We welcome Dublin fan Neil Franklin into our guest spot as we build up to the big match on Sunday.
I don’t know what my real attitude towards Mayo football is. I’ve never been excited by it in the way that I was excited by Down’s early 90s flair and swagger, or Galway’s late 90s version of the same qualities. I’ve never admired it in the way I admired Tyrone or Armagh’s defiance, I’ve never feared it in the way I feared Meath and Kerry. For a long time it barely registered on my radar. When it did, it came with baggage weighing it down, and it generally made for an uncomfortable watch.
On the day that Mayo demolished Donegal in the 2013 All-Ireland quarter-final, I began reading Keith Duggan’s book “House Of Pain”, finishing it three weeks later, the day before Mayo beat Tyrone in the All-Ireland semi-final. The aim of that book may not be to fill people from other counties with pity for Mayo, but unfortunately that is the inevitable outcome of reading it. Everybody wants Mayo to win an All-Ireland. The truth is, we want you to get it over with so we can stop feeling guilty about cheering against you.
But I’m also jealous of Mayo in some ways. That may sound strange coming from somebody from a county with 24 All-Ireland titles against Mayo’s mere three but to me, it’s rational. Kind of.
I’m jealous of what it must feel like to have a whole county unite and go into the Lion’s den and face Hill 16 and 50,000 Dubs in their own backyard. Jealous of being from a county where GAA is part of the fabric of everyday life in a way that it will never be in Dublin. Jealous of being part of a people and a cause in a way that we will never know. Jealous of being an underdog. Jealous of the chase.
Mayo people want to end the chase, and go back to being a normal county unencumbered by the nation’s pity and “God help us” tags. The chase can only be worthwhile if the prize is won.
Hill 16 – Dublin only?
The only insight I can gather into what it must feel like to be a Mayo person as Sam Maguire comes into view in the distance and then disappears yet again is from being a Liverpool fan in April 2014 as 24 years without a League championship promised to end in a glorious climax, and then blew up in a manner that left me feeling despairing, bitter, yet empty. It’s not the same though. Liverpool FC is a basically a television-inspired, one way love affair for me, not much more real than Taylor Swift or Jessica Alba. Mayo football to Mayo people is not that and never will be.
Dublin’s chase, the longest in the county’s history, lasted 16 years, exactly one quarter of the current length of Mayo’s.
Winning in 2011 was great. The manner of it was better, coming from behind as underdogs to overhaul your greatest rivals and beat them in the championship for the first time in 34 years.
I knew then and I know now that that was as good as it could ever get following the Dublin football team. The 2013 semi-final came damn close, but again, that was Kerry. Kerry are the one county who will always be able to waken even the most sated Dub from his well-fed sloth and turn them into a ravenous, bloodthirsty animal again.
I didn’t particularly enjoy the final. September 22nd of two years ago almost felt too perfect and ultimately, it could only disappoint. Closer to the shortest day than the longest, in most years it would have been the hottest day of the year, although perhaps not in that glorious summer of 2013.
I stood beside Donegal, Derry, Armagh and Tyrone people in previous years as they experienced the agonising final minutes before their first All-Irelands, so I’ve seen and even felt what it brings out in people. Being in opposition to that is a strange, conflicted feeling. There was a different kind of tension in the air in 2013 to 2011. I felt our tension and I felt Mayo’s tension as a group of Mayo supporters stood near me on Hill 16.
As Cillian O’Connor lined up that last free, it was difficult to know what to think. I didn’t know what I wanted to happen. Probably for one more play to be allowed and for Mayo to get a draw. That was not to be.
When Joe McQuillan blew the whistle from Stephen Cluxton’s kickout, there were celebrations, flares, flags and blue smoke, but it wasn’t like 2011. There was real disappointment and real emotion in close vicinity and it was hard not to feel some of it.
It’s hard not to laugh at Kerry and Kilkenny people who tell me they know disappointment too. Sure. They don’t even know what it felt like to be a Dublin supporter during our barren spell. Never mind Mayo, never mind counties who have never won the All-Ireland such as Monaghan.
Dublin people perhaps know more disappointment than Kerry or Kilkenny, but it’s still different for us. Winning does strange things to you. Winning when you have an almost obscene population and money advantage, and now talent advantage over virtually every county, as Dublin have, does even stranger things. Dublin should be winning and are winning. You find yourself becoming apathetic, bored almost, as the latest hapless victim lines up to be squashed like a bug. Every match in the cavernous new Croke Park, metaphorical tumbleweed blowing around the place, Dublin people fattened on success, some too bored by the sheer inevitability of it all to even bother clapping never mind cheering, the match day experience usually as stale as a loaf that left Oul’ Mr. Brennan’s factory a fortnight ago.
As a kid growing up, for me Dublin’s year generally revolved around one day – often the last Sunday in July, Leinster final day, sometimes earlier, in which case it would be the unofficial but real Leinster final day, when we would inevitably meet Meath. That day would determine whether the year was a success or a failure.
