Casting our minds back to last Sunday, what a weekend we had in Derry and what a nail-biting finish. And what a feeling heading back down the road to know we had two more points in our pocket after hanging on to secure the win. And what about that support? Not for the first time, Mayo away support outnumbered the home sides (significantly so) and the noise in the stand was fantastic.
In keeping with that theme, this Saturday sees one of the highlights in the Mayo GAA calendar as we welcome the Boys in Blue to MacHale Park for the now customary Saturday evening game under lights. It has to be said, the Dubs’ travelling army always brings a bit of fun to town, and we’re looking forward to giving them a warm Mayo welcome. We’re also looking forward to showing them that they’re not the only supporters who can generate an atmosphere!
We need you
The Club ’51 crew are starting to ramp up their efforts for the year and we’ll be putting in a special effort on Saturday night to really make MacHale Park a Mayo fortress. That means we need colour and we need noise, so this is where you come in. We need you!
Bring a flag
Mayo Fans @ Mayo v Derry. Mayo Club 51 new flags.
Mayo flags in Croke Park
On this massive occasion, we’re asking as many as possible among you to wear your colours and bring along a flag. Big flags, small flags, car flags, it doesn’t matter. Give it to the kids to wave, wave it yourself like you just don’t care! We’ll have all our flags and banners on show, the Dubs will have their hats, flags and headbands, make sure you do too.
Bring back the Mayo Roar and make some noise
When the team runs out and after the national anthem – get on your feet and roar! This is going to be one tough battle, so let’s make it a battleground. A win would be massive, so be the 16th man and get behind the lads. Do what it takes to keep the atmosphere electric- beat a drum, start a chant, throw out a few bars of the Green and Red of Mayo. Embrace the bank holiday weekend and let your hair down. Having no hair however is not an excuse to sit in the corner like a wet blanket (and we’ve seen enough of blankets lately).
Drown out the Dubs and Take the Hill
The Dubs are well able to sing when they’re winning, but we can be every bit as good at making a racket ourselves. We’ll have our work cut out for us though and will need help! We’ll be congregating this for this game on the terraces behind the Bacon Factory goal on the Sportlann side of the pitch. And all you Dublin fans are welcome too!
We’re hoping that, with some collective effort, we can turn the entire end from this:
If a group of well organised priests’ house keepers from a small, remote island off the west of Ireland can do it for an All-Priest over 75 indoor soccer grudge match , then why can’t we? Even the great Fr. Romeo Sensini couldn’t handle the pressure that day.
After the game
Because it’s a Saturday night, it’d be rude not to go for a sociable pint or two with our friends from the Pale. Join us in An Sportlann after the game and who knows where the night will take us!
MAIGH EO ABÚ!
2013 Minor Captain Stephen Coen brings the Tom Markham Cup home. Pic: Mayo GAA
While down the years, there has been much wailing and gnashing of teeth over the drought that has befallen the Mayo senior footballers when it comes to All-Ireland titles, there’s a bunch of young guns on the way up the ranks who are no stranger to the winning mindset.
The Mayo minors throw in their season this Saturday 14th March with an away game against Roscommon, and manager Enda Gilvarry and his backroom team will be no doubt eager to build on the success of his last couple of years at the helm, which has seen more than one trip to Croke Park and a very memorable trip back west with the Tom Markham Cup in 2013.
Some of the faces from that magic year are appearing in the senior panel, including captain Stephen Coen who has already made his mark on the squad. The future looks bright, but what’s it like from the point of view of those who are shaping that future?
As our marvellous minors prepare to challenge again in 2015, Club 51’s intrepid reporter Mayo Mark caught up with Enda recently to get his take on the year ahead.
Mark: Can you give us a bit of background on your GAA playing and managerial career?
Enda: I started off with Ballina Stephenites, I came up through the underage ranks there although I’m from Killala, but that’s a longer story! I won most of the county titles at the time that were available and played with some fantastic footballers who went on to play for the county. In ’85 and ’87 I was involved with the teams that won the senior championships. I played football in Boston one summer and won a Boston Championship there which I’m very proud of as it was the only time I played with one of my brothers. We come from a huge footballing family with a large involvement with Mayo football – something that I’m very proud of.
