It’s the second weekend in July and we are preparing to make history. Honestly, at this time of year, as Mayo football fans, what more can we ask? We have two teams representing us on Sunday in the provincial deciders. Our seniors attempt to win their 4th title on the trot against the auld enemy while our minors defend their crown against Roscommon. We are also aiming to see our first back to back senior/minor Connacht Double since 1996/1997. History beckons! How sweet that would be indeed, but as we always say, that’s in the lads’ hands now. And best of luck to them.
As for us, the plan remains the same. We’ll have a couple of new recruits in the form of flags with us at the match, after announcing our first and second-placed designs in our schools flag design competition. We’ve got a couple of cracking designs that we can’t wait to unveil. But we also need people to wave said flags, so please come and join us beside the media tower at the McHale Road side of the ground. Absolutely everyone is welcome and the craic is always good so come along and introduce yourselves. And bring your own flags – there’s going to be a huge crowd there so let’s make it a colourful one (a green and red one!).
We’ll be there from 11am or so setting up for our minors and we would urge absolutely everybody to come cheer on YOUR All-Ireland Champions as they take on the Rossies! They put in a hell of a shift in Tuam and the least they deserve is a good, loud support from the Mayo faithful on Sunday.
Here’s to history!
When Galway disposed of a poor Sligo outfit the weekend before last, it was Sky Sports first time showing a Gaelic football match. I was closely following the reaction on the twitter machine as the game went on. The British audience seemed nonplussed by the game, whereas the previous week they were enthralled with the hurling.
I always thought this could be the way at the outset, but I’m sure the football will improve and excite our new audiences across the water before the summer is out. Galway won the game with ease in the end and as a result of this victory; they have earned the right to face Mayo in Elverys McHale Park on Sunday 13th July where both sides will do battle for the Nestor Cup.
A Connacht Final against Galway, it does not get any bigger than that folks! The fact that Mayo are going for their 4th in a row will also be motivation for our opposition. Whenever these two teams meet in championship, more often than not there is only a kick of the ball in it. Mayo blew Galway into smidirini last year and Galway will be looking for revenge.
The Galway midfield were made to look good by Sligo, who continued to kick the ball long and straight down the middle even though it was coming back with interest. I am certain James Horan will have watched this and will instruct Robbie to take evasive action if necessary. Having said that, I feel our midfield will have enough to win that particular battle. Aidan O’Shea should be aiming to get back to last years high standards where he was touted as Footballer Of The Year going into the final, with his brother again being the unsung hero grafting away in midfield.
Our backs were magnificent against Roscommon. I lost count of the number or times we turned over possession. Tom Cunniffe and Caff were masterful. Boyler was his usual combative self. Donal Vaughan didn’t bring the shooting boots but worked hard and I’m sure Lee Keegan (for me best wing back in the game at the minute) will be back to himself the next day after a very, very rare off day.
Up front will be interesting. I wonder will James stick with the team that started or will he reward those who made such an impact against Roscommon? I’m assuming Andy is fit to play, having come on for Ballaghadereen recently and by all accounts had a great game. What I would like to see is space up front – our lads undoubtedly have the stuff to do it, it just feels at times our attacking plays can actually end up restricting the space for us to attack. Once upon a time I was a right corner forward. I had one particular teammate who told me before games that his main aim when he got the ball was to feed me, that as soon as he got on the ball I was to be moving for a pass from him. I was small enough but I thrived on knowing if I made a run then 9 times out of 10 the centre forward was looking for me. Whoever plays CHF and in the corner forward position should be sitting down hatching plans to terrorise Galway. Clarity of role and effective communication is essential.
As for us folk on the terraces and in the stands, it was noticeable the support given to the team by the Mayo supporters against Roscommon when they were three down with ten minutes to go. I’m sure the team appreciated that and more of the same will be needed on the day. We need to be the 16th man to help our boys drive on to a wonderful 4th Connacht title in a row. See you on the 13th and as always with Club ’51 the message is a simple one. BRING A FLAG AND BRING YOUR VOICE! Mayo forever!!
TrevorFollow me on Twitter: @trevornaughton
Photo: Michael Maye
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.
