It’s been a quiet week on the Mayo GAA front. With all the recent drama, it’s probably no harm, and it feels like everyone is keeping their heads down and behaving themselves … although we get the feeling that’s only temporary … We ourselves have been taking a bit of time out, but are starting to resurface and plan for 2015. Watch this space for updates!
One of the great joys that comes with the end of the All-Ireland Championship is the ramping up of the club championships. Last Sunday saw Castlebar Mitchels beat Garrymore, and Ballintubber beat Knockmore in the Treanlaur Catering Senior Football Championship to set up another South Mayo final on 19th October. The day was notable in particular for the eleven-goal spectacle that was the latter game, which saw the four O’Connor brothers of Ballintubber, Padraig, Ruaidhri, Diarmuid and Cillian score six goals between them for their club (the latter with a hat-trick), thus sealing their inclusion in GAA table quiz questions for decades to come.
(Photo: Michael McLaughlin in The Mayo News)
Now that the Sunday Game is over, if you want a football fix you’ll need to head outdoors! And the good news is, there’s a triple-header of club football activity in Elverys MacHale Park this Sunday:
- 12pm: Swinford take on Westport in the Breaffy House Hotel & Spa Resort Junior B Final
- 2pm: Achill take on Castlebar Mitchels in the Breaffy House Hotel & Spa Resort Junior A Final
- 3.45pm: The Egan Jewellers Intermediate Championship Final sees Ballyhaunis clash with Hollymount/Carramore.
On the Ladies’ Football front, there’s also some club action on Saturday 4th October:
- Carnacon (Mayo) take on St. Patrick’s Dromahair (Leitrim) @ 2.30pm in Kilcoyne Park, Tubbercurry in the Tesco Connacht Senior Club Championship
- And on the minor side, C.L. McHale Rovers (Mayo) meet Mohill (Leitrim) @ 4.30pm in Kilcoyne Park, Tubbercurry.
For those of you who are Croke Park/GAA Mayo Season ticket holders, these are now open for renewals only. There are no new tickets available at this point, as Mayo supporters have bought up their full allocation of GAA season tickets; however, new tickets may (or may not) become available at a later date. You should have received an email reminding you to renew: if not, all the information is here. There has been a €10 increase in the price of the season ticket this year – no information on the reason behind the increase has been forthcoming from the GAA Season ticket office thus far.
In Club ’51 news, we are off to the Blog Awards Ireland tomorrow night where we are hoping we might take away some silverware. Cross your fingers for us (and for everyone else, ‘cos some of us are very poor losers indeed).
We also have a couple of competitions lined up for our readers over the coming weeks so keep an eye on our Facebook and twitter pages for news.
To keep the fires burning, we are looking for new contributors to write about all things Mayo GAA-related over the winter, so if you fancy adding your name to the list of guest posters and sharing a story or an article, please get in touch. Near and far, young and old, all welcome.
Route ’51 continues to clock up the miles as our flag is heading off to some of our exiles Down Under over the coming weeks – give us a shout if you’re based somewhere far-flung and would like to feature on the map (No, Roscommon doesn’t count).
And as always, if anyone would like to get involved with Club’ 51, or has any ideas for what we can do next year, drop us a line, we would love to hear from you.
Til next time,
The Club ’51 crew
Another inter-county season comes to a close, and Kerry are champions again. I’m not sure what to think of that to be honest, but it is what it is. It was a season of mixed emotions. Nerves, pride, anger, sadness – we had it all. But it’s behind us now. January just can’t come quick enough.
As we all know by now, Noel Connelly and Pat Holmes have been installed as the next management team to take our lads forward. There are also reports suggesting that Donie Buckley and Ed Coughlan are staying on in their positions. This would be a terrific boost and would add to some much-needed continuity for this side. We know the new managers Noel and Pat will represent us brilliantly like they did with many of the current group back in 2006 and we wish them all the luck in the world.
Yesterday’s game in Croke Park drew the curtain down on the 2014 season and while we didn’t land the main prize, our own Cillian “Not a Marquee Forward” O’Connor finished the season as top scorer for the second year in a row. That’s a terrific achievement for someone who was still playing U21 football last year! Well done Cillian. The second of many, I’m sure.
In Club ’51 news, we’re extremely proud to announce that we have made the finals of The Blog Awards Ireland 2014 in TWO separate categories: Best Sports Blog and Best Newcomer Blog. We are thrilled to bits and we want to thank absolutely everybody who has contributed to the site in any way since we kicked off in late December. We’d like to invite everybody and anybody to join us on the 4th October at the Westgrove Hotel, Clane, Co. Kildare for the main event. You can get tickets here. There is an 80s theme for the night too, so bring your best 80s Mayo clobber and we’ll have ourselves a right party!
There’s plenty of GAA action to keep us going this weekend, too. On Saturday at MacHale Park, Noel Connelly’s Hollymount/Carramore side take on Belmullet in the county intermediate semi-final replay (note, this game is NOT in Limerick) with Ballyhaunis awaiting the winners in the final. On Sunday, Mayo and Connacht Champions Castlebar Mitchels continue to defend their crown when they come up against Garrymore in the senior semi-final at 2pm and that’s followed by the second semi-final: a mouthwatering clash between Knockmore and Ballintubber.