I started managing Ballina minors in 1999 and won a County “A” title. In 2003 I managed the senior team in Ballina and won the county senior title. I moved to Killala and started to manage them in 2008 where we won the county and Connacht junior titles. I stayed with Killala for a few years and became the Mayo minor selector in 2012, took over as manager at the start of 2013 and I’m still here.
That’s a pretty comprehensive CV and with plenty more in the tank?
Well please God! I don’t play golf or have any other hobby. It’s the one thing that gets me out of the house and keeps me young.
Mayo Minor Football Manager Enda Gilvarry on All-Ireland Final Day, 2013. Pic: INPHO/Lorraine O’Sullivan
Can you talk us through the highs and lows of the 2013 season?
Look, it was a fantastic experience – something I really enjoyed and looking back I think that was part and parcel of the success. As a management team we enjoyed it and I think the players enjoyed it as well and that allowed them to express themselves. It’s a special time when a group of players, managers and any support group from the county board and so on to gel.
Towards the end of the year all we had to do was hand out the jersies, the players deserve a huge amount of credit because they took a huge mantle of leadership.
Some really special characters and some really special memories.
Last year saw another Connacht Championship and a couple of great victories. Can you expand on 2014?
Yeah, Last year was another rollercoaster of a year. We tried an awful lot of players and didn’t get a steady team together until the championship. That resulted in our league position not being as good as it could have been, yet in all of those games we lost by only one or two points, and in each one felt we could have won the game. So, I always knew that there was potential within the championship group. It took us a long time to deliver on that potential but once we beat Galway in Tuam we blossomed from there.
Ultimately in the All-Ireland semi-final, Cian Hanley’s injury and a little bit of disruption through sickness in the camp maybe cost us a little bit. But we also have to remember that we came up against an extremely good Kerry team who showed in the final how strong and competitive they were.
In terms of management and coaching approach, do you have any outside inspiration or favourite coach from any code?
You’ll always get bits and pieces from everywhere. Hugely impressed with Brian Cody’s record, people like Alex Ferguson, and even the way Brendan Rodgers approached last year (with Liverpool) with their style of football and positivity and getting the best out of a limited enough squad was impressive in itself. Closer to home, our own Strength and Conditioning coach James Mitchell in is second to none.
Could you give us an insight as to what’s involved in the background to running a team like the Mayo minors?
The preparation for the Mayo minor time would start… I think I was at trials less than 3 weeks after the All-Ireland final in 2013 preparing for 2014. The U17 academy will train through most of the winter doing strength and conditioning indoors and some of those young men will progress onto the Mayo minors which starts officially on the 1st February, but a lot of background work will have gone on to prepare for that.
Once that kicks off, between our own training sessions and club underage games, travelling to senior games where minors could be playing – that’s a 5 day a week job. Then analysing videos of ourselves, videos of opposition, it really becomes a 7 day a week job and that goes on right until the end. It is a very demanding job for all of the management but not only for us – it’s also demanding on our families. Thankfully they are very accommodating on that!
In terms of the players, 16, 17, 18 years old is an important time in a young man’s life with school and so on. What kind of effort do those lads put in?
The Mayo minors celebrate after beating Roscommon in the Connacht MFC in MacHale Park, July 2014. Pic: Sportsfile
Oh, huge. Huge. We outline what’s expected of them almost on a daily basis for them to be competitive in inter-county minor football. But we are also mindful that they have their school demands, their school football demands, club demands, and most importantly a lot of them will be doing their Leaving Cert.
We find the most important thing is the structure and in many ways the Mayo minors actually helps them in that regard. With the size of the county you have some lads who leave school, come to training, go home and it’s time for bed.
That’s a huge commitment, not only from themselves but also from their family who have to buy into that.
Right, as a supporters group, we’re looking for brutal honesty here. What kind of effect can supporters have, both positive and negative, on the outcome of any game?
Those of us who were on the field in 2013 when the final whistle went and Mayo Minors were victorious, nobody can underestimate what that meant to the Mayo public and the Mayo support and the feeling that it gave us all. That group of young men know what it means to win an All-Ireland in front of 40,000 supporters. Hopefully when they get that chance again they’ll remember what it was like because they have done it in front of a packed crowd. If and when they win the seniors there will not be a better reaction. That in itself will serve as a huge memory for those young men, and some older men as well!
