2016 Mayo GAA Convention Held in McWilliam Park Hotel
The 2016 Mayo GAA convention was held in the McWilliam Park hotel in Claremorris on Sunday the 4th of December. One of the most notable points highlighted at convention was the cost of running Mayo GAA in 2016. A whopping €1.6 million was spent running all the Mayo GAA teams, nearly double the figure for 2015. It is also noted however that income from various sources increased 44% on last year. Mayo GAA’s income for 2016 stood at €3,076,988 and total expenditure was €2,989,659, recording a surplus of €87,329 for the year, downs slightly from last year’s €94,979.
The large increase in expenses for 2016 was very much to be expected, due to the huge success of our teams this year. The seniors reached the All Ireland final which had to go to a replay. Our U-21’s won the All Ireland down in Ennis last April. Our Junior team also reached an All Ireland but sadly lost. And our minor footballers reached an All Ireland quarter final. Our hurlers reached the Nicky Rackard cup final also and our U-21 hurlers contested the B hurling final. All in all, a pretty successful year for Mayo GAA which would be the envy of many a county!
Sportsgear & Equipment
On Sunday, we will take part in our 6th successive All-Ireland Football Semi-Final. That is truly remarkable, especially when you consider the last season we didn’t make the last 4. That year was 2010 after we lost to Sligo and Longford within a couple of weeks to put an end to a pretty awful campaign. I don’t think anybody leaving Pearse Park that day believed 6 consecutive semi-finals was even remotely possible, but here we are.
This time, we are looking forward to a match-up with Tipperary. This is one of the rarest pairings in Championship history. In fact, we have only played them 3 times: 2002, 1922 and 1919. And while our history with them is a relatively small one, it is not to say it isn’t a remarkable one. With 2002 being a relatively recent encounter, it’s easy to remember what went down. For information on the 1919 and 1922 games I had to dust down the old research hat from my college days. I ventured to the Castlebar Library and delved into their fantastic microfilm collections of both the Mayo News and the Connaught Telegraph. To compliment this, I had another read of James Laffey’s absolutely fantastic The Road to ’51. The research that went into his work must have been immense and it resulted in a most wonderful story of Mayo football through the ages. I’d recommend it to not only Mayo fans, but historians and Irish history enthusiasts also. If you take anything from this post, let it be that you go and get a copy of this book.
The last time we met Tipp was in the in the 2002 Championship. It was a 4th Round Qualifier and it took place in Cusack Park, Ennis. 2002 was the closest Tipp have come to a Munster title in many a year, bringing Cork to a replay after finishing level in Thurles. Cork ran out comfortable winners in the replay in Pairc Ui Caoimh, winning by a margin of 1-23 to 0-7. That condemned Tipp to a showdown with ourselves just 7 days later. We had just overcome the Rossies and Limerick in the qualifiers in Castlebar and Hyde Park respectively after Galway had knocked us out of Connacht. I didn’t make the journey to the Tipp game myself, for reasons that I can’t remember, but I do remember sitting in the living room at home listening to it on the radio with my brother. I can’t quite remember what station it was, but it wasn’t Mid West, because some madman was commentating. It was great craic listening to it and, fortunately, we ran out 0-21 to 1-14 winners. We went on to lose to Cork in the Quarter Final by 1-16 to 1-10, but, if memory serves, that was an even more comfortable win for the Rebels than the scoreline may suggest. There are some snaps of our game v Tipp here.
The team and scorers that day can be found on the excellent MayoGaaBlog results archive here.
P Burke; K Mortimer, D Heaney, P Coyne; N Connelly, A Roche, A Higgins; D Tiernan, D Brady (0-4); C McManamon (0-1), T Mortimer (0-2), J Gill (0-1, free); S Carolan (0-3), B Maloney (0-1), J Horan (0-5, three frees). Subs: J Nallen for Roche (inj 38 mins); C McDonald (0-4, two frees) for Gill (41 mins); M McNicholas for Tiernan (58 mins); R Connelly (64 mins) for K Mortimer S Fitzmaurice for McManamon (68 mins).
On the comments section on our Facebook page, Mike Gallagher shared this brilliant footage with us.