All this time we in Dublin would have considered Mayo not much more than a joke, a team that might have an outside chance of sneaking through to make up the numbers in the All-Ireland final in those triennial years when Connacht teams got the “soft” draw of the Ulster champions in the semi-final.
The things began to change. The GAA decided to give teams a second chance and rivalries and certainties blurred. Sligo, Leitrim, Roscommon, Armagh and London came onto Dublin’s horizon. Kerry returned to it. And then, later, came Mayo. Respect wasn’t something that came naturally to Dublin people when they thought of Mayo. Mayo have had to earn Dublin’s respect.
The 2013 final was the apex of what is mainly a modern rivalry, but it is pockmarked by the far apart yet symmetrical semi-final meetings of 1955 and 1985 to which this year’s edition is the latest descendant. Both took place in the midst of decades in which Ireland was blighted by emigration and both ended in draws. The circle turns again.
1955 was a key year in Dublin GAA history. It was the first year of what we now know as “The Dubs”, the first time a Dublin football team made up entirely of Dubliners, most of them St. Vincent’s men, won a Leinster title. With Kevin Heffernan starring, a 20 point humiliation of Meath led to an All-Ireland semi-final meeting with an ageing Mayo team trying one more time to get back to the summit they had reached in 1950 and 1951. Although famous names such as Tom Langan, Paddy Prendergast and Sean Flanagan were still there, they were shorn of their star forward Padraic Carney, who had left for the USA the previous year to pursue his medical career. In rain and thunder and lightning that made conditions almost unplayable, the teams drew 1-4 to 0-7, Dublin eventually drawing level late on through Nicky Maher.
The replay went ahead in much better weather as the second part of a double-bill with Kerry and Cavan, who were also replaying their semi-final. This time Dublin took the initiative early and would never really lose it after Ollie Freaney’s first half goal cancelled out Jimmy Curran’s effort. Despite Curran’s efforts in hitting every score of Mayo’s 1-7 tally, Dublin’s 1-8 was enough to win by a single point. They would lose the final to Kerry, the first chapter in a storied rivalry which has rarely relented ever since.
The 1955 Clash
1985 is remembered mainly for two things – Padraig Brogan’s screamer of a goal in front of Hill 16 and John Finn having his jaw broken. A whole other article could probably be written about that, but we won’t go there …
The drawn game of 1985 was significant in that it marked the first, tentative step towards Mayo being a genuine national force in the game since the corresponding semi-final 30 years earlier. An eight point replay defeat turned out to be their lot, but the genesis of the 1989 final team was there in those matches. Again, Dublin lost the final to you-know-who. In fact all four Dublin-Mayo semi-finals since 1955 have seen the winner go on to lose the final.
The semi-final of 2006 was the day the modern day rivalry of Dublin and Mayo really began. Before the match had even started, farcical scenes almost reminiscent of a Benny Hill Show sketch had the crowd laughing and shouting angrily in equal measure.
Mayo weren’t the first team to warm up in front of Hill 16 in an All-Ireland semi-final. Tyrone did likewise in 1984, and subsequently were made to pay in a comprehensive beating.
But that was a Dublin team who were reigning All-Ireland champions and were never going to be undermined by such nonsense. In 2006 Mayo knew that while they weren’t a champion team, neither was it a champion team they were facing, but one with a soft underbelly which could be exposed. While it would be fatuous to claim it genuinely affected the result, Dublin having their territory claimed undoubtedly rattled them. It was the ridiculous prelude to the sublime as the game of the year and possibly the decade ensued.
It was Mayo’s day of blond ambition. Conor Mortimer led the way, but Ciaran McDonald’s contribution is undoubtedly the more enduring.
Like Mayo football as a whole, McDonald had to earn people’s respect. Now considered an almost mythical, mystical figure of Mayo football, a diffident, avant-garde, mysterious leftfield genius, it’s hard to believe that for a long time he was treated as a bit of joke figure. A flash harry, a “Swedish Maid”, as Joe Brolly once called him. That changed in 2004, shortly after Brolly made those comments during a Connacht championship clash with Galway. Mayo made the All-Ireland final where, despite McDonald’s not inconsiderable efforts, they were no match for Kerry, but skewered All-Ireland champions Tyrone along the way. That day McDonald made sure nobody would ever fail to take him seriously again.
Elverys beats Arnotts once again.
His performance in that semi-final against Dublin in 2006 seemed as extraordinary at the time as that Mayo team was ordinary, and a look back at the video confirms first impressions didn’t lie. McDonald controlled that game like a matador. In the midst of a Dublin whirlwind, he was like a Gaelic football equivalent of Maradona at the 1986 World Cup, controlling everything, dictating the tempo almost nonchalantly. And at the end, delivering the exquisite coup de grace.
But in truth, that 2006 semi-final was a battle to be runners-up to one of the best Kerry teams ever.
Things had moved on significantly by the time the 2012 semi-final came around, with a sprinkling of survivors on both sides peppering two largely new, and better teams, even if the match didn’t quite attain the all-time classic status of six years before. The flair of McDonald may not have iced Mayo’s cake this time, but it was clear that their power and pace were the framework of a more formidable overall unit.