There’s no doubt that the tighter games we’ve had, especially against Galway, and the days in Croke Park when the seniors are there behind us, it’s a fantastic place to be and a fantastic county to represent and a fantastic support to have. One memory of 2014 was of a spontaneous pitch invasion after the Connacht Final. I don’t remember that happening before and I like to think that was a mark of the football we played in the last 10 minutes and the excitement it generated.
I don’t find any pressure from the supporters and I hope the lads don’t find any pressure. I think it’s a hugely positive thing.
There’s a huge challenge for a player to bridge the gap between minor and U21 to senior. What are the main challenges, do you think, in that regard?
If you look at the calibre of player and the condition of the Mayo Senior team at the moment, to expect a minor, or a 19 or 20 year old to step up to that level easily or quickly is unrealistic. We can only play our part to developing them to a certain extent to indoctrinate them into how important intercounty football is and the work levels that are required at that standard. Then the U21 and the senior academies take over.
You know, the expectation is there that, just because a minor All-Ireland was won, that it’s going to be easy and the players are just going to be there going forward. Without the structures being put in place – the strength and conditioning, the fitness programmes – realistic development opportunities within the senior structure and the U21 structure , those chances, like many before, are going to filter away. I like what I have heard about a group of young men being brought into a senior strength and conditioning programme as a development. I like the structures that have been put in place to monitor injuries, to recover and rehabilitate properly and the procedures in strength and conditioning to prevent injuries. I think that is hugely important and something we have tried to buy into in the minor team.
As a supporter, do you have any fond memories yourself of following the Mayo senior team?
I remember back to the late 70’s and early 80’s when winning Connacht or an All-Ireland Semi-final was beyond us. I’d go all the way back to 1989 and winning the All-Ireland semi-final. Obviously that was my first time seeing Mayo in an All-Ireland final. No more than anyone else there’s a real frustration when losing when there seems to be no apparent reason. All this stuff about curses drives me absolutely mad.
I spoke about my family history in football. That came from the ’48-’51 era and those young men who won those All-Irelands were in no way special. They were no different to ourselves, only that they had a mentality that nobody else was better than them. I have the mentality that nobody is better than Mayo and that on any given day, Mayo men can take on anyone and when circumstances are right and things go right for us we will win it.
How do you fancy our chances this year in the senior championship, and what do you think of the appointment of Noel and Pat?
I’d be very excited and delighted for Noel and Pat and I think that they will bring an awful lot of experience and stability to the Mayo team again. James Horan did a fantastic job after 4 years but it’s no harm that a new voice has come in and it might give a fresh impetus. The senior team have worked extremely hard. Pat and Noel will have to balance things with bringing in new players and balancing that with maintaining the standards that the team has set over the past number of years. There’s no doubt it’s a hard job. Success for the next year will be winning an All Ireland. Anything else… It’s a tough job that they’ve accepted.
Do you follow any other sports besides GAA?
If there was a round or oval ball and people chasing it I’d watch it. I love all sports from football to badminton. I’d even watch cricket! But I very seldom get the opportunity between work and the Mayo minors there isn’t that much time.
Enda, thanks a million for giving us your time. Before we let you go, can you give us your own sporting predictions for the year ahead?
All Ireland Hurling? Kilkenny
FA Cup? Hmmm … Man City
FAI Cup? Shamrock Rovers .. A Dublin club will win it
Rugby WC? Australia
Superbowl: Wouldn’t have a clue! Apart from the New England Patriots
Wimbledon: Murray will come back …
Thanks to Enda from all at Club ’51 and wishing the management team and of course the marvellous minors another great year ahead. We’ve had nothing but pleasure following these lads since 2013 with an All-Ireland and 2 Connacht Titles to celebrate. The Mayo minors travel to take on Roscommon in Kiltoom this Saturday at 2pm.
EDIT (REPOST): Best of luck to the lads in their first Championship outing this year as they look to join the seniors in Hyde Park on the 19th June. They play Galway at MacHale Park this Saturday evening.
