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, leave early 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.
We know the Mayo seniors will be fighting fit for the Connacht Final on July 19th, but what about you?
If you fancy stretching the legs, getting some fresh air and doing some hiking in one of Mayo’s most scenic areas, we have just the thing for you.
A group of Mayo people are planning a climb of Bengorm in the Nephin Beg range with an experienced local guide the day before this year’s Connacht Final. In what is now becoming a time-honoured tradition on mountains around the county (and beyond) before big games, they will plant a Mayo flag at the summit to support the ‘Drive for Five’.
That’s one hell of a flag … (Pic: @ChelsSince1970)
The climb is part of a plan to develop a new Mayo Walking Group, and over the coming months the new group will seek to attract people from all over Ireland to walk and climb in the beautiful surroundings of Mayo.
Anyone interested in joining the hike is welcome to turn up on the day.
Arrangements as follows:
- The group will meet in Kelly’s Kitchen in Newport at 11am on Saturday 18th July, leaving for Bengorm at approximately 11.20am. There will be short drive to the start point, but if you don’t have a car, there will be transport provided to and from Newport.
- There will be an experienced local guide present
- There is no need to register and anyone interested can just show up on the morning.
- There is no cost involved.
- Bring everything you would need – good boots, waterproofs, suncream, lunch, water etcc – for a long hike. There will be no walking equipment provided on the day.
Participants are advised that the hike is a four-hour round trip, and will be challenging, but if you are reasonably fit, you will be well able for it. If the weather isn’t great, there is a back-up walk arranged – called the Letterkeen loop, which is enjoyable in any kind of weather.
Any queries, please give us a shout here on the page or on Facebook or Twitter and we’ll put you in touch with the organisers.
Hope to see a few of you there!
It’s nearly time, it’s nearly time! Has 10 weeks ever felt so long? But finally the Mayo team has been named and we are just 48 hours from throw-in in the 2015 Connacht Senior Football Championship.
Before you start decorating the car, making the sandwiches and ironing the jersey for Galway v Mayo 2015, here is your customary list of Things Worth Knowing Before You Leave The House, courtesy of Club ’51.
First things first – Our Hurlers Need You!
The football is what we’re all talking about, but our senior hurlers are also playing on Sunday, in an absolutely crucial game as they take on Roscommon in the Nicky Rackard/Christy Ring promotion/relegation play-off before the football. If we win, we stay in the Christy Ring, if Roscommon win, we go down. This is a huge game for our hurlers, who are lining out without one of their best players, Keith Higgins who is of course captaining the footballers.
UPDATE: Throw-in is at 1.30pm (not 1.45pm as previously thought) in Pearse Stadium – let’s try and get a decent crowd in there to get behind our lads who put in a serious amount of effort every year with limited resources and support to wear the Green and Red. (And there is the added bonus of a prospective win over the Rossies – never a bad thing, right?)
Pearse Stadium isn’t the biggest in the world, so if you haven’t got your hands on tickets yet, it might not be a bad plan to do so in advance. The stand is sold out, but terrace tickets are still available on Tickets.ie, and in selected Centra and Supervalu outlets around the county. All ticketing details are on the Connacht GAA website here. There will also be tickets available at the gate, but get there early.
The Night Before
For those of you making a weekend of it (or indeed those of you exiled in the City of the Tribes) the Mayo Association Galway are holding a social event on Saturday evening in Ward’s Hotel, Lwr. Salthill, Galway, throwing in at 8.30pm.
According to P.J. King, Chairperson, Muintir Mhaigh Eo Gaillimh:
“It will be a great opportunity to catch up with old friends and a chance to meet up with some former Mayo GAA greats who, will be recalling past battles and giving their opinion on next week’s contest.”
Host for the night will be proprietor of Ward’s Hotel and legendary Moygownagh man, Anthony Finnerty, who will be busy on the barbeque for the evening. Come prepared or a late night and an early morning!
Getting There And Parking
Make no mistake about it, driving and parking on matchday in Salthill is a bit of a dose. Here are some ways you can avoid the headaches of parking and tailbacks.
- Arrive early and go to the hurling. (See above.)