It feels like forever since we were last gearing up for a Championship game, and while those of us lucky enough to get to New York got a fix of sorts, it didn’t quite scratch the itch. Next weekend however sees the action beginning in earnest on home soil as Mayo travel to Hyde Park to take on Roscommon at 2pm in Dr. Hyde Park.
By all accounts the Rossies, buoyant after another strong U21 campaign are looking forward to this clash as much as we are, and they will fancy their chances of springing a surprise on their home turf. So we could have a cracker on our hands next Sunday.
Ticketing and Admission
Dr. Hyde Park as most of us know by now is not the most accessible of grounds, and a large attendance is expected next week. The Connacht Council have decided that seating will be unreserved for this fixture, meaning that if you want to get a seat in the stand, it’s first come, first served. Admission is €25 (terrace €20) with U16s paying €5. In their wisdom, they have decreed that OAPs and students must pay full price on the gate, with refunds of €10 available upon presentation of valid ID cards at turnstiles 6 & 18 (meaning that they potentially have to queue twice). For those of you travelling with large groups of children, you can enter at Turnstile 8 and avail of a decent group rate of €30 which gets you 10 x juvenile and 1 x adult ticket – we’re assuming that this is restricted to the terrace). All season ticket holders must enter the ground via the County Road Home end.
With all of the above in mind, Club ’51 have after a bit of debate decided not to hold our customary pre-match meet-up before the game next week. Rather, we are urging anyone travelling to the game to get in there early. Very, very early. If you want a seat, it’s likely you’ll need to be there at least an hour before throw-in, and if attendances at the Allianz League games this year are to be believed, it’s looking like this game could easily be a sellout. Instead, we’ll be aiming to congregate inside good and early and get the atmosphere building.
In addition to this, the curtain-raiser sees Mayo hurlers in action once again, taking on Roscommon in the Connacht Intermediate final. Throw-in for that game has yet to be confirmed but is likely to throw in around 12pm, if not sooner. The hurlers have put in a great season this year, and are deserving of good support. So we urge you to come along and shout them on (and stake your claim on a seat while you’re at it).
It’s Championship time proper now, so let’s get the colours out! If you’re coming along, we’re asking you to do one thing – BRING A FLAG. Be it a big flag, a small flag, a flag without a pole, a car flag, a sheet – just find something green and red and wave it around! It’s amazing the difference a flag display can make to the atmosphere, and we want to make the Rossies feel next Sunday like they’re playing an away game and facing into a sea of green and red. Club ’51 will have the usual flags there and if you’re planning on being there early, come and find us in the stand, join us for the craic and help us make a bit of noise.
We go again …
See you all in the Hyde as we start once again in earnest on this journey. It’s always an adventure, and it’s time to get behind the lads as they put themselves and their bodies on the line once again. Let’s start as we mean to go on this year, shout loud and proud and be the 16th man through thick and thin … Maigh Eo Abú!
PS: Another thing worth doing on the day – Autism Assistance Dogs Ireland are running a fundraising competition on Facebook – they’re asking you to take a ‘selfie’ or a group photo in your county colours, text AUTISM to 50300 to donate €4, and post the photo and text receipt on their Facebook page here. Why not!
Whether you were there or not, we think it’s safe to say that the New York game was a big event. While those of us who were lucky enough to make the trip across are still in recovery mode, talk in the county is now turning to “Step Two” in this year’s campaign on 8th June. But in the meantime, here’s how our latest guest poster Fear an Chomórtais fared over in NYC last weekend. Welcome aboard, sir!
There’s very few guarantees in this life, but but one thing you can guarantee, is that when this fair county of ours takes the football show on the road, we will most definitely enjoy ourselves! The planning for this New York trip for me started 5 years ago, having been out to Gaelic Park in ’04 and ’09, so to say I was looking forward to this trip was a massive understatement.
Getting the pleasantries out of the way and meeting a few fellow Club ’51ers at the airport, after the flight we did the minibus ride into Manhattan, after which a few of our English neighbors were much wiser on the state of Mayo football as we dismounted.
The customary Mayo flags flew out from the Irish hostelries to entice the noticeable gathering inside. You’d get an odd “go Mayo” in a strong New York accent,to which the reply came “good man yourself”. Eugene Rooney’s Irish Pub became the focal point of the weekend for us, meeting a load from home and some not far from there. Friday night we did our own thing, even gatecrashing some local collegiate alumni event in Suite 36 on W36 St between 5th and 6th avenue, indeed getting some alumni souvenirs for our efforts.
