So that’s it for 2014 for us. It didn’t end the way we wanted it to, but that’s the way it goes sadly. But we made some great memories, and great friends, along the way. 2014 will ultimately be a year that we look back on with great pride and fondness.
Just after the Club ’51 site made its full debut, along with our Facebook page, our lads took to the field against NUIG in a packed MacHale Park on a cold Friday night. The ball was well and truly rolling at this stage and it was followed by an unforgettable (yet completely forgettable) surprise trip to Bekan to see the lads take on IT Sligo. Quite possibly the wettest, coldest day in history?
The league starts with a cracker down in Newbridge and Club ’51’s first official meet-up took place! Later in the month our giant banner makes its debut.
A meetup in The Greville Arms in Westmeath was the highlight of March. That was followed by one hell of a soaking at the match for anyone who attended. Unfortunately, that didn’t include me. I was at home in bed listening to Mid West suffering through a dose I won’t soon forget! Picking up 2 points eased the pain.
April saw a make or break game in the league for a semi-final spot against Derry in Castlebar. We broke out the big guns for the first time for this game, which we won handsomely in the end.
We also saw the start of Route ’51, from MacHale Park to Dublin, and its first trip overseas to Edinburgh. It’s currently winging it’s way to the far east after brief stops in Germany, Canada and New York City!
New York, New York! What a trip this was. Thousands of Mayo fans descended on the Big Apple for the first round of the Connacht Championship. We can’t wait to go back!
It started off badly for me, however. I was caught in the shower of all showers for a full hour. It turned out to be the 10th wettest day in the city’s history. Local news reported that it “was wetter than that day below in Bekan.” But I managed to dry off eventually, and we had a blast, eating my weight in Twinkies and Zingers. Meeting old faces in NYC was special.
Our trip to the Hyde was wet, cold, windy and nerve-wracking. But the boys pulled through and showed some serious character. Our hurlers became Connacht Intermediate champions on the same day, just a week after bowing out of the Christy Ring Cup in the semi-final in a brilliant encounter in MacHale Park against Kerry.
Connacht Champions, once again, at both minor and senior level. A bumper crowd at MacHale Park wound back the years as we defeated the old enemy to retain the Nestor Cup for an astonishing 4th time in a row. It ended up being James’ last game in charge in Connacht, which brought his record to Played: 11 Won: 11.
Club’ 51 also hosted its first ever charity event just 3 days before with a Quiz Night in Coady’s in Castlebar. We ended up raising just over €1,000, which was split between Raynaud’s and Scleroderma Ireland and the Irish Motor Neuron Disease Association.
We also announced the winner of our Primary Schools Flags Design Competition. Chloe Courell designed this absolute corker and was presented with a BMX (a green and red one!) courtesy of Brian Cawley at Castlebar Cycle Store.
Ultimately, it spelled the end, but we found ourselves involved in 3 absolute classics against Munster giants Cork and Kerry. The game vs Cork was an absolute roller-coaster that had us right on the edge of our seats. The first game against Kerry was one of the best displays the green and red have ever produced, scoring 1-11 in 30 minutes with 14 men. We all left Croke Park absolutely bursting with pride after such a titanic effort. We even managed to get a decent close up on the Sunday Game!
As frustrating as Saturday was (we won’t go into it), it closed the curtain on another trojan effort from the lads. It also, sadly, ended the chapter that will be forever known as “The Horan Era”. It was an incredible 4-year journey of ups, downs, hoarse throats, tears (both types) and immense pride. We can’t thank James and all his boys enough for the pride they brought to our county. It also saw our minor lads bow out at the penultimate stage of the Championship at the hands of Jack O’Connor’s Kerry. They defended their Connacht crown brillianty but just came up short against Kerry. Many more days in HQ lie ahead for these lads. Well done to Enda Gilvarry and his last 2 teams for representing the green and red so well.
However, with the end of this era, we hope it will spell the start of a new one. One that, we hope, will include the growth of Mayo Club ’51. We’d like to sincerely thank everybody for the kind words, the financial contributions, the spot prizes, the plugs in the media, the guest posts, the likes, the shares, the retweets and everyone who waved our flags. But most of all we would like to thank James Horan and his team for giving us a reason to do all of this. In true Mayo fashion, you never showed the white feather. We are in no doubt that ye will be back, hungrier than ever. And we’ll be right there with you. Enjoy your break lads.
‘I am hurt but I am not slain. I’ll lay me down and bleed awhile, Then I’ll rise and fight again.’