In saying that, the Dublin of 2012 were not the Dublin of 2011, or 2013, feeling the hangover of All-Ireland success, Pat Gilroy unable to rouse them like he had been a year earlier. It was only the prospect of a humiliation that did so, but the roar when it came threatened to engulf Mayo. That last 20 minutes was one of the most devastating bursts of football that this Dublin team have produced, and had Bernard Brogan slotted a gilt-edged chance past David Clarke with five minutes left, the result would likely have gone the other way. He didn’t, Mayo advanced to another losing final and Brogan stored his disappointment up for 2013 when he would face a different Mayo goalkeeper.
The record shows that Mayo have always troubled Dublin. In those five times the counties have crossed paths since 1955, on the initial day there have been two draws, two Mayo wins, and a solitary Dublin win by one point, Dublin’s 1955 and 1985 replay wins coming by one and eight points respectively.
Which leads us to Sunday.
Dublin at times have looked unstoppable this year, and the league rout in Castlebar in March was one of those occasions. But lately, they’ve been looking vulnerable. Stephen Cluxton has been doing a fair impression of Iker Casillas at last year’s World Cup. Paul Flynn appears hampered by injury. Michael Darragh McAuley’s engine appears to be running on ordinary rather than premium at the moment.
Mayo people would be foolish to take any of that at face value. This is a champion Dublin team with the ability to explode.
Mayo’s early season form is now forgotten, their performance against Donegal as complete as any they’ve put in since 2011. James Horan did a superb job in his four years, but perhaps the fresh voices of Noel Connelly and Pat Holmes, who have won an All-Ireland under-21 title with many of this team, and a fresh role for Aidan O’Shea, can make the difference.
“Miles on the clock”, say the detractors, given that those under-21 players of 2006 are all around the 30 mark now. But if this was a Kerry team, it would be classed as vast experience, and that’s what it deserves to be classed as. Both teams have that experience and a superb, free flowing style at their best, and it’s as tantalising a clash as has been played in the football championship since the great Kerry and Tyrone teams of the last decade met in their two All-Ireland finals.
It’s rare to have a great atmosphere at Croke Park these days. League and Leinster championship matches there are usually a depressing prospect.
Sunday will be different. It’ll be full on and then some. Semi-finals generally provide the best atmosphere of any match in a given year, as Croke Park is filled with supporters from the competing counties rather than the large proportion of neutrals that attend the final. And for Dubs it yet again it provides the prospect of a moment which is exclusive to the patrons on Hill 16 (we’re like the good folk at Augusta, just noiser and with a more colourful vocabulary). Five times in the new Croke Park Dublin have lost semi-finals. On each of those occasions, at the final whistle, the roar that went up from the other three sides of the stadium has been incredible and genuinely spine tingling. Eerily quiet around you, the rest of Croke Park becomes deafening, a wall of noise that Phil Spector couldn’t reproduce. Horrible yet beautiful at the same time.
Few counties have a Dublin diaspora like Mayo. The pubs will fill with them from Saturday evening, and as I wait at my Dublin bus stop on the main road in from the West on Sunday morning, cars and buses zooming past with their green and red flags will signal the main invasion.
Not this photo again lads!?
Whereas in previous decades, Dublin supporters used to wait for the last Sunday in July, it’s now the last Sunday in August we wait for as the day when the real business begins. This is the type of day you wait all year for. But for both teams it’s only a bridge to September. For Mayo, the chase will continue past Sunday, either way.
The big dog versus the underdog.
Every underdog surely has his day eventually.
Neil Franklin loves hurling (especially the golden 90s era), soccer (especially Liverpool), darts, poetry, wine and song. If he had a paper cut he would bleed blue. Follow him on twitter at @hill16bhoy
On a week like this, it has been hard to turn our thoughts to the game ahead, and for the remainder of the week and beyond they will undoubtedly remain with the family and friends of the late Darragh Doherty.
But this is a massive occasion for our county and on Sunday, more than ever, this Mayo team will be looking to do him and themselves proud as we face into an All-Ireland semi-final for the fifth year running. Truly these are glory days for and this Sunday versus the mighty Dubs, while it will undoubtedly be laced with poignancy has the potential to be the biggest and loudest day we have ever witnessed in Croke Park to date.
If there was ever a day to stand up and be counted as supporters, this is it.
If there was ever a day to empty your lungs in support of our boys, THIS IS IT.
It’s time for us to play our part once again. The Dubs are loud; and in all likelihood, we will be outnumbered. We need to work harder. Let no silence fall during this game. If we lead, we cheer. If we fall behind, we cheer louder. Be the best Mayo supporters we can be. Bring the colour, and bring the noise. It’s time to be the 16th man.
Being The 16th (And 17th) Man
As is now customary, here is our usual round-up of info on how to get there. We noticed that the sound people in the Western People have taken a leaf from our book this week and done their own essential matchday guide and we are very flattered altogether but we’ve a bit more info below that might be useful. If you have any other info you think people should know, get in touch.
