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.
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.
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.