, but if you are staying in Manhattan then it’s very easy. Get the Airtain from JFK to Howard Beach. Buy the €5 Airtrain ticket at Howard Beach and get the Manhattan-bound A or E trains which will bring you straight into Manhattan. It takes about an hour and a half so don’t be worried thinking that you’re on your way to LA. If you plan on using the subway regularly (which you will), then it would be wise to buy a 7-day unlimited metrocard for $31, even if you’re only in NYC for a few days. You’ll be using it daily a number of times. The metrocard can be bought from any of the kiosks available in all underground stations.
To distract yourself from the potential Sam decider with New York, you may have an interest in other sports. New York doesn’t do small or understated. In Ireland, the difficulty of wondering if a pub is “showing the match” is about as alien to New York as Sting. The two best sports bars in NYC are The Irish Pub between 53rd and 54th street on 7th avenue approximately a five minute walk from Times Square and Legends on W 33rd Street. These places have more TV’s than you could shake a hurley stick at and regularly show Premier League/Champions League games amongst others. It would be pointless mentioning other pubs in NYC as there are too many to mention. Looking for an Irish Pub? Here’s a tip. Open your bloody eyes. They’re everywhere. And for those new to the pub culture there, it’s customary to tip a dollar for every drink. Prices for drinks are roughly similar or slightly cheaper than cities in Ireland, depending a bit on the strength of the euro to the dollar. At the moment, the euro has strengthened over the last year from a low in 2012 and so surprisingly New York prices aren’t astronomical (clearly not talking about accommodation here). After every third drink, the bar man will give a free round. That’s the norm. For those wanting to try out some trendy bars in New York, google Overtime NYC. They often have a number of events on every week, usually with Open Vodka bars on open rooftop bars overlooking the city. Maybe the best option if you have no intentions of leaving the pub during your holiday but wouldn’t mind getting a bit of sun.
For those who aren’t going to set up camp in a bar/pub in NYC then why not do what all the tourists do. No, not get mugged. Unless you wear a bum bag, or socks in sandals. Then yes. You’re getting mugged. And it might even be me that does it. There are plenty of tourist traps in New York. There are two options for seeing really what NYC looks like. The Empire State Building and just ‘down the road’ (in Manhattan terms) ‘The Rock’ at Rockefeller Square has awesome views of the entire city including Central Park. The new World Trade Centre is looking mighty impressive and is an obvious stop for sightseeing. Plus, could people stop feeding the pigeons around WTC? THEY ARE MASSIVE.
And some are downright dangerous.
It’s near the very southern tip of Manhattan island and not too far from Wall Street. One recommendation: Statue of Liberty isn’t as impressive up-close as it is in the movies. Although, only in recent months have they opened up the oul’ hat on herself so people can look out from it. Something that’s been closed off since 9/11. 5th avenue is not too bad for the gawk but you’d be better off saving your shopping for other places. Head to Union Square for some good stores at decent prices. If you want super bargains, then Woodbury Common is the place to go. This is upstate and so is a bit of a bus journey. Tickets for the buses can be bought from Port Authority on 42nd Street and 8th avenue. The buses leave from here regularly and it’s worth the trek. Some interesting film spots might include the Ghostbusters firehouse at 14 N Moore Street or Monica’s apartment from Friends which is above The Little Owl Restaurant (just the outside obviously, don’t go harassing some elderly couple because you want to see the inside of Monica’s apartment) on the corner of Grove and Bedford Street in Greenwich Village, 90 Bedford Street to be exact. There are too many other great spots to visit in NYC but this is a blog, not a new Lord of the Rings book.
There are two types of people to be weary of when in Times Square. Those selling their homemade music CD’s and those selling tickets for stand-up comedy shows. Fine if you want to listen to a struggling hip-hop artist or want to go to a comedy show. But if you don’t, these guys will hound you if you look anywhere in their direction. So just look straight ahead and keep on walking. Do not talk to them.
If you feel like being a bit fancy, Broadway is a good experience with plenty of shows to cater for whatever taste. There are plenty of sharp, edgy plays, it isn’t just musicals that Broadway does. You can go directly to box offices of theatres. Most of the Broadway theatres are located just off Times Square in the streets from 41st to 49st Street roughly. If you’re not sure what to go see, then cut out the walking and just show up at the tkts booth situated directly below the steps on Times Square. This is open in the morning and afternoon and tickets can be discounted from 20-50%. This can be a little deceptive though as a ticket might be 50% off but could be an expensive seat as you find out the discount at the area but not the price until you get to a kiosk. Generally speaking, no matter where you sit in any of the theatres you will see the stage so don’t go buying premium seats if you don’t need to.
Finally, make sure that in getting lost in the energy of New York you don’t forget to get the plane back. Horan will be looking for you come September!
In the aftermath of a rollercoaster of a game last night against Dublin that will no doubt have us all talking for some time to come, here’s a feature on Club ’51 from yesterday’s Irish Examiner written by Ballina’s own Terry Reilly, after a chat with Anne-Marie during the week. Hopefully for those of you who’ve just recently signed up, it’ll give you some more background on what we’re about and what we want to achieve.
It’s not easy to keep the heads up when things aren’t going well, and as supporters, we are fairly put through the wringer, but the Mayo support in Croke Park last night was fantastic and we want to keep that momentum going.
We’re cooking up a plan of action for what will now be a crucial game vs. Derry next week and will be in touch during the week with an update.
Have a good week folks and keep the faith – Maigh Eo abú!