You have to venture back another few years for our next nearest clash with the men from Munster. 80 years, in fact, where we took them in in the 1920 All-Ireland Football Semi-Final. If the maths don’t seem to quite add up there, it’s because they don’t. We played out our 1920 All-Ireland Semi-Final in May 1922. It wasn’t uncommon for the Championship to get backed up like that back in the day, and it’s easy to understand why considering the War of Independence was ongoing. Mayo won Connacht in 1920 after beating Sligo in the final by 2-3 to 1-4 in Castlerea in front of just 2,000 people. That game took place on 22nd August 1920, while Tipp’s journey through Munster was much more fragmented. They played Clare in a Quarter Final in June 1920. That game ended in a draw and the replay was played in the following August. The semi-final and final, against Waterford and Kerry respectively, took place in February and April 1922. Both Ulster and Leinster were played out by August 1920 where Cavan and Dublin emerged, and they took each other on in the All-Ireland Semi-Final in September 1920. Dublin had to wait until our Semi-Final Clash with Tipp in 1922.
Mayo lost the game by 1-5 to 1-0 in front of a Croke Park crowd of 13,000-14,0000 according to estimates published in the Connaught Telegraph on 13/05/1922. The Mayo News (18/05/1922) put that estimate between 15,000 and 17,000. Either way, it was, at the time, a hell of a journey for Mayo and Tipp fans alike. The two papers published a near identical match report, in which they bemoaned Mayo’s incapability in front of goal throughout the game. There was only a single point scored in the second half, by Tipp, in a game that was marred by a number of stoppages and a strong breeze which blew towards the “Cloniffe goal”, where Hill ’16 stands today. That was all she wrote for our 1920 Championship campaign. Tipperary went on to win the Championship, beating Dublin in the final in their first meeting after the Bloody Sunday massacre on 21 November 1920. It was rumoured that Dublin were caught cold by a battle hardened Tipperary team, as Dublin were unhappy at the gap of 2 years between their semi-final and their final. And Tomas O’Se reckons Kerry have it hard waiting a few weeks. The cheek!
You only have to go back a couple more years to get to our next encounter but, of course, it’s not as straight forward as that! The year is 1919. The Championship is 1918. Again, it’s the semi-final stage. Tipp were Munster Champions for the first time since 1904 (eh, that is to say, the 1902 Munster Championship). My head hurts typing this, but alas I’ll truck on! We had beaten Galway in the Connacht Final at some stage in 1918, and we took on Tipp in mid-January 1919. It’s hard to fathom an All-Ireland Semi-Final in the depths of January, but these were strange times indeed, and it seemed that playing and finishing a Championship in that Championship’s year was incredibly rare! James Laffey mentions that the 1918 Championship was largely fragmented by the outbreak of a deadly flu in Ireland, the now infamous “Spanish Flu” epidemic that ravaged the country. Sadly, it claimed hundreds of victims in Mayo and more across the country.
The Connaught Telegraph (18/01/1919) reported that the game took place in front of “several thousand spectators”. The Mayo News estimated that the crowd was in and around the 4,000 mark. It was reported that both teams we understrength and that, while the football wasn’t the most attractive, the contest itself was a good one. We lost this one by a single, last-minute point. The final score 2-2 to 1-4 in Tipp’s favour. There’s no shame in a defeat like that, considering the County Board were actually uncertain as to whether they could field a team in the days leading up to the game.
But the drama didn’t end there! In the same issue of The Mayo News (18/01/1919), there was a strongly worded letter that was addressed to the editor of the Irish Independent.
Sir, – On behalf of the Mayo football team, I wish to protest against the partiality displayed by the referee towards Tipperary in Sunday’s match at Croke Park. It was evident from the start of the game that his sympathies were with Tipperary, as was shown time and again by the storm of protest from neutral spectators with regards to his decisions. I now wish to issue, through the medium of your columns, a challenge to Tipperary to meet Mayo again, at a time and place to be fixed by the Central Council for any charitable object to be decided by the Central Council, preferably for the dependants of the Irish interned prisoners. For a fair, honourable and impartial referee, may I suggest the name Mr. Dunphy, Abbeyleix.
Secretary, Mayo County Board; G.A.A., Fleming’s Hotel, Gardiner’s Place, Dublin.