New York gets ready for the Mayo influx …
The intention was to get up early on Saturday to watch the All-Ireland U21 final, between Roscommon and Dublin, which we more than managed to do in the Old Castle Bar. A large crowd was there and I’d even hazard a guess saying 40% were shouting for the Yellowbellies. I for one wasn’t, but the conundrum was I didn’t want the Dubs to win either! The atmosphere was very relaxed all day. We did the customary sightseeing after, of course in the colours, but at this stage you could see the green and red on every street. I love the way that when away at a match like this you always get acknowledged with a nod or a “Howaya lads” while every other New Yorker has the earphones in and the blinkers on, oblivious to the craic building up all around them! Mayo brought the party to town!
The function in Connolly’s that night resembled Quinn’s or Coppers on match day, wedged and very humid. Hard to get to thebar and getting to the bathroom none better. I did think the band were a bit American to be playing Irish tunes but god bless them they played their hearts out each of the 4 times they played The Green And Red of Mayo! But the craic was good and after a while we ended up chatting to John Casey – sure all the stars were out – wasn’t Mike Finnerty holding court behind us and Willie Joe up at the bar! I was getting plenty chat over my shirt, I wore it knowing well that everyone would get a laugh out of it, who would have known that we Mayo people could warrant a laugh at a t-shirt saying “bollox of a ref”! We’ve met more than a few! Legged it back to the Irish pub about 1am, and had the pleasure of sharing a few drinks with the O’Toole brothers from Inisturk, stars of the documentary “Pride of the Parish”. We won an all Ireland there and then, pity it had to finish!
Mayo GAA fans take over the New York Subway
On to Sunday, started well and ended well! What happened in between is the stuff of legend. We met a few legends at the Irish bar; Bernie Waldron who was involved with the mayo minors in the 90’s and a crew from Ballyhaunis. The beers were flying and the craic was mighty, (already arranged the return leg at the Hyde!). The story of the weekend was the lads got into a taxi, Johnny Devaney from Ballyhaunis hopped in the front, asked the cab driver “Where are you from” he answered “Egypt” without a missed breath Johnny replied “and do you walk like an Egyptian?” well when we heard that I split my sides laughing!
We got the subway out to the match – not before stopping off at the Playwright to see if Nicky Joyce was tending bar – he wasn’t – so we moved on. We had a singsong all the way out, cameras were taking pictures and videos, the Yanks didn’t have a clue what was going on but surprise surprise they wanted pictures of us all, and we duly obliged. The Punch Bowl just before Gaelic park provided a comforting pit stop but the one toilet proved torture!
Mayo supporters party in Gaelic Park
The carnival atmosphere at the pitch I’ve experienced before, but you don’t get tired of it. Seriously though, you will not understand it until you’ve experienced it. Met friends who came down from Philadelphia and from Boston – was hard to meet everyone. As for the game, it was hard to see, we couldn’t get a seat so soldiered out a place at the fence. If this was a Premier League match, a “very professional performance” phrase would be used. It’s not the Premier League, but it was a very workmanlike outing. Truth be told it’s a routine fixture, the exiles never expected to get close and they didn’t. The party after was worth coming for! Having read the Sunday Independent and Colm O’ Rourke’s article, it’s plain to be seen that the New York trip was enjoyed by more than just the Mayo diaspora! It felt like a celebration.
I had a chat with Kildare legend Johnny Doyle, what an absolute gent. He was supremely jealous that Kildare and the likes couldn’t be involved in something like this. His opinion on the championship is that it’s the Dubs to lose, but Mayo the only team to challenge them! On Sunday night, it was back to the Oldcastle after Gaelic park, the $30 donation at the door a tad steep but knowing that it was for the players fund it was worth paying. The party atmosphere followed into Manhattan from the Bronx, but already the focus had switched to the Rossies in June.
While I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed every second of this trip Stateside, it’s the start of hopefully a long summer, one which rights a few wrongs over the last few years,and come June 8th be it the Yellowbellies or Lovely Leitrim, we will show up in force like we did in New York and push this team forward.
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.
See you all for Game 2!