A tight-knit group. The 2013 minors gather before beating Monaghan in the 2013 All-Ireland semi-final. Pic: MayoGAABlog
And We’re Off …
Finally – finally! – the countdown is almost over. It’s time to check the tyres and top up the oil in anticipation of the long trip to Killarney. It’s been a long winter – long than we’ve become accustomed to in recent years – but the competitive inter-county season is about to throw in at last. Sunday 2pm in Fitzgerald Park is the one we’ve been waiting for as Mayo travel to take on All-Ireland champions (it still sticks in the craw a bit, doesn’t it?) Kerry in their back yard. But a new year is a new year and forward we must look.
As competitive fare goes, this game is unlikely to reveal much in terms of prospects for the year ahead, due to the fact that both teams are missing a number of key players, but what’s really important is the points that are at stake. To take two points from the Kingdom from under their own roof would make for a satisfying start to the year, so Killarney here we come, and here’s hoping our old reliables and our new young guns get a good run at it and make the road home a short one.
Club ’51 will also be making the trip south to this stunning part of the country (don’t tell them we said that) and will be aiming to claim a significant proportion of Fitzgerald Stadium for the green and red. Anecdotally, it appears that the Mayo faithful are hitting the road in huge numbers this weekend, so if you’re looking for a place to lay your head, get on it ASAP otherwise you’ll be kipping in the back of the car. If you’re doing a day trip, amid warnings of unsettled weather over the next few days, be sure to plan ahead and leave in plenty of time -and arrive alive and unfrazzled. And for those of you doing the Ring of Kerry cycle on Saturday, may the wind be at your backs all the way, you mad yokes.
If this is your car, leave early. Like, tonight. (Pic: Balls.ie)
On The Day
In what is now becoming a time-honoured, revered and legendary tradition (a whole year old this weekend, in fact) Club ’51 will be assembling before the game in a local hostelry to mingle, give out about the weather and unanimously agree that Mayo is just as nice a spot as Kerry, we just don’t need to go on about it all the time. On the morning of the game, get yourselves to the Killarney Royal Hotel on College Street from 11.30am. Located only a ten-minute walk from Fitzgerald Stadium, we have it on good account that their hospitality is second to none. There is a traditional Irish lunch menu in the restaurant, or check out the bar/bistro menu where you can get bar food like soup, salads, burgers and sambos.
It’d look grand with a lick of green and red paint
Parking Near The Ground
Parking is relatively easy, as Killarney has plenty of car parts in the town centre,none of which are a lengthy walk (15-20 mins max) to the stadium. The car parks on Lewis Road or beside Killarney Public Library (on the N71) are the closest, so if you want the handier option (or if it’s raining), get in there early before the locals take all the good spots.
The Night Before
For those of you travelling down the night before, you’re in for a treat as Killarney is always a great spot for a few sociable beverages. On the Saturday evening from 9pm, some of the Mayo faithful will be convening in Tatler Jack on Plunkett St. (right in the heart of town) so do drop in if you’re feeling the bit of thirst. Tatler Jack is of course notable for featuring as it does some jerseys of the hallowed green and red, namely those of Gabriel Irwin and the mighty Willie Joe Padden. So therefore it’s practically a Mayo pub and you should feel right at home. Get practicing your “yerras” well in advance and if you meet any Kerry people on your travels be sure to assure them that we’ll barely manage to keep it kicked out to them. Nothing like getting in some mind game practice well in advance of the championship.
Last But Not Least …
That should be all you need to get you set for the weekend. Only one thing remains and that is a reminder to get behind our lads. None of us have forgotten Limerick, and if ever there was a time a team deserved a strong show of support, this is it. When our lads appear on the pitch, don’t be shy, don’t hold back but cheer for them like you’ve never cheered before. It might only be the first game in the League, but it marks the start of an another long road for this team, so let’s row in behind them and just like in Croke Park last August, be the 16th man again. Bring a flag, claim the stand and make them wonder in Kerry if they took a wrong turn and ended up on McHale Road.
And most of all stand tall and be proud of the green and red – our colours – and all they stand for as we look to the year ahead.
MAIGH EO ABÚ!
PS: A sincere thank you to our Kerry informants Caroline and Jerry for the helpful information – we won’t tell a soul!
PPS: Don’t forget your toothbrush.