I’ll bet any money that that ref was from Meath.
It doesn’t look as if Tipp took the bait on this one, because we assume they knew they were wrong and were, frankly, just too scared to take us on in a replay that we would have inevitably won. Add that to Galway’s theft of our All-Ireland title in 1925, that brings our real tally to 5.
We were also due to play them in 1922 for the 1921 All-Ireland Championship Semi-Final, but we received a walk-over, as tensions were high during the Civil War. Mayo actually agreed to reschedule the fixture after Tipperary had withdrawn, but a few days before the new date, Tipp had to, once again, concede the fixture. In the leadup to that game, we claimed the Connacht title by beating Roscommon by 0-24 to 0-1 in the first round, Galway in the semi-final and overcoming the Rossies in the final. Go ahead, read that again. Yep, we beat Roscommon twice in Connacht that year, and nobody seems to really know why! We lost the All-Ireland Final well that year to Dublin on a scoreline of 1-9 to 0-2.
Pic: Taken from James Laffey’s Road to 51. As outlined in the original caption, it is unclear as to why we were wearing Green and White jersies, but I’d love to get my hands on one of these. The picture is just too faint to make out the crest design, too. But this is a great image of a Mayo team from a very turbulent time in Mayo, and Irish, history.
So that is the extent of our history with Tipperary in Championship football. Most of it was nestled in the period 1918 to 1922, which was, easily, modern Ireland’s most turbulent period, suffering a flu outbreak, a War of Independence and a bloody Civil War, which led to the scheduling maze that I outlined above.
In summary, our history with Tipperary in the Championship:
- 1918 All-Ireland Semi-Final, played in January 1919. Lost 2-2 to 1-4
- 1920 All-Ireland Semi-Final, played in May 1922. Lost 1-5 to 1-0
- 1921 All-Ireland Semi-Final, scheduled to be played in April 1922. Mayo receive walkover
- 2002 All-Ireland Football Championship Qualifiers, Round 4, played in December 2004. Won 0-21 to 1-14 (of course, this game was played on time, but it would have been mad if this really happened!)
So, it’s quite clear, we owe Tipp, big time, for that horrible injustice in 1919! That’s the real one that got away. No prizes for guessing what match report will be stuck up in our dressing room wall this Sunday.
Our Championship history with Tyrone is brief. In fact, our first ever meeting in the Championship was in that famous day in 1989. And there’s good news: They’ve never beaten us in the All-Ireland series!
1989 – All Ireland Semi-Final
Our first ever meeting in the Championship came in August 1989. It was 38 years after our last All-Ireland Final appearance, and at the time, it was a relatively rare All-Ireland semi-final appearance as well. We overcame the Red Hand men that day on a scoreline of 0-12 to 1-6 in what was, in truth, a fairly dour affair. It was a little before yours truly’s time (I was 1) so I can only imagine the emotion that day. Sadly, we went on to lose to an excellent Cork side in the final, but it was a famous day which provided us with one of the most iconic Mayo football images of all time.
Photo: http: //spailpin.blogspot.ie/2006/02/green-above-red.html
2004 – All-Ireland Quarter Final
When the Qualifiers first emerged in 2001, it opened everything up in the sense that games between certain teams weren’t so rare anymore. 2004 was a year to remember for us in many ways: We had overcome Galway and the Rossies to capture our first Connacht Title in 5 years, we reached an All-Ireland Final for the first time in 7 years, and, perhaps the highlight, we dethroned one of the best All-Ireland Champions the country had known.
Tyrone were hot favourites going into the game despite being pipped in Ulster by bitter rivals Armagh. That day in Croker will go down, for me, as one of the greatest ever days. When you think back to that Tyrone side, it really does put into perspective what our lads achieved that day. Even a fantastic goal from Stephen O’Neill couldn’t stop a relentless Mayo, who went on to finish the game 0-16 to 1-9. David Brady led with a fantastic performance and 3 points from play, with the likes of Alan Dillon showing why he had earned an All-Star that year.
In an incredible day at HQ, Fermanagh also knocked 2002 Champions, Armagh, out of the Championship, setting up a date with ourselves, which we ultimately won after a replay.