- Use the Park and Ride services. Galway County GAA are operating this service once again from Carnmore Airport Carpark, starting at 12 noon and will run every half hour. The return costs are €4 per Adult and €3 per Child, with a Family Bus Ticket for two parents and two children (under 16) at €10. Those buses will travel on the City Bus Lanes. Patrons will be dropped off at the Western Distributor Roundabout, within walking distance of Pearse Stadium and collected back at the Roundabout after the Football Game, from 5.30 p.m.
- Car Parks: Coláiste Éinde on Threadneedle Road, St. Mary’s College on St. Mary’s Road, the Galway Technical Institute on Fr. Griffin Road, are all within walking distance of Pearse Stadium. Various other public and private carparks are also available, throughout the city and are adjacent to the public bus services to Salthill.
- Bus Eireann are running their regular City Sunday service, from outside the AIB Bank, Eyre Square, commencing at 10am. Passengers wishing to travel from the east side of the city can use the Bus Eireann regular 409 Parkmore service, which operates every 30 minutes on Sundays, from Parkmore via Dublin Road. It can be boarded at all bus stops along the Dublin Road, from the Castlegar Community Centre into Eyre Square, for connection to the Salthill buses.
- Walk the Prom with Mindspace Mayo. As part of the Mayo GAA collaboration with the HSE’s #LittleThings campaign, why not join the 2.5km walk along the Prom, leaving from the Claddagh Hall at 1pm to Pearse Stadium? Leave your car in town, get some fresh air and exercise and guess what? You’ll be there just in time for the hurling!
- The Radisson Blu Hotel are offering free parking for the day to anyone who has lunch in the hotel beforehand. You can contact them on 091538300.
- There will be some road closures in place, including Dr. Mannix Road in Salthill near the ground (we’ll update this post with more info when we have it).
Club ’51 Meet-Up
We know this is the part you’ve all been waiting for, don’t deny it. In fairness, it’s the best part of the day really.
Club ’51 will be doing what most other Mayo supporters in Salthill will be doing and congregating at Ward’s Hotel on Sunday morning before the games. We’ll be there from about 12pm so if you’re about, be sure and call in for the chats and the craic. More than likely, we’ll be found there afterwards too, hopefully celebrating an emphatic victory, as opposed to drowning our sorrows.
Ward’s Hotel is approximately 15 minutes’ walk from Pearse Stadium:
Discounts on the Day
We have it on good authority that a number of restaurants, shops, cafés and bars will be offering discounts on Sunday from 12pm, so keep your eyes peeled. We’ll add any details here as we get them.
Do not do what we did in Salthill in 2009. Just do not. The weather is promised good, so lash on the Factor 30 for the love of god. You don’t want to end up looking like this lad, do you?
Bring Your Flags
We can’t say this enough! There is nothing to beat the colour and atmosphere you’ll get with flags and banners and the Mayo Roar on championship day.
The Galway supporter’s club is giving out free Galway flags outside Pearse Stadium on Sunday.We’d love to do that, but we don’t have the resources so please bring your own flags on Sunday and let’s TURN PEARSE GREEN AND RED.
Keep an eye out for these guys on your travels. Galway 2020 is the group behind the campaign to get Galway to be the designated European Capital of Culture in 2020. As you’d expect, with such a strong Mayo contingent in the city, there’s a strong Mayo presence in the team involved in putting together the bid. In an effort to get the West of Ireland involved, they will be out on the streets on Sunday promoting their #IBackGalway campaign. Be sure and say hello. Mind you, this could get confusing … remember, on Sunday, until 5.30pm you are really only backing MAYO.
Enjoy The Day!
We don’t need to tell you this, twice, we’re sure. Maigh Eo Abú!
For a while now, the topic of fundraising for Mayo GAA and in particular for the teams (as opposed to Servicing The Debt) has been a hot topic among supporters. Running a county team is not cheap, and in this era of near-professionalism it costs upwards of a whopping €10k per week to cover the costs of training the Mayo senior team (think gear, food, equipment, expenses, medical equipment etc.). It’s fair to say however that there is ample goodwill out there when it comes to supporting both our footballers and hurlers in their pursuit of success.
