The bauld Ciaran Mac inspired us to roar at the telly
Nostalgia week continues with a view from someone living far away cross the ocean , far away o’er the foam.
The life of the Irish expatriate on the European mainland is, on the whole, a happy and fulfilling one. You have chosen to leave home in order to enjoy the opportunities afforded by a job abroad and you can enjoy the culture of your adopted country and still, thanks to low cost air travel, return home on a regular basis and also invite friends and family to visit. The script for the Irish male on most Saturdays in Europe is along the same lines in every country. Get yourself into the local Irish pub with all the English and Scots and watch as much football and rugby as the landlord can fit onto his screens. Sundays however can take a different turn. On Sunday the pub may still be full but there will be one corner TV showing the big premier league game and in the other corner, the big Irish heavyweight, the GAA.
Our brethren in the US historically have had a different experience when it comes to viewing our games. The Astra satellite shadow does not fall over the North American continent and as such they have always been reliant on service providers to ensure that they see their county men in action. Pubs all over the US welcome hung over Irishmen on a Sunday at hours ranging from 4 or 5 AM in San Francisco to 8 am on the east coast. By welcome I mean greet them with an ignorant door man demanding 25 dollars entry fee.
The down under experience is another step into dedication. I was in a pub in Melbourne at about midnight one night and an Ulster championship clash was just commencing, the place was packed and it was on every screen. How do these lads get up for work the next day?
I have been in Croke Park and Castlebar for many of Mayo’s finest days and for a few disasters as well but I remember watching us beat Tyrone in Amsterdam in 2004, just myself and a lad from Ballina whom I had just met roaring at the telly. I watched us lose to Galway in 2003 from O’reillys pub in Frankfurt. The day we beat Cork in 2011 I was in the Irish Pub in Bornheim. The famous day against Dublin in ’06 I was in the Anglo Irish pub with about 7 dubs, I simply could not afford to come home.
So folks , when you hear about lads turning up for All-Ireland finals from foreign countries I can see where you might feel aggrieved that they somehow manage to score a ticket and you did not. But don’t forget although we left home a long time ago our love for our team is just as strong as it was then. We are blessed with GAAGO this year but it was not always the case ,I know a man who took a flight in America to fly to a city in another state with a pub that was showing a Mayo game. You hear English accents and American ones as well in Croke Park when Mayo play, lads fulfilling their father’s wishes to see Mayo lift that chalice, bitten by that same bug that you yourself have. We are all the same or as they say in Thailand, “Same Same but Different”.
Mayo for Sam.
James Horan’s first game as Mayo manager was an FBD game in Castlebar in January 2011. His league managerial debut also took place in MacHale Park against Down a month later. He opened up his championship managerial career in West London on a bright afternoon which almost went down in the history books as a black day for Mayo football. Two further championship games in very bad conditions dictated that he brought his men to Croke Park in July 2011 as Connacht champions but with the tag of serious underdogs to face Cork, the All Ireland champions. That day he made nonsense of Spillane’s ranting about Connacht football’s “Junk Status”, ridiculed Brolly’s assertion that Cork would easily progress and set the tone for some historic Mayo days in Croke Park over the next 3 years. For many that is the day that the Horan era really started. Now the Horan era is surely coming to a close and we face Cork once again. This time Mayo will be installed as favourites and rightfully so. Cork were physically and mentally superior to Sligo in Saturday’s qualifier. In Sky Sports high definition each man looked taller and broader, and even more importantly than this, they had far better ideas when on the ball. Colm O’Neill dominated the game ably assisted by Paul Kerrigan. Sligo had a patch of dominance and took a fine goal in the third quarter but the game was never in doubt. Keeping Kerrigan and O’Neill quiet will no doubt be key to Sunday’s game plan. Cork now have a huge step up in the calibre of their opponents in the space of a week. They started brightly against Kerry but were unable to compete with them as the game progressed. I think the match-ups will favour the Connacht champions and while we, as Mayo supporters, will never get used to going to Croke Park as favourites, the players and management seem to have no problems with it ,judging by our wins over Down and Tyrone. Regardless of our chances of lifting the blessed chalice in September, and regardless of whether he continues in the job, we cannot doubt that James Horan’s tenure has been a great success. Let’s keep enjoying it and hope fervently that Sunday’s game will bring him one step closer to immortality.
The Route 51 flag lands in Frankfurt Germany. Route 51 branched on to the Autobahn last week as the Club ’51 flag flew proudly outside the European Central Bank. Niall Merriman from Charlestown brought the umbrella his mother Carmel made for him before the ’89 final. The Brett family, Paul , Lisa and Dylan from Castlebar are also based in Frankfurt as is Robert Bashford from Bangor. The flag will now make its way to the next destination. Keep checking in on www.mayoclub51/route-51 to see where the flag arrives to next. To date the Mayo Club 51 flag has travelled 12954.28 KM!
Niall Merriman from Charlestown, The Brett family, Paul, Lisa and Dylan from Castlebar and Robert Bashford from Bangor outside the European Central Bank in Frankfurt.
Mayo v Kerry Sunday 2nd March @ 2pm.
In my time the Convent of Mercy in Belmullet was a great school for organising retreats during the school year. These were a blessing whether you were religious, agnostic or atheist , a welcome break from learning by rote or struggling with equations. On one particular occasion one of the nuns during a break from prayer said to us “Today is the first day of the rest of your life “. Of course nowadays, with so many such clichés being shared on Facebook , being uttered in seminars or used in order to market a product, its easy to be cynical but back then, innocent young fella that I was, it struck a chord with me. I recently googled it and it is attributed to a man called Charles Dederich , an Ohioan who worked with addicts and who was involved in a cult called the Church of Synanon. Perhaps a strange man for a nun to be quoting.. or perhaps not.
Mayo entertain Kerry this Sunday in McHale Park in Castlebar , our own cult of true believers will be there in force , we too are addicts and perhaps need the help of a higher power. Club 51 will be meeting in An Sportlann before the game and we ask you come in and make yourselves known. If you like you can say “my name is Roger Milla and I am a Mayo fan”.
Mayo v Kerry 2nd February 2013 in Mc Hale Park Castlebar.
Mayo have lost their two opening games of the NFL , perhaps a draw would have been merited in St. Conleth’s Park but we got what we deserved in Omagh. Personally I am excited to see if my own townie Mikey Sweeney will get a run out. We gave a Kerry a great seeing to last year in the league and I still relish the time we beat them in the league semi-final. Sadly Colm Cooper will not be playing, any contest without him is the lesser for it.
Sunday is the first day of the rest of our year, lets beat Kerry and travel to Westmeath with the wind at our backs. Beir Bua!