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.
Welcoming long-time Mayo GAA fan and one of the most dedicated supporters we’ve ever met, Clíona O’Gara from Charlestown to the Club ’51 hot seat. Cliona sums up below how most of us feel when it comes to following the team, through thick and thin, from winter to summer.
There are days when being a Mayo GAA fan seems like the ultimate punishment for something you thought you didn’t deserve. Those moments after an All-Ireland final defeat when you feel like you’ve done something horrendous in another life to feel such gut-wrenching pain and heartache. That horrible pain you get when looking around Croke Park at the opposition’s fans celebrating, and thinking “this can’t be happening again”. Facing that dreadful journey down the motorway, seeing car flags on the road ahead, meeting other MO reg cars at the toll and everyone giving a sympathetic smile to everyone else. Stopping in Supermac’s in Longford, meeting more grieving fans and dissecting every ounce of the game with a complete stranger. Getting home, torturing yourself by watching the Sunday Game and going to bed thinking of what could have been.
But even though being a Mayo fan has carried heartache on the third Sunday in September, I wouldn’t give it up for the world. We have a lot more good days than bad. I love the feeling when waking up on a cold, January Sunday morning and heading for an FBD game in Ballyhaunis or Ballinlough dressed from head to toe in your winter woollies. You look around and spot the usual 20 people that you know you’re gonna see at the rest of the games in every part of the country. You soon forget about the previous year and what might have been, and focus on what might be, and the blood starts pumping for a new season. The league flies by and before we know it, were wearing short sleeves and anticipating the championship. There’s no feeling like going to a championship game. Hearing the roars of the fans, feeling the shivers run down your spine when the National Anthem is playing, seeing those fans that have come late and cursing them for standing in front of you, but most importantly being there. Being there to watch your team, your county, your lads that you feel like you know personally from following them on twitter to Croker.
Yes, not every day is a good one being a Mayo GAA fan but the good ones are nothing short of great. No, we haven’t landed that ultimate prize,; no, we haven’t seen our boys walk the Hogan stand and lift that cup we desire so much, but we will. In the meantime, we continue to get behind the team that has given us so many hours of enjoyment and entertainment. Mayo are very close to landing that prize and there will be a time when that final whistle will go in Croke Park and we will be All Ireland Senior Champions. We will experience that feeling that I’m pretty sure compares with nothing else for a GAA fan. We will cheer down the motorway, we will forget about our chips in Longford so we can get to Castlebar as quickly as possible and most of all, the journey of heartache over the years will all be forgotten.We won’t hold any grudges.
2014 may just be that year. Maybe.
Connacht Final weekend is upon us, and the build-up has started in earnest, now that both teams have been named. Our fate is our hands now as we face into the not-unappealing challenge of making it a historic four-in-a-row in Connacht. The weekend anticipation is starting to build nicely at this point and no doubt the roads will be busy tonight with Mayo folks making the pilgrimage to the west – if you’re on the road or in the air, take it handy and be safe!
In the meantime, Club ’51 held their inaugural charity quiz last night, July 10th in Coady’s Bar, Castlebar. We had a fantastic turnout, and on behalf of the Club ’51 team, we want to say a massive THANK YOU to everyone who came out and supported our two fantastic charities. We had a huge 16 tables, totaling 64 people, who took part on the night. We are delighted to announce that we raised a grand total of €1072.30, meaning that Irish Motor Neurone Disease Association and Raynaud’s & Scleroderma Ireland will both benefit to the tune of €537 each.
Congrats to our lovely winners, the No Namers, who won the battle for top spot and left with a voucher and an exclusive Club ’51 trophy each.
Our worthy winners!
Irish people have consistently proven themselves to be incredibly generous when it comes to supporting good causes, and Mayo is certainly no exception – we couldn’t have made a success of the night without the support we received from local businesses and individuals (who in turn we’d urge you to support). In particular, we would like to acknowledge the following:
- Cafe Rua, Castlebar, for their lovely hamper (we’re still drooling)
- The McWilliam Park Hotel, Claremorris for donating dinner for two
- Helena Chocolates, Castlebar, for afternoon tea (comes highly recommended)
- Vaughan’s Shoes, Castlebar for their voucher
- Tesco, Castlebar for their generous array of prizes
- Rosewater, Castlebar for their candle
- Flag Man Ireland for his donation of four flags and numerous car flags!
- Just Baked, Castlebar for their voucher (you’re in for a treat).
- The Royal Theatre, Castlebar for the show tickets
- Coady’s Bar, for their crystal wine glasses, and indeed for hosting the quiz and looking after us so well on the night
- M & C Castlebar for the crystal whiskey tumblers
- Presents.ie, Swinford for their lovely candle-holder
- The McTigue family from Cross
- Robert Bashford, Bangor
- Anne Cleary, Lusk, Co. Dublin
- The Flynn family, Ardagh
Thanks also to John Gleeson, our esteemed quiz-master who did a superb job on the night and had everyone scratching their heads more than once. (Dingbats, anyone?!)