Keith Higgins, Aidan O’Shea and Cillian O’Connor launch the Mayo Teams Training and Welfare Lotto. (Photo: SmartLotto.ie)
Using Smart Lotto (a new, Mayo-based company offering online lotto services to GAA clubs), a number of the Mayo players in the last few days have launched The Mayo Teams Training & Welfare Lotto, a weekly online lotto game that can be played directly from the Mayo GAA website. The minimum play is €2, and you can play multiple lines or for a number of weeks at a time. All funds raised go directly towards the training and welfare of the Mayo footballers and hurlers, from minor level upwards, and will not be channelled towards either running Mayo GAA itself or paying the MacHale Park debt. We don’t have a breakdown of how this will be divided out by code or by level, or whether it will affect the funding structure already in place, but but will keep you posted with extra information as soon as it becomes available. Obviously, our debt to Croke Park still needs to be serviced, but it appears that the revised terms of the recent deal allow ringfencing of revenue streams for player welfare where they didn’t seem to previously, and this can only be a welcome development.
So for anyone who is anxious to support the Mayo GAA effort on a financial level, you now have another means of contributing, knowing that your money will be going to help the lads on the pitch access the best possible resources in their quests.
To play the Mayo GAA Lotto, log onto the Mayo GAA website, and scroll down to the Lotto widget on the left hand side. And who knows, you might even win a few quid!
More details on The Mayo News website here.
Club 51 welcomes Galway fan Francis Creaven onto the site to give his view of our famous rivalry.
I must make this clear from the start. I do not like Mayo Football.
My experiences with the Green & Red have largely been negative. Games we should have won, disasters we should have avoided, supporters who weren’t very gracious in victory. For me, Mayo typify everything your average sporting rival should. Though, as I grow older, my feelings for the antagonist and my neighbours is pacifying ever so slightly. Maybe it was the time I spent working in Mayo and the people within Mayo GAA I met. There a number of honest decent Mayo fans I’ve come across, who I would not begrudge All-Ireland success. Unfortunately I have met many more that prompt reactions of stifled laughter whenever Mayo lose.
Stifled laughter is something I can seldom enjoy anymore as a Galway fan when it comes to Mayo these days. The promised land of an All-Ireland success is a long way away. And we can’t even solace ourselves with a victory over the old enemy. While we are left to navigate through treacherous qualifiers, Mayo are a regular fixture in the semi-finals at the very least. While the ultimate prize still eludes them, right now I wouldn’t mind travelling to Croke Park more often. I’d be grateful to see us win a bloody championship game there sometime soon. Watching Mayo in the latter stages isn’t easy. Usually it is at the expense of us, or in our absence. And there’s the terrifying prospect that one year, the cards will all fall into place, and they will win an All-Ireland Final. That prospect doesn’t enamour many Galway fans I imagine. I was once getting a haircut in my hometown of Tuam when I overheard the person next to me discussing Mayo’s progress in the Championship one year. He was jokingly asked “Imagine if they won it?” to which he said “Jesus! we would have to emigrate if they did!”
Francis will be getting the first one of these after Mayo wins Sam
Emigration would be a possibility for me, though that’s more because this country is still reeling from recession more than the thought of Mayo reaching the Promised Land. Yet surely the county itself will shut down for a good 6-8 months if they do win an All-Ireland? Mayo supporters are nothing if not vocal. The sheer desire, the lust to attain that Holy Grail is clearly evident in their eyes. And it’s the inability to control that emotion, as large as it is, why you have individuals like Mr. Barrett running onto the pitch to confront officials. Taking that into account, imagine the cathartic experiences that would ensue when a Mayo man other than John O’Mahony lifts the Sam Maguire in Croke Park.