Time to plan
As the dust settles on our first FBD campaign under Noel and Pat, it’s time to start looking ahead to 2015 and to the first real competitive action of the season. With that, we turn our faces towards Killarney and the first Allianz National League game against the Kerrymen who broke our hearts below in Limerick last August. The less said about that the better, and as a new era begins, we will be getting behind our lads more than ever. On that note, it’s time for a quick update on the Club ’51 front on our plans for that game and for the subsequent games in the League.
Seating groups are a good way of getting groups of supporters together in grounds with allocated seating. They were a great success last year and more and more people are either setting up or joining groups as the club grows. This year, you can use either your Croke Park or your Cairde Maigh Eo season ticket to join a seating group, and we have all the latest information and have started the list of 2015 groups in our post over here. We’ve had loads of enquiries already from people interested in joining a seating group this year, so if you already have one with vacant spaces or would like to set one up, let us know and we’ll put you in touch.
Getting To Away Games
We’ll be doing our usual car pooling posts (keep an eye on our forum here or contact us on Facebook, Twitter or email). Anyone with space in a car or a bus that needs filling over the coming weeks let us know! We’ll have information on parking etc. on the site too in due course. Don’t forget the ‘fiver for the driver’!
Your car doesn’t have to look like this, but it helps
If anyone is organising buses to Killarney for 1st February, let us know and we’ll post them here. We have one so far:
- The Sea Rod Inn, Doohoma are hoping to organise a bus – for queries contact Sean on 0851698851.
From the first meeting in the Liffey Arms, Newbridge on 2nd Feb last year to various days out in Jury’s across from Croker these were a great success last year, so looking ahead to 2015 we’ll be continuing the new tradition of picking a pre-match meeting point close to the grounds for Mayo fans to congregate before games and grab a cuppa/lunch/tipple/whatever tickles your fancy. We’ll be announcing these here the week before games and are looking for suggestions for Killarney, Cork and Derry.
Similarly, there will be a good crew making their way to away game venues the night before so what better excuse to go for a couple of scoops and psyche out the opposition fans? We’ll also be making a weekend of the Dublin game so expect some Castlebar festivities to be announced close to St. Patrick’s weekend.
Sea of Green And Red
Image: Sean Óg Cafferkey
Part of the inspiration for Club ’51 came from these guys on Facebook who joined forces with us and were instrumental in making the Mayo support as loud and colourful as it was in 2014. We’re aiming for more of the same in 2015 and starting as we mean to go on. Last year Mayo revived an old tradition and we saw a huge increase in the number of flags at matches. Nowhere was it more evident than in the video below from the first Kerry game (scroll to 1.51). We want recreate the incredible atmosphere of that game many times again this year and you can play your part. If every household brings a flag, think of the spectacle we’ll create! So up you get into that attic and dig out the flags.
We have a number of Club ’51 flags, and if you’ve seen them in the grounds and want to get your hands on one of your own all the information you need is here.
We’ll also be attempting to do the following over the coming months:
- Organising more charity events after the success of our inaugural table quiz last year
- More competitions – watch this space
- Some more displays. This could be in the form of stick flags, banners or any other sort of visual display. We are eager to get people’s ideas on this so please don’t be shy, and if you’re feeling creative don’t hesitate to make your own flags or banners.
‘Everything’s Coming Up Mayo’ by Lorraine Kelly and Mike Kelly
How You Can Get Involved
Making Club ’51 a success takes time and effort, but it’s also great fun and the more people involved, the better. So if there’s anything you’d like to get involved with, or if you feel you can lend some expertise, we’d love to hear from you. Be that writing some guest posts, helping us on our social media sites, volunteering at our table quizzes or sponsoring some competition or quiz prizes, we’d be delighted to welcome you on board.
Bring your own flags, but we are also looking for 4-5 people to become flag custodians and wave our flags on match days. We have a good few people on this front but still have some that need a good, caring home with regular matchgoers – and an energetic arm!
That’s it for now …
.. but keep an eye out for updates, and spread the word ( you can share our posts on Facebook, retweet us, get our logo tattooed on your face, or just tell people you meet).
And most importantly, get out those flags, warm up the vocal cords and play your part in becoming the 16th man this year.
Maigh Eo Abú!