As we always say, leave on time … leave yourself plenty of time for the breakfast in Rathowen!
The Longford Marathon takes place in Longford (unsurprisingly), on Sunday, and Main Street in Longford will remain closed from 10-4pm. The N4/N5 bypass will remain open, but with potentially heavier volumes of traffic.
Don’t forget your change for the toll bridge. When nerves are fraught it may just be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. Many a marriage has run into difficulty under the e-toll sign in Enfield. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.
Don’t forget either to stop into Feerick’s in Rathowen for a hearty breakfast. In what is now a match day tradition Mid West Radio will be broadcasting on the morning of the game.
Mater Car Park: Sunday’s special offer is available at the Mater Car Park; the closest official car park to the stadium, with all day parking available for only €10 and it can be booked online here. Fans are advised to book early for this weekend to avoid disappointment.
Q-Park: Park for up to 24 hours on match-day in Q-Park Clerys for only €8. Or park in Q-Park Usher’s Quay for €4 upon presentation of a match day ticket. The Match-Day offer is for GAA matches only and does not cover concerts or other events in Croke Park.
Park Rite: All day parking on event days is available at Park Rite locations across the city centre for €5 for match day patrons upon production of your match ticket. Locations and pre-booking here.
Clonliffe College: The Clonliffe College car park is situated 5 minutes from Croke Park Stadium. Parking is available for just €10 on match days. The car park has 2000 spaces, including 100 disabled spaces and is accessible via Drumcondra Road Lower.
If this is your car, leave early. Like, now.
Here are some bus companies that will be travelling to the match on Sunday. If you know of any more, please let us know and we will add them in here. Call to book your seat in advance if you haven’t already, we don’t want to see any of you lot thumbing up the N5.
Michael Moran Bus Hire 087 2330097 Westport > Castlebar.
Fred Queenan Bus Hire 086 8656449
Treacy Coaches Bus Hire Ballina 096 22563
Lavin Coaches Kiltimagh 086 8676737
Michael Griffin Bus Hire 094 9252156 Swnford Leaving the Gateway Hotel @8am
Irish Rail have announced extra services to Dublin to cover the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship Semi-Final on Sunday 30th August. There will be three extra trains with one departing from Ballina and the other two from Westport. Booking on www.irishrail.ie is essential to secure your train ticket.
The following additional services have been added to accommodate supporters travelling to/from the match:
08:25hrs Wesport – Dublin
08:45hrs Wesport – Dublin
09:05hrs Ballina – Dublin
18:20hrs Dublin – Westport
19:10hrs Dublin – Ballina
19:20hrs Dublin – Westport
To book these services please click on this link, but do so soon as they are expected to sell out.
For extra matchday fun, when you reserve your seat you can opt to have your name displayed overhead. We wonder how many Willie Joe Paddens will be travelling this weekend …
Best use of the reserved seating function we’ve seen yet
Just pray this name doesn’t appear beside yours
Ticket demand for the semi final match between Mayo and Dublin are at All-Ireland final levels! Anyone with a season tickets that was lucky enough to avail of the offer to buy 4 extra “bring a friend” tickets on their account were very lucky as this offer sold out in less than 24 hours! Tickets on ticketmaster and from Supervalu also sold out within days. All the clubs in Mayo will be struggling to cater for all the tickets requested and will only be able to issue about 80% of tickets ordered. Hopefully there will be more allocated to clubs later in the week in the second allocation.
Anyone without tickets on the day of the match could try the Croke Park ticket offices. One is located on Dorset Street upper and another is located on the North Circular Road opposite Gills Pub. Otherwise, if you do find yourself with a spare ticket and no takers (a highly unlikely scenario!) you could give us a shout as we have been inundated with messages looking for tickets.
Pre Match Meet-Up
Traditonally, Willie Joe over on Mayo GAA Blog organises the now-customary pre-semi Saturday night meet-up in Bowes pub on Fleet Street. As a mark of respect, however, given the week that’s in it, it will not be going ahead this year. Here’s hoping we have a pre-final meetup to look forward to instead, however.
On the day, because of the crowd volumes, it’s unlikely that there will be access to our usual haunt in the Croke Park Hotel for ticket-holders other than those who are in the Hogan Stand, so there will be no Club ’51 pre-match meet-up on the day.
Everleigh Garden on Harcourt Street (who once famously refused entry to Aidan O’Shea – sorry lads, too funny not bring up) are offering free entry with a Mayo jersey this weekend and also have competitions galore over on their Facebook and Instagram pages.
DTwo nightclub, also on Harcourt St are offering free entry with county colours before midnight and are having a pre-match party on Saturday night featuring Wesht of Ireland “gyp-hop”band The Latchikos (they’re class). Mention to Steven on the night that you’re part of Club ’51 and he says he’ll look after you (whatever that means – we reckon it definitely means a few free pints. Right Steven?)
If you don’t want a sore head for Sunday Willie Joe over on Mayo GAA blog has details of two great sporting events, one on each side of the river in this post.