That prospect is one thing that bothers me, the other is the neutrals opinion that wouldn’t you love to see Mayo win an All-Ireland? I have seen this so often and I can’t stand it. Sure, Mayo fans would love it and that’s grand but me? No! Why should I? I’ve grown up regarding Mayo as my greatest rivals. The one team I just love to see us beat year after year. The fixture that stokes so much passion in the build-up to throw in, the opposition that raises your game, raises your voice on the stands. And people think I can suddenly forget all of that when it suits. Mayo don’t deserve to win an All-Ireland because they have lost seven since 1951. Galway have lost as many finals in football & hurling in the same time period. Do we deserve to win one as well? It is something that came up recently when I witnessed my neighbouring parish and fierce club rivals Corofin saunter their way to their 2nd All-Ireland Senior Club title. I don’t have this switch inside my head that automatically makes it OK for me to support someone that any other time I’d want to lose.
Now reading all of that will make you wonder what kind of bitter deluded resentful Galway football supporter am I? Let me re-assure you I am nowhere near as bad as you think. The likes of Corofin & Mayo can do just fine without my support because they are excellent teams in their own right. I am in no state of denial over their ability and their achievements. Corofin have been the standard bearers of Galway club football for some time, the title of being the best team in Ireland is no more than they deserve. And there is no fluke, stroke of luck or miracle that has seen Mayo win four Connacht titles in a row. They are without doubt one of the best teams in the country in recent years. Their exploits and level of performance is the standard the rest of us in the province are striving to match. Unfortunately, Galway have given them nothing to worry about in recent years.
Count ’em Francis
As a devoted follower of the Irish Soccer Team, I am often left cursing the fact I was born in 1991 and thus, missed the glory days of Italia 90 and Jackie Charlton etc. However, with Galway football, the timing could not have been more perfect. The exploits of the late 90’s and early 00’s inspired a passion inside me that will stay with me until I croak it. I can even gloss over the fact that brilliant side came to fruition under the leadership of a Mayo man. As bad as recent times have been, looking back on that time period eases the heartbreak inside, and reminds me why I will never stop following the Maroon & White.
I can vividly recall watching the opening round of the 1998 Connacht Championship at home. The importance of this game and what was at stake was huge. Mayo coming off the back of two consecutive All-Ireland final appearances. A young Galway side full of potential. A full house at McHale Park. A straight knockout tie that defined the summer. All of this on the 24th May. Could you imagine telling Donegal or Tyrone three weeks ago that there would be no second chances? Could you imagine the tension surrounding that game if there was no back-door? For talented players such as Ciaran McDonald and Maurice Sheridan, they only had 70 minutes playing time that summer. To this day, I don’t think there is nothing more beautiful than the sight of a shot hitting the underside of a crossbar and going in. It is for that reason alone, I idolised Derek Savage more than our local hero Ja Fallon during that summer. And it was experienced players like Ja and the free-taking of Niall Finnegan that drove Galway to victory. The sheer magnitude of the win would dawn on me many years later. The fact we went to Castlebar and defeated twice All-Ireland Finalists in such a manner could not have been a greater catalyst for the journey that followed.
Two years ago, I jokingly referred to the upcoming Connacht Football Quarter Final as the “Scorcher By The Seaside”. Ultimately, the only thing that was scorched that day was our backsides. I have ignored reflection on that game until I started this piece and it hasn’t been pleasant. Nothing went right for us on the day, our deficiencies were ruthlessly exposed, and the weather wasn’t even nice! I usually abhor leaving a game early but my resistance was finally broken when the amount of injury time was announced. My father and I decided we had enough. As we were leaving Pearse Stadium, a huge roar went up as Andy Moran had scored a fourth goal. It was chilling, I know this isn’t a horror piece I’m writing here but the goal gave a score-line an even more horrific outlook from a Galway perspective. It was a bad game I hope to never reflect on again.
Don’t look now Francis
Pearse Stadium is a contentious venue amongst Galway followers. For a number of years, my father and I didn’t go to games there. We never liked it. Maybe we were more annoyed at the fact we could no longer utilise our shortcut on the railway tracks not far from our house to reach Tuam Stadium. We could never boycott it forever, our love for Galway football was too much. Yet there are those in Tuam and its hinterlands who firmly believe all will come right again with Galway football when the Championship football returns to the ground. I will not subscribe to that notion, partly because it is sentimental nonsense that has no impact upon our fortunes. And mainly because that while Tuam Stadum has a superb pitch, the rest of the ground is in dire need of renovation to be of a suitable standard to host Championship football again.