2008 – Round 3 Qualifier
A frustrating day at the office. From our point of view, one we should definitely have closed out, but lost out by a single point. The frustration started on the Monday, when it was announced that they would be bringing us to Croke Park for a Qualifier, which was unheard of at the time. That meant I couldn’t make the trip and had to watch the game on a tiny TV in the canteen at work. It’s ok, though, because at the final whistle, a work colleague of mine, seeing how upset I was at losing by the minimum, decided to calm the whole situation down by explaining to me that it was “only football”. That’s exactly what I needed to hear.
Conor Mortimer got the only goal of the game but it wasn’t enough to get us into the All-Ireland series that year. Although we led for most of the game, we were slowly but surely clawed back by the Ulster men. Even more frustratingly, Tyrone went on to win a 3rd All-Ireland in 6 years after a phenomenal All-Ireland series where they hammered Dublin, comfortably overcame Wexford and beat Kerry in a roller coaster final (Brian Dooher, remember him?).
2013 – All-Ireland Semi-Final
We had just annihilated the 2012 All-Ireland champions, Donegal, in the previous round. For a change, we were favourites against a Tyrone side who had slogged it through a long, tough Qualifier campaign, beating Offaly, Roscommon, Kildare and Meath before they put Ulster Champions, Monaghan, out in the Quarter-Final. Remember that day? The day Joe Brolly, bizarrely, questioned Sean Cavanagh’s gender? Aye, that one.
Tyrone with momentum are a dangerous side indeed, something we hope to replicate on Saturday. But in 2013 we were Connacht Champions for the 3rd straight year and aiming to get back into an All-Ireland Final. A sticky first half ended with a brace of fantastic Chris Barrett points which was the catalyst for us to go on and ultimately win the game comfortably. And that was without Cillian, too, as he had gone off in the first half after aggravating that infamous shoulder injury. Alan Freeman stepped up to kick 1-4 in a 1-16 to 0-13 point win. There are very few decent clips from that day online, so just enjoy Chris Barrett’s contribution again!
So there you have it – a very brief synopsis of our previous encounters with Tyrone in Championship football. Much like 1989 and 2004, we are travelling up as underdogs, although only very slightly. It’s a massive day for Mayo football, and if you are making the journey east, do your best to get in and shout on the Junior lads in their All-Ireland Final against Kerry. That game throws in at 2pm.
I’m not usually one for the whole “best supporters in the world” lark that players frequently come out with, in all sports world-wide. In fact, I’m usually quite cynical about it. But Andy’s latest one is on the button for me:
“We’re Mayo and we’re in this together.”
Go book your train or bus ticket, right now.
London v Mayo 2016 Championship Opener
Well, after a topsy-turvy league and what seems like an endless winter it’s finally Championship time! And it’s an away fixture with a difference once again this year as we travel back to Ruislip to take on London GAA once again in the Connacht Senior Football Championship quarter-final. Mayo fans the world over will be hoping to avoid a repeat of events the last time we made that journey, which left us all wiping the sweat from our brows and breathing sighs of relief after a narrow escape following extra time.
Apart from “London Calling”, “Any tickets?” will be the tune on many supporters’ lips with the game now officially – and predictably – sold out. With no tickets available on the gate, there will undoubtedly be quite a few disappointed supporters who have booked flights and accomodation to London but may not get entry to the ground, with all 3,000 tickets being sold in advance.
For further updates and further information or details see: www.londongaa.co.uk, facebook.com/LondonGAA or @LondainGaa. Alternatively, contact London GAA County Board PRO – Declan Flanagan 0044 773 600 9080 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org. For full details and information on tickets and admission, please contact email@example.com.
London GAA regularly posts updates in the Facebook matchday event: https://www.facebook.com/events/199760367029559/.