Season Ticket Holders Lounge
The season ticket holders lounge is a new initiative from Croke Park for season ticket holders. You can pre-purchase dinner vouchers through the “Special Purchases” section in your season ticket account. You have until midday today (Wednesday 26th August) to avail of the offer. The adult menu costs €15 and U-16 menu costs €10.
“We are continuing our new offering for Season Tickets Holders for this All Ireland Football Championship Semi Finals in the form of a Season Ticket Lounge at Section 401. This is an area with tables exclusively reserved for Season Ticket holders who avail of this Special Purchase option. Service time is from when stiles open until the start of the second match.”
For those of you at home on Sunday, the Sky Sports panel preview the All-Ireland SFC semi-final between Dublin and Mayo live on Sky Sports 3 on Sunday 30th August at 3.30pm: Mayo v Dublin preview
The Mayo News have their usual pre-match podcast online, featuring Sports Editor Mike Finnerty, Mayo ladies footballer Fiona McHale, and Castlebar Mitchels manager Declan O’Reilly with host Rob Murphy.
MidWest Radio will have their traditional pre-match preview show on Thursday night from 10pm.
And Off The Ball have an interview with Pearce Hanley on life down under:
Can’t make the game? No problem!
Mayo Movie World in Moneen, Castlebar are showing the match for free in HD – drop into the cinema to book your ticket.
Replay Details (!!)
If (god forbid!) the game ends in stalemate and there is a replay, this will be held in Croke Park (yes, in Croke Park) on the evening of Saturday 5th September.
You will probably have seen this online already, but if not, former Mayo great David Brady has suggested that Mayo supporters in Croke Park on Sunday pay tribute to the late Darragh Doherty, who wore the no.13 jersey, by way of a massive round of applause in the 13th minute of the game. The idea has been widely shared and supported and in a reminder that solidarity transcends sporting rivalry within the GAA family, most of the Dublin supporters’ groups have also come on board to lend their support to the initiative.
Please share and spread the word to all Mayo supporters who may not be online, and let us raise the roof for our fallen brother.
Bring the Noise …
What more can we say? Bring your flags, (even one flag per car makes a MASSIVE difference) your voices, your hearts and souls and let’s bring that infamous Mayo Roar back to Croke Park. This is it!
Maigh Eo Abú!
Mayo v Dublin All Ireland Semi Final 2015 Match Programe
Elvery’s Pre Match Promotional Advertisment
Here’s the advertisment from Elvery’s the week before the match which Mayo Club 51 took part in filming. #SpineTingling
It was with great sadness that we learned yesterday of the death of the talented Kilmaine GAA and All-Ireland winning minor footballer, 19 year-old Darragh Doherty in a tragic accident on Sunday night near Ballinrobe.
It seems like only yesterday that Darragh was lighting up the Connacht and All-Ireland Minor Championships with those magic goals, and his individual display in September 2013, on one of the greatest footballing days in our proud county’s history, will live long in the hearts and minds of Mayo gaels worldwide. His colleagues in Kilmaine GAA have described him as “an outstanding footballer who bought honour and glory to club and county”, and anyone who witnessed him play will know just how much commitment he brought to the cause.
All of us at Club ’51 would like to extend our deepest, heartfelt sympathies to Darragh’s family, friends, clubmates at Kilmaine GAA and from the Mayo minor squad and management. This is the second such tragedy to hit the Kilmaine GAA community in recent months, and our thoughts are also with the family of the late Pádraig O’Dea at this time. We would also like to wish Darragh’s friend Niall, who was also involved in the accident a speedy recovery and our thoughts are with him too and over the coming months.
In what has truly been a tragic weekend for the Mayo GAA community, we also extend our sympathies to the loved ones of Daniel Rushe of Kilmovee GAA, who passed away over the weekend in Adelaide.
Such a loss of life at such a young age is hard to comprehend in its unfairness and senselessness, and this tragedy transcends any sporting rivalry or football game. But while it is hard to contemplate sport at such a tragic time, in sport lies solidarity and healing, and there is little doubt that Darragh’s family and friends will be in the thoughts of every Mayo and indeed Dublin supporter in Croke Park. So let us all do Darragh, who proudly represented our great county with such distinction, proud on the day.
Sleep well, Darragh, and thank you for the memories. You will never be forgotten.
Darragh Doherty (left) lifts the Tom Markham Cup with his teammate, Tommy Conroy on 22nd September 2013.
EDITED: To add in footage of this magical moment that will live long in our memories. Thanks to Amanda Doherty for uploading.
We’re delighted to welcome to the guest slot this week a Mayo fan writing from across the water, Rambling Paddy. Based in London Town. Paddy is an avid follower of Mayo’s fortunes from across the water and here’s his account of what it’s like supporting Mayo football from across the Irish Sea. You can follow him over on his blog, A Rambling Paddy.
