As the lads prepare, yet again, for an All-Ireland Semi-Final, us supporters have to find a way of filling the long, painful void by doing everything and anything that is in any way related to Mayo football.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t quite old enough in 1996 to fully appreciate what had happened in the semi-final against Kerry. In fact, I was so gutted that Mayo had lost the minors that day that it had to be explained to me that it “wasn’t the big match, that’s up next!” That was lost on me at the time, but I was old enough a mere 12 months later to fully appreciate sitting in the old Hogan Stand to see us put Leinster Champions Offaly to bed. All that considered, here are some particularly magical moments that stuck with me, in no particular order:
*Note: These aren’t a list of top moments as such, just some of my own personal favourite memories.
Ciaran McDonald in 2006
Ok, lets just get the obvious one out of the way. This guy was magic and he gave us some memorable moments in the green and red. Not least on that day in 2006 when, as huge underdogs, we toppled Dublin. And I’m not just talking about his cracking winner – his point from the sideline in the first half of that game was absolutely majestic. He scored a similar one against them in Parnell Park in a league game not long after that – an absolute cracking game which we lost by a single score due to a late Mossy Quinn ’45. What a player this guy was.
Chris Barrett in 2013
When the chips were down and we needed something to spring us to life in the Tyrone game in 2013, up stepped our pacey full back. Not once, but twice. We had just lost our top scorer and young footballer of the year, Cillian O’Connor to a recurring shoulder injury and were trailing by 4 late in the first half, with only 3 points on the board in over a half hour of football. Barrett then marched up the pitch and kicked two spectacular points to bring the game, from a Mayo perspective, to life – the first point kick-starting a comeback and the second bringing us within 1 just before the break. Many consider those points as the pivotal moment that brought Mayo back into that game. Few, I feel, would disagree.
Seamie O’Shea in 2012
Apart from our absolute blitz of Dublin in the first 15 minutes of the second half, the score that stands out for me is the last one – the clincher – from Seamie O’Shea to put us 3 ahead. It never gets old listening to the roar from the Mayo faithful after that score. It was as much relief as anything else, as the Dublin lads managed to slowly claw their way back into the game. I love everything about this clip. The Mayo crowd chanting, the outstanding catch by the ever reliable Barry Moran, the finish from Seamie and the deafening roar from the crowd.
And it all could have been different only for…
Davey Clarke in 2012
What a moment. What a save. What a ‘keeper. Every time I see this replayed, I can still feel my heart drop when Brogan gets the ball. One of the best forwards in Ireland came up against one of the best (and in my humble opinion, the most underrated) ‘keepers. Thankfully, our boy won out this time ’round. Poor oul Darragh Maloney sounded gutted.
Keith Higgins in 2006
Passion, determination and desire. This last one was a toss up between Andy’s goal and this block. And marginally, our current captain came out on top. The entire team’s performance in the drawn game in 2014 was also considered, but this just pipped it at the post.
Dublin’s forwards were lined up. It was a foregone conclusion. They were going to equalise and bring this mammoth battle to a replay. It’s the 70th minute, the ball drops to Jason Sherlock. The fairlytale ending. And then Higgins produces an absolutely astonishing super-hero block that eventually leads to Mayo getting the ball back and killing the game off. My heart is pounding just typing this!
So, hopefully this post has entertained you somewhat in our wait for next Sunday. We now know Kerry are waiting for either ourselves or Dublin. Lets hope it’s the former, and we can replace a few of the above memories with some fresh ones!
Keep an eye out later today, where Robert Bashford will run you through Part 2. And if you disagree, let us know on Twitter or Facebook!