Match Day Information
Date: Sunday 29th May 2016 | Venue: IRISH TV GAA GROUNDS RUISLIP | Throw in: 3pm | Gates Open: 11am
Match Programme £5 The game is all-ticket and is officially sold out (19th May)
Getting to Irish TV Grounds Ruislip
Travelling by Tube
One of the handiest ways to get to Ruislip from any part of London is on the tube. Get on the Central Line and head for Ruislip, South Ruislip station is the nearest to the ground, ( about 10 minute walk). There is also a bus stop outside the ground, called the “Polish War Memorial” stop. We’d recommend getting a London “Oyster Card” if you plan on doing a bit of travelling around London. Especially if you travel to the outer zones 1-7, you’ll save a lot of dosh with the Oyster card! You can pick up an Oyster card at any tube station and it can be topped up at any newsagents, unused credit remains on the card indefinitely which is handy.
Travelling by bus
The E7 BUS route stops outside the ground. As an alternative you could take a central line train to Ealing Broadway and catch the E7 directly to the Irish TV GAA Grounds.(Polish War Memorial Bus stop) The E7 Bus runs every 20m on a Sunday until 8pm, then every 30m. You can also take the Metropolitan Line to Ruislip and then take the E7 bus from just outside the station to the Grounds.
Travelling by taxi
You are advised to exit your taxi / cab at South Ruislip Station and continue your journey to the ground on foot and return for pick up after match. Taxis /Cabs are prohibited from dropping off or picking up passengers at the ground between 12pm and 8pm.
The Social Scene – What’s on in London for travelling fans?
As always there will be lots of social events planned around the weekend. You have the week ahead to put in some training!
“Moloney’s Bar Would like to wish a warm welcome to the Mayo Club ’51 and all Mayo Supporters on Friday 27th May. To get the party started we have DJ Barry from 8:30pm until late!” There will be two precious tickets to the London Vs Mayo game raffled off with all proceeds going to the Roisin Tansey Foundation.
Mayo News, Mayo Club 51 & Cáirde Mhaigheo ‘Big Match Meet-Up’ – Oxford Arms Camden
Ourselves, along with The Mayo News Sport and Cáirde Mhaigheo (Mayo and London) will be getting the Saturday proceedings underway with a warm-up gathering and chat in the Oxford Arms, Camden Town. We’re looking forward to availing of Tom’s hospitality and getting the pre-match chat underway. The chat will be recorded for broadcast on MidWest Radio on Sunday before the game. All are welcome to come along and join in the craic before hitting the town for the night.
The Bangor Reunion are holding a fundraiser in St. Anthony’s Club, Edgware, (HA8 9AN). On Saturday the 28th May 2016 at 8:30pm. Music on the night is by Seamus Moore and tickets are £10 at the door. All visiting supporters and Mayo people living in London are welcome. See the Bangor Reunion facebook page
Thomas McCurtains “Over For The Match”
Thomas McCurtains GAA club in East London proudly presents ‘Over for the Match’ in O’Neills, Leytsonstone – a night of discussion, fun and entertainment. The crew will be joined by some very special guests and GAA icons to talk about the future of London GAA, the match itself and of course have a sneaky look ahead to the rest of the Championship. There will be some great prizes to be won on the night! Tickets are £10 on the door. More info: “Over for the match” event page.
Achill GAA Social
Achill GAA will host a social evening in in Angies Bar, Willesden NW2 5SJ starting at 8pm. This will be an evening of music, culture and craic for all travelling to the match and for all Achill /Mayo people in the London area and beyond. There will be top prizes on the night; with a signed Mayo Jersey, match tickets and much more to be given away. Tickets for the social are available from any Achill GAA official, by sending a PM to their facebook page, or in advance from Angies Willesden. All processed raised will go towards Achill GAA Community Development project.
Irish TV Live Broadcast
IRISH TV are broadcasting LIVE for two hours from the IRISH TV football grounds in Ruislip on Saturday evening. The live preview show will be presented by well-known GAA commentator Brendan Hennessy, with IRISH TV London presenter Ian McDonnell from Balla in Mayo and will comprise a mix of chat, music, entertainment and interviews with some legendary GAA figures as well as a match preview. The good news is that there will be tickets available at the door. People wishing to attend are asked to be there before 7.30 as the show goes live at 8pm. Irish TV will also be raffling of some much sought after match tickets for all those present in the audience, make sure to get there early!
London v Mayo After Party
So there you have it – plenty to choose from over the weekend and of course there’s a thing or two to see in London as well. Safe travels to those of you heading across and to those of you already there, have the kettle on!