Last weekend, the first transatlantic pilgrimage touched down at Knock airport to great fanfare. With a welcome party led by An Taoiseach and witnessed by national media it certainly was a day of great significance for a regional airport that continues to innovate and punch above its weight. Although I should correct myself when I say the plane “touched down”. As anyone that’s landed into Ireland West Airport can testify, that may give an unrealistic impression of what is sometimes a not-so-gentle landing. Not infrequently, adverse winds and fog can mean a tricky approach and getting wheels on terra firma can be rather abrupt. And that’s not actually a bad (if slightly tortured) metaphor for the experience of following the fortunes of Mayo football. Not always blue skies and we can often end up being brought back down to earth with a bump. Not one for travellers of a nervous disposition.
Following from overseas can both intensify and dilute that experience. Even in such a technologically-connected world, being one step removed from the day-to-day conversations brings a certain sense of exclusion. Who’s going well at training. The rumoured line-ups. The challenge matches. These are just a few thoughts that might merely be easy discussion topics when bumping into a neighbour at home but they don’t usually crop up in the corner shops of Clapham. And although this may seem insignificant, it adds to the latent sense of occasion that only an extended Mayo run in the championship provides.
To compensate for this, I tend to forensically trawl through all coverage of Mayo football online. And if we’re currently spoilt with the quality of the football, then the level of coverage they receive certainly does it justice. Amateur writers such as “An Spailpín Fánach” and Willie Joe of Mayo GAA Blog fame are always compulsive reading. And I use the term amateur in the same sense of the football itself – professional in all but name. We’re also fortunate with the quality of the regional media and the digital supplements of The Western People and The Mayo News are always worth coughing up the few quid for. The Mayo News team in particular deserve extra plaudits for their innovative podcast which has been good company on several tortuous tube journeys. In addition to that local coverage, a few of the national writers seem to have a grá for Mayo football – the ever-excellent Keith Duggan at the Irish Times in particular. All are consumed fanatically.
Additionally, any calls home at this time of year invariably involve a five minute maternal briefing on any local or family matters, followed by a forty-five minute in-depth analysis with the old fella on the next championship game. Now that we’re heading for a semi-final, I’ll probably have to up that allowance to an hour. The ties might be slightly remote, but still maintain a tangible connection to the atmosphere. And anyway I shouldn’t complain. London is a great city, and I’m fortunate that it’s still accessible enough to facilitate regular trips home for family, friends…and football. Or more correctly, I’m fortunate that Knock Airport exists to facilitate it.
The relationship between the airport and those of us that travel over and back regularly can be summarised by a conversation I heard recently while queuing at Stansted. Two middle-aged Mayo gentlemen ahead of me waiting to board, returning after a week’s work on the building sites of London. I gathered it wasn’t their first tour of duty overseas. Having spent twenty minutes complaining about the cost of the departure charge at the airport, they ended up talking round in circles eventually praising its value compared with the cost of travelling to Britain in the eighties. By the time we were ready to board, a general consensus had been reached that for the convenience of having an international airport on their doorstep, donating all their worldly goods at the gate wouldn’t be outrageous. (For any airport staff reading I’d disagree – a tenner is plenty!) In summary: we shouldn’t take Monsignor Horan’s landmark achievement for granted.
And to flog that airport metaphor to death, we similarly shouldn’t take the achievements of this current Mayo team for granted either. For that reason, I had sufficient confidence prior to the Donegal clash to go ahead and book flights back for the semi-final. A gamble on meeting the Dubs in Croker on the last weekend of August. Another flight, another trip to headquarters.
As the countdown to the All-Ireland quarter final (against God only knows who) gets underway, it’s probably time to start making a few plans for getting there. With that in mind, here’s some early info on transport for Mayo supporters to Croke Park.
Bearing in mind that we are playing twice in Croke Park on 8th August (our Junior team takes on Kerry in the All-Ireland Final at 2pm and our seniors play in the quarter-final at 6pm), it’s expected that as usual, a large contingent will be making the journey from the West.
Credit: Mayo GAA Facebook Page
We’ll be compiling a list of transport options and updating it over the coming days so if you know anyone who is running a private coach on the day please contact us with details or leave a comment underneath, and we’ll add it in.
Irish Rail are running trains from Ballina and Westport at times that work well for the games: – see all relevant information here:
BALLINROBE: Kieran Biggins is providing a ticket plus transport deal, with the bus leaving Ballinrobe at 1.00pm sharp. The cost of the bus and entry ticket to Croke Park to the match is €35.Anyone interested who wishes to reserve a place should contact Kieran on 087 2705050 to book their place, early bookings are advisable. (Thanks to Ballinrobe GAA)
BALLINA: Treacy Coaches are running a bus to Dublin on the 8th, departing Ballina at 12 noon. To book, email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 096 22563. Depending on preferences, i.e. whether people want to see the Junior Final (which we hope they will!) they may run a coach at 9.30am to cater for them, so if you are interested please get in touch with them as soon as possible.
Crossmolina: Call Gillespie Coaches on 085 7646523 for details.
If there are any other planned buses please let us know and we will post them here.
Parking around Croke Park on Saturday is harder to get than parking on Sundays – for one, on-street parking is a bit of a risk due to clampers. Details on car parks near Croke Park can be found here.
