It’s been a quiet few days for the Mayo faithful as we’ve been basking in the warm glow of the win against the Rebels last Sunday week, but now it’s time to turn our sights towards the one we’ve all been waiting for as the Green and Red take to the capital to face Dublin in Round 6 of the Allianz National Football League. The game throws in at 7pm on Saturday 29th March, and there can be no doubt that this is the Big One, to date at least, of this year’s league campaign as we face the Boys in Blue for the first time since last year’s stinging final defeat.
Photo by Michael Maye
For those of us exiled in the Smoke, it’s a welcome break from the travels, and for those of you visiting, well, you always have a good time in the capital, don’t you?
Debate is already sizzling about this one – do Mayo need to grab this game by the scruff of the neck and take it to the Dubs, in the process laying down a strong marker for the year ahead and giving ourselves a welcome psychological boost? A win will leave us in an excellent position, with potentially a play-off spot to look forward to. Or in the grand scheme of things, does a win against the Dubs in March really mean anything, when there is a far bigger prize to play for later in the year?
Whatever your school of thought, this fixture holds all the promise of and ingredients for an epic clash, and Club ’51 will as usual be there in the thick of the action. We’ll be convening in the main bar of Jury’s Croke Park Hotel (at the back of the Hogan Stand) from late afternoon, 4.30pm or so (we like to make a day of it), everyone is welcome to come along and we look forward to seeing a good crew there.
This is a big game, and we want to make a big impact both on the pitch and off. Holding the game in Croke Park, while the obvious thing to do, ensures that this is essentially a home game for the Dubs (despite their protests) but it’s our ground too, and a ground with which we’re very familiar. Last summer, Mayo supporters brought a sea of green and red to Croke Park, and this Saturday night, we want to bring it back. We’d like to show Dublin and indeed the rest of the country that this Mayo team and its supporters are back with a bang, and that we’re in it for the long haul again this year. So if you’re making the trip east, pack a flag, or a banner and hold them high before the game, and let’s together make some noise and get behind our team on Saturday night.
After the game, as there’s a large Mayo contingent staying there, there’ll be a few drinks in the Skylon Hotel in Drumcondra. We look forward to seeing you all there!
The weekend ahead holds a veritable feast of sport, with one of the biggest days in the GAA club calendar, the AIB Club Championship Finals taking place in Croke Park on Monday (we’ll have lots more to say about that between now and then).
But before Castlebar Mitchels embark on proving themselves to be The Toughest, let’s turn our attention to the county scene, and what’s sure to be another memorable encounter. Sunday 16th March sees our first home double-header of the year with Mayo taking on Cork in the fifth round of Division 1 of the Allianz National Football League in McHale Park. Throw-in is at 2.30pm, and the game is preceded by the fourth round of Division 2B of the Allianz National Hurling League, which sees Mayo take on Wicklow at 12.45pm. We can happily confirm that the hurling clash has been moved back to McHale Park, after a decision made on Monday to move it to Tooreen (based on the weather and pitch conditions) was reversed yesterday morning.
Our position in both tables is roughly similar – mid-table, with an uncertain future – so it’s all to play for on Sunday.
In light of this, there will be no Club ’51 pre-match meet-up this weekend. We have a good excuse though – instead, we’ll be getting in early to cheer on our hurlers. We’d encourage everyone to come along and join us at 12.45pm to get behind this tremendous bunch of lads, who put a huge amount of time and effort into representing their county and are just as proud to wear the green and red as our footballers, but don’t often get a chance to play in front of a big home crowd.
So once the flags and banners have been hung, Club ’51 will be gathering in the stand (a stand which, incidentally, will be regarded with a new reverence and appreciation by anyone who spent two hours last Sunday sitting on a plank in the rain in Mullingar) to the right of the tunnel, in the now legendary area known as the Black Rectangle (see illustration). Come and join us, bring your hats, flags, scarves, headbands onesies and whatever else you’re into, and let’s start transforming McHale Park into a sea of green and red to cheer our boys onto a double victory.
Here’s also wishing our U21s the very best of luck tonight vs. Roscommon in what’s sure to be another lively encounter. See you on Sunday!
Club ’51 will be upstairs in Ulysses Bar from 11.30am – complimentary finger food available!
Sunday’s hard-fought win vs. Kerry saw Mayo ease themselves into a more comfortable position on the Allianz National Football League Division 1 table, and it’s all to play for now.
Next Sunday it’s a trip to Mullingar to take on Westmeath who, under the stewardship of Paul Bealin (of the ’95 All-Ireland winning Dublin team) are struggling to find their feet in Division 1. Fighting for survival in the top flight, Westmeath will have nothing to lose, and everything to gain, so while Mayo should in theory comfortably take the points, this fixture is by no means a foregone conclusion.
Round 4 is nearly upon us already, and without further ado let’s get the ball rolling for next weekend’s meetup. The venue is the Greville Arms Hotel on Pearse St., Mullingar, just a few minutes’ walk from the ground. Throw-in is at the slightly later time of 2.30pm this week so an extra half hour in bed. There’ll be complimentary finger food upstairs in the Ulysses Bar, courtesy of the very helpful crew in the Greville Arms. There’ll be a carvery lunch available downstairs for hungry travellers and by all accounts they do a fine cup of tea. 🙂
Club ’51 will be in situ in the Greville Arms from 11.30am or so (we like to get the best seats in the house) and for those of you driving, there is parking to the rear of the hotel, there’s a public car park beside it (free on Sundays) and on-street parking.
Club ’51 inside the ground
On Sunday, we’d really like to try and get Club ’51 together inside the ground as well as out – after all, that’s what Club ’51 is all about! – and the more of us there are in one spot, the more solid the support. With that in mind, we’ll be congregating in the reception area at 1.50pm to make our way to the ground in plenty of time, and we’d love you to join us. At away games we tend to locate ourselves in the same area of the stand, with the tunnel immediately to our left, so if you don’t make the meet-up, you’ll find us there.
Safe trip to all of you making the journey and we’ll see you there on the day.
Anyone interested in car pooling – either looking for or offering a lift to Mullingar on Sunday – if you’ve signed up as a member of the site, head here. If you can’t access this, drop us a line and we’ll sort you out.
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Throw-in for Westmeath v Mayo in the second round of the Allianz National Football league is at the slightly later time of 2.30pm on Sunday in Cusack Park, Mullingar, and Club ’51 will be on location in the Greville Arms, Pearse St., from 11.30am.
If anyone has a bit of room and is willing to offer a lift on Sunday, drop a comment with your location and travel plans below – I’ll be leaving Dublin early myself if anyone needs a seat. No Garth Brooks this time sadly – the radio’s on strike.
Similarly, if you’re stuck for a seat or just don’t fancy the drive, and are willing to contribute a few quid towards petrol, then it’s car pooling to the rescue – get posting below. Safe travels!
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!