The journey begins again – MAIGH EO ABÚ!
Important Patrons Notice /Match Day Regulations
- Patrons are encouraged to arrive as early as possible before throw in.
- Admission by ticket only. Please retain your match ticket all times.
- Please co-operate with our stewards and match day volunteers in the leading up to the grounds and within the grounds.Our intention is to ensure that supporters enjoy the match in safety and comfort so please follow all safety instructions.
- Bringing alcohol into the grounds is prohibited. If found on person it will be confiscated.
- Strictly no parking allowed within the grounds or adjacent roads. You are encouraged to use public transport where possible.Limited disabled parking is available within in the grounds.You may apply for a pass by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Refreshments, Food, and plenty of entertainment available within the grounds.
- For patrons arriving to attend the After Match Party (5pm) A ground admission fee of £5 will apply.
While most Mayo eyes are firmly on Dr. Hyde Park for Sunday’s crunch showdown with Roscommon, the Championship is already in sight. This year, Mayo GAA travel to Ruislip, the ground of London GAA to kick off their Connacht Championship campaign on Sunday 29th May 2016.
London GAA ticketing arrangments
This year for the first time, the fixture will be all-ticket, and tickets have now just gone on sale. Only adult tickets are available online, and according to London GAA tickets for adults, OAPs and students will be available at Ruislip on the day. However demand is likely to be huge. If the crowd of Mayo supporters that travelled to New York in 2014 is anything to by, there’s likely to be a massive contingent crossing the Irish sea, and of course the occasion will be a huge draw for many of Irish diaspora across the UK.
So if you’re planning on heading over, we would strongly recommend that you book your tickets now. Tickets booked during the week and have already arrived in the post!
Cillian O’Connor converts against London in the 2013 Connacht Final in Elverys MacHale Park
Tickets can be bought in the UK from London GAA using the following link:http://londongaa.tickets.ie/.
If you have any questions please contact Mark Gottsche on 07872600074 or email email@example.com.
UPDATE 29th March:
Tickets are currently unavailable online, however we have been informed by Club London GAA that additional tickets will be going on sale online later this week. Tickets will be available from Ruislip from Monday 4th April.
Roscommon vs. Mayo this Sunday
In the meantime, Mayo have a do-or-die fixture this Sunday against Roscommon in Dr. Hyde Park in Round 6 of the Allianz National Football league. Throw-in is at the later time of 3.30pm. Lose, and it’s almost certain relegation to Division 2 for next year, and Roscommon under Fergal O’Donnell and Mayo’s own Kevin McStay have been blazing a trail through Division 1 this year, racking up scores left right and centre. They would be only too delighted to relegate this Mayo team who have been struggling in the League thus far.
Some practicalities – be aware that the Roscommon Easter Parade is taking place at 12.30 and traffic is likely to be heavy. Seating will also be allocated on a first-come first-served basis and the weather is not promised favourable, so if you want to get into the stand get on the road early.
While the arguments could be made that Mayo’s focus justifiably lies elsewhere, and that we have been playing catch-up after a delayed start and a plague of injuries, no-one one wants to see this team lose their status as the longest serving team in the top flight.
It’s the first time this year that the sixteenth man will be needed – we are going into a dogfight, against a well-supported, highly confident team on their home patch, so we as supporters will need to make ourselves count on Sunday. We can’t kick points, but we can let these lads who have given us so many incredible days out know that we are backing them all the way.
We are therefore appealing to every man, woman and child to make some noise and bring a flag on Sunday and let’s revive the famous “Mayo Roar”.
Bring the colour, bring the noise and let’s together get the job done. Maigh Eo Abú!
There’s nothing quite like the build-up to an All-Ireland final in which your team is taking part, and while the mood around Mayo football isn’t currently at its best after last Sunday’s defeat to Kerry, the feeling around the streets of Castlebar is different. As Castlebar Mitchels approach the final hurdle and All-Ireland Club Final day looms, every shop and business has some form of Mitchels-themed decoration on display – Main Street is absolutely plastered with red and yellow and when the sun shines like it has been in the last couple of days, it’s a fantastic sight. Even the dogs of Castlebar are getting on board!