We also won tickets during the week to the Connacht Final on Sunday, which we offered as a raffle prize – these were very kindly donated back to us by the prizewinner, Declan O’Connor, for auction. The tickets went for a grand total of €80, bought by Joe Togher. (Incidentally, we’d also like to thank eircom GAA for throwing in an extra set of tickets for the Sligo game when they heard that the prize was going to charity. We even managed to give them away as a prize to a Sligo man!)
We’re hoping to bring the Club ’51 quiz night on the road over the coming months, so keep an eye out for us! In the meantime, thank you once again for your warm support and generosity and we hope you enjoyed the night as much as we did.
Now, to the important business of the weekend … bringing the JJ Nestor Cup home where it belongs for a fourth consecutive year. Don’t forget to bring your flags!
Maigh Eo Abú!
When Galway disposed of a poor Sligo outfit the weekend before last, it was Sky Sports first time showing a Gaelic football match. I was closely following the reaction on the twitter machine as the game went on. The British audience seemed nonplussed by the game, whereas the previous week they were enthralled with the hurling.
I always thought this could be the way at the outset, but I’m sure the football will improve and excite our new audiences across the water before the summer is out. Galway won the game with ease in the end and as a result of this victory; they have earned the right to face Mayo in Elverys McHale Park on Sunday 13th July where both sides will do battle for the Nestor Cup.
A Connacht Final against Galway, it does not get any bigger than that folks! The fact that Mayo are going for their 4th in a row will also be motivation for our opposition. Whenever these two teams meet in championship, more often than not there is only a kick of the ball in it. Mayo blew Galway into smidirini last year and Galway will be looking for revenge.
The Galway midfield were made to look good by Sligo, who continued to kick the ball long and straight down the middle even though it was coming back with interest. I am certain James Horan will have watched this and will instruct Robbie to take evasive action if necessary. Having said that, I feel our midfield will have enough to win that particular battle. Aidan O’Shea should be aiming to get back to last years high standards where he was touted as Footballer Of The Year going into the final, with his brother again being the unsung hero grafting away in midfield.
Our backs were magnificent against Roscommon. I lost count of the number or times we turned over possession. Tom Cunniffe and Caff were masterful. Boyler was his usual combative self. Donal Vaughan didn’t bring the shooting boots but worked hard and I’m sure Lee Keegan (for me best wing back in the game at the minute) will be back to himself the next day after a very, very rare off day.
Up front will be interesting. I wonder will James stick with the team that started or will he reward those who made such an impact against Roscommon? I’m assuming Andy is fit to play, having come on for Ballaghadereen recently and by all accounts had a great game. What I would like to see is space up front – our lads undoubtedly have the stuff to do it, it just feels at times our attacking plays can actually end up restricting the space for us to attack. Once upon a time I was a right corner forward. I had one particular teammate who told me before games that his main aim when he got the ball was to feed me, that as soon as he got on the ball I was to be moving for a pass from him. I was small enough but I thrived on knowing if I made a run then 9 times out of 10 the centre forward was looking for me. Whoever plays CHF and in the corner forward position should be sitting down hatching plans to terrorise Galway. Clarity of role and effective communication is essential.
As for us folk on the terraces and in the stands, it was noticeable the support given to the team by the Mayo supporters against Roscommon when they were three down with ten minutes to go. I’m sure the team appreciated that and more of the same will be needed on the day. We need to be the 16th man to help our boys drive on to a wonderful 4th Connacht title in a row. See you on the 13th and as always with Club ’51 the message is a simple one. BRING A FLAG AND BRING YOUR VOICE! Mayo forever!!
TrevorFollow me on Twitter: @trevornaughton
Photo: Michael Maye
On Thursday 10th July, just 3 days before our lads attempt to make history with a 4th Connacht title on the trot against the auld enemy, we’ll be hosting a charity quiz night in aid of a couple of very worthy causes. Our very first quiz night will be taking place in Coady’s Bar, Linenhall Street, Castlebar at 8pm.
On the night, we’ll be contributing to two great charities: Raynaud’s and Scleroderma Ireland and the Irish Motor Neurone Disease Association. We will be posting up more info on both of these charities over the next couple of days but in the meantime you can find out all you need to know on the two links above.
We’ll be hoping to have some fun on the night too. Coady’s, being the great hosts they are, will be providing finger food, and will also be linking their TVs to our YouTube account so we can all reminisce over good times gone by by watching our classic videos, courtesy of the very patient Ronan McHale (or MacHale as he prefers).
The price of entry is €40 per table (team of 4) and we’ll be giving out a variety of great quiz and raffle prizes on the night.
So get your best Quiz Underpants ready and mark the date your diary. We’ll see you all in Coady’s!
If anyone would like to contribute to the night by donating a spot prize, doing some corrections or being our chief iPhone watchdog, give us a bell!