The last two times Galway & Mayo played in Tuam in the Championship had two things in common. Mayo won both games, and they won both by a 4 point margin. In 1997, it was a beautiful day. The atmosphere around the Town Square that day is something I can still vaguely remember. Back then, I was a naive six year old who had no idea what was going on. Two years later, in 1999, I was very much aware of what was at stake. However, this time the weather was atrocious. The ground itself was packed to beyond capacity. Health & Safety went out the window for what was the biggest encounter between the two counties in a generation. A premium section consisting of two brand new row of seats were installed in the aging stand for Uachtaran Na hEireann Mary McAleese and other high ranking officials. If the occasion a year previous was huge, then this was even bigger.
The game itself was deservedly won by Mayo as the reigning champions struggled in poor conditions. My father and I were at the town end, I still don’t know how we got tickets such was the demand. Sitting to my right were four Mayo fans in particular. All young lads, all in their early twenties and all if I remember correctly, slightly inebriated. With the game slipping away from Galway late on as every Martin Mac kick-out landed into the hands of Mayo, these lads started to celebrate early. The roars and the cheers were one thing, but the incessant barging into me as they swayed from side to side was too much. When the final whistle was blown, I was inconsolable, not just at the result but the louts beside me acting like idiots. I never experienced anything like it before or since at a game. Maybe the occasion got to them. The 1999 Connacht Final has gone down in Mayo GAA folklore ever since but it left an indelible impression on an 8 year old child at the time. Mayo became my greatest rivals that day.
Francis fumes as JM is lifted high.
The following years eased my pain. Mayo never capitalised on a victory of such magnitude, losing tamely to Cork in the semi-final. Galway however bounced back to make consecutive All-Ireland Final appearances in 2000 and 2001. In the same time, Mayo crashed to provincial defeats against Sligo and more memorably, the 2001 Connacht Final to Roscommon. I think that was the only time I wanted Mayo to win, as the Rossies put us to the sword previously in the semi-final. We would get our redemption against them in the quarter-finals, and another All-Ireland would follow in September in swashbuckling fashion once again. However, if you were to tell any Galway supporter back then that our victory over Meath would be our last such triumph of any kind at Croke Park for the foreseeable future, they would laugh long and hard at your face. As long as fourteen years you wonder? Aside from not winning at Croke Park, in those fourteen years we have also witnessed defeats at the hands of Westmeath & Antrim, scraping wins against Waterford & Louth, big defeats to Tyrone & Kerry, numerous one point defeats and one absolute hammering to Mayo in Pearse Stadium. I grew up watching Galway football that was magic. And it has been nothing short of a tragedy ever since our last All-Ireland victory.
The only summer I can remember with any fondness in the last 14 years was 2008. That year, under Liam Sammon, we reverted to playing fast direct football true to Galway principles. Padraic Joyce’s switch from full forward to centre half forward was a masterstroke that allowed his undoubted talent to flourish. And this was demonstrated with a superb individual goal in the Connacht Final that year. A surging run through the heart of the Mayo defence, sending defenders the wrong way before he buried the ball into the bottom corner. Although Mayo rallied in the 2nd half, Galway surged ahead late on to win by a solitary point. Any Connacht title won in your opponent’s backyard has to be cherished and the football Galway played that day was to be cherished as well. Maybe we cherish it that bit more as it happens to be our last Connacht title to this day!
For whoever wins on the 14th June, there is the potential prospect of meeting an up and coming Roscommon side, provided they get past Sligo in the other semi-final. Connacht football is definitely on the rise with great underage success across the province in recent years. A competitive provincial championship can only enhance each respective county and their development going forward. That said, is it too soon to expect Galway to cause an upset this season? We’ve endured another inconsistent League campaign. It started off brilliantly and then fell apart. The 2nd half against Cavan in March was a nightmare to watch. A week later, my father came in the door after our defeat to Laois in Tuam and said he would never go to another Galway game again! As we both watched Galway tamely defeat Kildare in our last league game, we couldn’t help but lament that the win should have guaranteed promotion, instead of avoiding relegation.