Mayo GAA has posted the following information on its website about Euro Car Parks’ €7 match day parking offer. Saturday’s special offer is available at the Mater Car Park; the closest official car park to the stadium, with all day parking available for only €7 and it can be booked online here. Fans are advised to book early for this weekend to avoid disappointment. UPDATE: This is now fully booked out (Friday evening)
Luas Cross-city works are ongoing in the city centre; all information is here. Main thing to note is that if you’re travelling on Friday that you can’t use College Green between 7am and 7pm. Just leave yourself plenty of time if you are travelling across the city and you will be fine.
Sunday: If you’re staying overnight in Dublin, be aware that the Ironman 70.3 is happening in Dublin on Sunday 9th and there will be rolling road closures throughout the city to facilitate all those mad fit people running and cycling and swimming around the place. All details can be found on their website here.
Podcast: Check out the Mayo News Quarter-final preview podcast – always well worth a listen before (and after) a big game – link embedded below.
Wavelength Video Launch: Local band Wavelength after their recent video recording sessions around the county are releasing their “Seven Mayo Finals” song & video in the Upper Deck, Crossmolina tonight (Thursday) at 9:30pm. All proceeds to Crumlin Children’s Hospital.
On the day:
Get your message on the big screen in Croke Park.
The GAA are providing the usual entertainment features including the half time interval act. Because Croke Park will be full of culchies Marty Mone will be performing his massive hit single ‘Hit the Diff’ at half time during the Monaghan and Tyrone game. (No, we don’t know what it means either but the Farmer’s Journal has kindly provided a glossary of terms for the less tractor literate among us.)
So here we are for 5 years running – in an All-Ireland Quarter Final. But this time we have an added bonus – our juniors are contesting for All-Ireland glory against Kerry at 2pm. Any day your county plays an All-Ireland Final in Croke Park is special, so make sure you come early and bring your colour and your voiceboxes. You’ll have plenty of time during the Monaghan-Tyrone game to relax them for the senior lads.
Best of luck to our two squads and safe travels to everybody making their way to Croke Park!
Well here we are again, and not before time! The Championship is of course what we all live for, but jaysus, the breaks between games can feel like decades rather than weeks. But anyway it’s Connacht Final weekend again, and as usual the crew at Club ’51 have pulled together (nearly) everything you need to know (and loads of stuff you probably don’t) before you pack the sandwiches and rain gear and head for the Drive for Five in the Hyde.
Programme cover for the Big Game via (@ConnachtGAA)
Throw-in is at 4pm. We are playing Sligo. We are going for our fifth Connacht title in a row, for the second time in our history, a feat we have not managed for over 100 years. But you knew all that already. The minor game between Sligo and Galway throws in at 2pm. If the thrashing Galway doled out to our boys is anything to go by, Sligo will want to be on top form, cos the men in maroon are gooood. This will be worth getting in early for.
We were going to write a small ode to Dr. Hyde Park here, but we didn’t, because none of us could think of a single good thing to say about the place. Apart from the fact that the graveyard in the next field is our favourite part. Anyway, we’re going to the Hyde, which despite being only the third-best ground available, it is by far the best choice to promote harmony among all three sets of supporters, who will unite in shared misery while standing in the lengthy queues for the portaloos.
(Of course this is tongue in cheek, because logistically the venue probably does make more sense than Galway (we won’t mention our own all-seater stadium with excellent access lying idle), but on that note, it’s worth mentioning that on foot of a number of queries we got here from Mayo supporters, we emailed Connacht GAA last week with what we thought were some fairly reasonable questions about how exactly the venue for the game was decided, why season ticket holders could not be accommodated this year, what work had been done in Hyde Park to rendering it safe for the game and why no stand tickets were available for public purchase. Needless to say, we’re still waiting for a reply. Sorry about that folks. But the main thing now is that there is a big game to be won, so on we trot.)
Just to note that if you’re a season ticket holder, you will not have a seat in the stand this time, so bring waterproof clothing and sunblock (it is 372 times more likely to rain over Hyde Park than it is over the rest of Roscommon, but you’ll still get sunburnt) and if you have a delicate backside, bring a cushion for the concrete slab you’ll be sitting on. If you’re lucky enough to have a stand ticket, try not to be too smug. If you’re on the terraces, bring a brolly and a canoe. Oh, and no matter where you are sitting, it’d be no harm to stick a bog roll in your bag, just in case. But the craic will be mighty, which is the main thing.
Gates open at 1pm on Sunday.
IMPORTANT INFORMATION ALERT! Holders of tickets for the stand and the seated area will ONLY be permitted to enter Dr Hyde Park from the entrance on the Golf Links Road. PLEASE SHARE THIS INFORMATION WITH FAMILY AND FRIENDS IN ADVANCE.
Map via @MayoGAA
Tickets are in short supply, but we are giving away two tickets to the Connacht final with thanks to Elverys – head on over to our Facebook page to enter. Be quick – entry closes at lunchtime tomorrow!