Pictured: A dog in a Castlebar Mitchels hoodie.
Upsetting the odds
In the past 3 years, this team has toppled some of the biggest names in club football, and have upset the odds while doing so. And when I say they upset the odds, I mean crazy odds like when they were 3/1 to beat Corofin in this year’s Connacht Final. A lot of people capitalised on it that day which made winning a second Connacht Title in 3 years that bit sweeter! In 2013/14, on the way to their All-Ireland Final appearance, the Mitchels defeated Corofin in Tuam, reigning All-Ireland Champions St. Brigids, and Kerry and Munster Champions Dr. Crokes. We came up just short in Croker, but this year they added Crossmaglen to the growing list in an incredible night in Breffni Park to give themselves another shot at the ultimate prize.
This squad is littered with talent, and I should clear something up. When I say they upset the odds, I am talking strictly bookmaker’s odds. I don’t know many Mitchels fans who are surprised at another All-Ireland Final appearance. There was always a feeling that winning the Mayo Senior Championship was a stepping stone to greater things.
On TG4 a few nights ago, former Cork Hurler Donal O’Grady predicted that Ballyboden would go on to win the title. That’s fine, of course it is. It’s an All-Ireland final and anything can happen in 60 minutes of high-intensity football. But his rationale for predicting a Ballyboden win, and I’m paraphrasing here, was because “Mayo teams freeze in Croke Park”. Maybe I’m over-reacting, but that is some seriously lazy, nauseating and frankly terrible analysis. You’d expect to see that in the comments section on a Facebook post, but certainly not on national television. But anyway, that’s beside the point!
On Thursday a couple of thousand will make the long trip east from Castlebar and I’m certain a few more will follow from other parishes, towns and villages all over the county. On my drive home from Claremorris from work every day I pass a sign just outside Breaffy wishing the Mitchels the best of luck in the final. That message comes from their closest neighbours and rivals. It’s great to see everyone rally behind the Mayo and Connacht representatives as indeed we all did when Hollymount-Carramore and Ardnaree Sarsfields took to Croker last month for the Intermediate and Junior finals. It wasn’t to be for them on the day but it was a massive year for Mayo club football with a hat-trick of Connacht titles and All-Ireland Final appearances. Hopefully, the boys from the county town can make it a bit more memorable and claim the Andy Merrigan Cup for the first time in their long and proud history.
Photo: Jarlath Cunningham. For more of Jarlath’s pictures, check out the Mitchels Facebook page. There are any amount of cracking shots from the journey so far this year.
Pride of place is a funny thing. For the last 6 months I have been working in Claremorris – a great town with great people. But it was still a necessity for me to nail my colours to the mast (or tie a small scarf thing on my computer monitor) at the office even though most people don’t really take notice! All in the hope that someone will call in and realise I’m from out of town and maybe talk to me about the match. I love driving home in the evening and I love coming back into the town where you can see red and yellow flags and bunting left, right and centre.
HA! That’ll show ye!
For me, it’s my hometown taking to the field on Thursday. It would be dishonest to claim that I was a clubman because, frankly, I’m not. They are the ones who put in the hard yards during the year on the training pitch, in the board rooms, selling programmes, teas, sandwiches and sweets during matches while everyone else enjoys the action. I go to all the Castlebar Mitchels games alright with my dad whether they are in town or across the country – The two days in Tuam beating Corofin, the day in the Hyde beating Brigids, Portlaoise for Dr. Crokes and the night in Cavan for Crossmaglen are some of my absolute best sporting memories. That is without even mentioning the Mayo Championship wins over Breaffy. But most of my free time is spent across the town at a different club – Castlebar Celtic – populated by yet another fine bunch of volunteers who love their club and their town. Most of the lads taking the field on Thursday have dawned the green and white hoops at some stage in their lives, and we even saw Shane “Hoppy” Hopkins parade the colours around after beating Crossmaglen!
And that’s because they are all of this town and they have represented it in many different forms, be it green and white or red and yellow. But this week it’s all about the red and yellow, it’s about our county town being in the national spotlight on our national day and for all the right reasons. Hopefully, that spotlight will continue into the night on the 17th. My gut tells me that it will.
H’on the Mitchels!
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