Kevin Walsh is trying to implement a defensive discipline that doesn’t seem to exist in the average psyche of a Galway footballer. It has been one of our downfalls to in the last decade to overcome the defensive revolution that has swept the GAA. It’s not that we have to start putting 15 men behind the ball. Mayo’s tenacity & pressure in the turnover that day in Salthill two years ago was frightening to watch. Because it is something we just don’t do. Time will tell if Walsh, one of the best midfielders to ever wear the Maroon & White, will succeed in making us defensively solid, and if it will come at the expense of the talent in our forward line.
With James Horan’s departure last year, some are inclined to believe that Mayo will not continue to challenge for an All-Ireland title. I wouldn’t agree with that whatsoever. They haven’t turned into a bad team overnight. It’s a fair question to pose that given the exploits of their last four seasons, is there anything left or we haven’t seen that will keep them pushing at the top? Maybe the new management team of Noel Connolly & Pat Holmes can bring something different that evolve this Mayo side further. Admittedly I haven’t seen a lot of their games this year and while their League form has been inconsistent, it has still been at a higher standard than what we have come up against. However, one wonders what impact the two month break since their last league game will have come throw in. It will be Galway’s 3rd Championship game and that may give us an edge in the opening periods. I don’t think it will be a decisive factor however. There’s enough experience in the Mayo panel to overcome something like that.
“To Win Just Once” has become the official song of Mayo football. However, as recent years have passed, maybe we can start claim it back as our own. To put it into perspective, Michael Jackson was still alive and considering a comeback the last time Galway “bate” Mayo in the Senior Football Championship. And if we’re to mount a comeback of our own to the top table of the inter-county football, then I hope it goes better than what happened to the King Of Pop.
I’ll give Conor Mortimer one thing, he has great taste in music!
He’s bad , he’s bad , really really bad ( at spelling).
Francis has not scored a goal in a game of football since 2001 and is starting to believe only a Galway win in Croke Park will help him get his shooting boots back on.
You can follow him on @FCr_91
Mayo lose to Kildare 1-16 to 2-18
(pic : Mayo GAA)
Mayo were the stronger side in the first half playing Kildare at Ballina Stephenites today. Mayo were denied a goal from a great save by the Kildare keeper on the 20th minute. Kildare were reduced to 14 men on the 29th minute with Johnny Byrne being shown the line. Mayo with a strong wind at their backs, were ahead going into half time 1-11 to 0-05 with a superb goal from dual star Keith Higgins on the 34th minute.
Kildare were out of the blocks the quickest on the restart and proceeded to reduce the margin. Some quick points from Kildare and then 2 goals, the second on the 49th minute, saw Mayo in trouble. A penelty from Kenny Feeney for Mayo brought us back to within 1 of Kildare. Mayo only managed to score another 2 points but it was not enough to catch Kildare who were 5 ahead at that stage.
Full time score in Ballina Stephenites, Mayo 1-16 to Kildare 2-18. Mayo now go into a relegation playoff against Wicklow next weekend. Dates, times and venue is to be confirmed by Croke Park on Monday.
Match photos from the brilliant Memory Thru A Lens here:
Irish Independent match report here:
Mayo team v Kildare:
1 Donal O’Brien (Ballyhaunis); 2 Brian Hunt (Ballyhaunis); 3 Aiden Connolly (Westport); 4 Eoghan Collins (Ballyhaunis); 5 Ciaran Finn (Tooreen); 6 David Kenny (Tooreen); 7 Declan Gallagher (Westport); 8 Kieran McDermott (Ballyhaunis) 9 Padraig O’Flynn (Castlegar); 10 Fergal Boland (Tooreen); 11 Kenny Feeney (Tooreen); 12 Austin Lyons (Ballyhaunis); 13 Stephen Hoban (Ballyhaunis); 14 Sean Regan (Ballina Stephenites); 15 Darren McTigue (Castlebar Mitchels).
The Christy Ring Quarter Finals times & venues will be confirmed on Monday. Pairings are as follows;
Q-Final : Meath v Kildare
Q-Final : London v Down