Use public transport if you can. Roscommon Town, in fairness to it is well serviced by bus and train. Be sure and wave as you pass to all the Rossies sadly looking out their windows at the happy Mayo, Sligo and Galway fans making their way to Dr. Hyde Park. But the thought of that All-Ireland they are going to win soon will no doubt be some consolation. (We know, we’re going to hell. See you there.)
Irish Rail are putting on an additional service from Westport to accommodate supporters travelling to the match. If you’re from near Ballina or Foxford, you’ll have to get the regular train and spend an hour waiting for the connection in Manulla junction. The train will serve all Mayo stops before arriving in Ros.
Patrons are advised to book online as priority will be given to online bookings.
From Mayo: To book a seat from Keel, Achill Sound, Mulranny or Newport phone Michael on 0857689844. The bus departs from lovely Keel at 10am.
NOTE: If anyone knows of any other bus services departing from elsewhere in the county, please let us know and we’ll add them in.
UPDATE: From Dublin: We’ve been told that The Premier Coaches service due to leave from Central Bank at 10.30am) and Liffey Valley at 10.45am) has been cancelled due to a lack of demand.
If you’re driving, leaveearly to avail of parking facilities and to avoid unnecessary swearing while stuck in traffic.
Those of you travelling from the Sligo direction are advised to travel to Dr Hyde Park via the N4 to Carrick on Shannon, R368 to Strokestown via Elphin, N5 eastbound to Scramogue Cross turning right on the R371 for Ballyleague /Lanesboro, turning right on to the N63 to Roscommon Town.
Patrons travelling from Mayo are advised to travel to Dr Hyde Park via the N5 to Tulsk , turning right at Tulsk on the N61 to Roscommon Town. Mayo Patrons may also utilise the N60 to Roscommon Town via Castlerea. All supporters are advised to allow time for traffic delays.
As always, we like to promote car pooling where possible, so if you’re stuck for a lift or if you can offer a lift please get in touch and we’ll do our best to sort you out (it’s also in the unwritten contract to contribute some petrol money!).
Two traffic diversions will be implemented as required, the first diversion will operate via the L1808/0 on the N60 to N61 with traffic turning left on to the N61 travelling to Colteige Cross turning right on to the L1805/0 crossing the N63 travelling via Kilteevan on the L1806 to the N61 at Carrageen’s for traffic travelling east. This diversion will operate in reverse for travelling west.
The second diversion will operate from the Donamon junction L1629/0 with the N60 to the junction of the L1818/0 turning left into the village of Castlecoote and into Roscommon Town via the R366. This diversion will operate in reverse for travelling west. All diversion routes will be clearly signposted.
(If you’re like us, none of this actually will mean anything to you until you get there, so we’ll just refer you to our earlier advice – leave early).
The customary car shot. We’ve a special prize for anyone with a set of wheels to rival this mean machine
According to the Garda Traffic Management Plan there are 18 unsupervised car parks available in the vicinity of Dr Hyde Park. (Approx 2000 spaces). No traffic will be permitted to leave the car park at Hyde Park for a period after the games, in order to allow foot patrons leave the area safely, and no Traffic will be permitted to enter Roscommon Town for one hour post match. Parking restrictions will operate on the N61 on the west & east bound sides of the carriageway and also on both sides of the Circular Road in its entirety. Illegally parked vehicles will be impounded, towed to a Garda compound in Roscommon town or clamped and will be liable to a fine of €130.00. Or you’ll just be mortified by the PA in Hyde Park calling out your car reg.
There are special needs parking facilities on the public streets within the environs of Dr Hyde Park. Special needs parking is also available at Dr Hyde Park Entrance via vehicle entrance 2 on the Athlone Road (N61).
End of Game Crowd Movement:
Due to a crowd management plan on the Athlone Road/County Home Road in the vicinity of the Dr. Hyde Park, patrons leaving the Covered Stand and seated Stand areas of the stadium are requested by the Gardaí to use routes other than Athlone Road as they depart Dr Hyde Park. This is for Health & Safety and ease of movement reasons.
If we manage the Five In A Row, leaving the venue in a conga line is optional but desirable.
The Supporters – that’s YOU
Sunday is a special day. We know it’s fair to say that Mayo supporters’ attentions might be focused on the All-Ireland series, but it’s an absolutely massive day for Sligo fans having two teams in the final and for ourselves, going for the five in a row is something to be proud of – never mind that ould “sure Connacht isn’t competitive” ráiméis; there have been games along the way that have been damn hard won – and it’s a testament to our team and management that we have managed this level of consistency. Five would be sweet!
As always, we are asking every person or at least every family to bring the colour, bring the noise and make a Sea of Green and Red. Every single person can contribute to the atmosphere by joining in a chant or bringing a flag to the game. Your effort counts!
Season ticket supporters: Club 51 will be gathering in the back row of the sideline seats right in front of the stand – if you are sitting in this area, please bring a flag to fly during the parade and join us for a bit of craic, to make some noise and to get behind the lads.
Here’s to the Five in a Row, and to more of these golden days ahead.
MAIGH EO ABÚ!
PS: Don’t forget about the pre-Connacht final hike starting from Newport tomorrow – all are welcome, and all details are here.