That should bridge the gap nicely for another week at least, so get up to MacHale Park and enjoy the show!
In the meantime, we’re off to compile a list for our potential acceptance speech.
Well… Well, well, well… We see some familiar faces here today. Some welcome… Some not so welcome.
Enjoy the weekend!
In the next of our series of guest posts, we’d like to welcome Shamrocks (yes, of course that’s his real name) to the hot seat to take us on a journey from past to present. For those of you who remember ’89, this will bring back some magic memories.
An unorthodox Mayo man of sorts, born in England and brought up in a rural north Wicklow village ’til I was 11 years of age, before moving to the homeland of Mayo. My father was a native of Achill Island, it was there we spent most of our holidays as kids. It was always Mayo from day one, it was part of who we were and the county team was where I identified my connection to the place that will always be home.
My first memory was the old Salthill in 1984, travelling down with my comrade and chauffeur, my father. This is where it all began , the adventure of the journey down west, the anticipation of seeing the flags out of the car windows and then to the climax of seeing the footballers of Mayo run onto the pitch. Unfortunately we lost out to Galway on that day. My memories of the game itself are not too clear, I was only 6/7 years of age I suppose, but it’s amazing how silly things remain in the head, like only knowing the name of Willie Joe 😀
The years went on and the same journey was taken. ’85 I got to see them lift the Nestor Cup in Hyde Park; that was special but again too young to really take it in . ’87 seems a lot clearer, a really low-scoring game against Galway in Castlebar, but another defeat.
1989 is where it really comes alive for me.
We as a family had moved down home at last, to a rural village in east Mayo, Kilmovee, where my grandmother came from on my mother’s side. The first game against Galway in Tuam. We never won there (at the time) so a draw was a mighty return and we easily did the business in Castlebar in the replay, McHale and Larry with the goals. Next it was the Rossies and another draw, the replay was epic and no Mayo supporter of my age or older will ever forget Jimmy Burke’s goal in extra time. Hyde park erupted into an explosion of green and red; it was just priceless. The semi v Tyrone was of course the first time a lot of Mayo supporters ever seen Mayo win in Croke park in senior championship including father/mother and daughter/son generation. I suppose it was a bit like what winning the All-Ireland would be like now. The weeks leading up to the final were indescribable in terms of excitement – all the towns were decked out, the songs were released. As a child, the memories are of sheer happiness, the crowds at Knock airport to see our heroes off, running after the team coach with my new school mates from Tavrane NS through the thousands of fans singing ‘Willie Joe, Willie Joe’’ – it is just something that will stay with me forever.
What a journey we have had since. The losing of finals down the years is what everyone likes to throw at us and of course it has been disappointing but is there any Mayo supporter out there who would swap all those journeys we have had in 89/96/97/04/06/12/13 for some form of mediocrity like the vast majority of counties experience ?
We are now in a phase where we have reached the last two finals and are about to contest our fourth semi-final on the trot. People are getting uptight about where we are at – have we still a chance or are we burnt out as a unit? There is a sense of supporters being divided on aspects of what should have happened in finals and other issues. The truth is nobody really knows, we can all guess but let’s be real, everyone has one thing in common – we all want the same thing.
So let’s get behind our bucks the next day in Croke park against Kerry, and roar them on. We are favourites with the bookies to beat Kerry in an all Ireland semi-final. Don’t be frightened by it, embrace it. Horan, Buckley, Prendergast and the panel have earned the fucking right to be a top team, now let us act the same, and fill her up with green and red!
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.
James Horan’s first game as Mayo manager was an FBD game in Castlebar in January 2011. His league managerial debut also took place in MacHale Park against Down a month later. He opened up his championship managerial career in West London on a bright afternoon which almost went down in the history books as a black day for Mayo football. Two further championship games in very bad conditions dictated that he brought his men to Croke Park in July 2011 as Connacht champions but with the tag of serious underdogs to face Cork, the All Ireland champions. That day he made nonsense of Spillane’s ranting about Connacht football’s “Junk Status”, ridiculed Brolly’s assertion that Cork would easily progress and set the tone for some historic Mayo days in Croke Park over the next 3 years. For many that is the day that the Horan era really started. Now the Horan era is surely coming to a close and we face Cork once again. This time Mayo will be installed as favourites and rightfully so. Cork were physically and mentally superior to Sligo in Saturday’s qualifier. In Sky Sports high definition each man looked taller and broader, and even more importantly than this, they had far better ideas when on the ball. Colm O’Neill dominated the game ably assisted by Paul Kerrigan. Sligo had a patch of dominance and took a fine goal in the third quarter but the game was never in doubt. Keeping Kerrigan and O’Neill quiet will no doubt be key to Sunday’s game plan. Cork now have a huge step up in the calibre of their opponents in the space of a week. They started brightly against Kerry but were unable to compete with them as the game progressed. I think the match-ups will favour the Connacht champions and while we, as Mayo supporters, will never get used to going to Croke Park as favourites, the players and management seem to have no problems with it ,judging by our wins over Down and Tyrone. Regardless of our chances of lifting the blessed chalice in September, and regardless of whether he continues in the job, we cannot doubt that James Horan’s tenure has been a great success. Let’s keep enjoying it and hope fervently that Sunday’s game will bring him one step closer to immortality.