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The long road to Croker


HOMEWARD BOUND Mayo supporter Elaine Donnelly.

Michael Commins

BALLYHAUNIS native Elaine Donnelly is a dyed-in-the wool Mayo supporter. So much so that she is about to undertake a 21,400-miles round trip to cheer on her beloved Mayo!
She will leave Melbourne on Thursday night and will spend just four days away from Australia just to take in the All-Ireland final between Mayo and Dublin in Croke Park on Sunday … if she can secure a ticket!
Elaine, daughter of Jimmy (a Galway man) and Mary (who says her youngest daughter is ‘mad in the head’ when it comes to Mayo football), is very excited about making the trip home for the All-Ireland.
“All the late nights up watching every match on GAA Go, the jet-lag, expense, and miles travelled will be worth it to see Mayo lift Sam,” says Elaine.  
“Before I emigrated in 2012, I went to every single game – ladies, league, championship, everything! Every person I’ve met abroad leaves the conversation knowing where I’m from and how proud I am to come from our beautiful part of the world.
“I’ve been permanently based in Melbourne since 2013 and I currently work in insurance underwriting. This isn’t the first time I’ve made the trip back for the final. After I witnessed the Connacht final win over London in 2013, I was convinced we were going all the way, so I promptly went home and booked the cheapest flight home for September.
“I flew into Knock the Friday evening before the All-Ireland in 2013. Luckily, thanks to some divine intervention, a ticket landed in my hand later that evening ... Sadly, it wasn’t to be our year.
“It nearly killed me to miss the final last year. It was impossible to make the trip for it as I had only been back the month before for my grandmother’s 90th birthday. I watched both games in the Celtic Club in Melbourne.
“Here we are again, another year, another championship season, and another chance for Mayo’s destiny to be fulfilled. I watched the semi-final replay in a friend’s house in St Kilda, Melbourne, a house full of Ballyhaunis, Aghamore, Claremorris lads, a Cork man and two Aussie girls for good measure.
“When the final whistle went, the decision was made there and then at about 3am to make the trip all over again! I have to say, I have an extremely supportive fiancé (a Cork man with Mayo connections) who understands the cause and goes along with all the madness being a Mayo fan brings!
“I wrangled four days off [work], so now the trek begins again this week from my apartment in St Kilda to the hallowed turf of Croke Park. I fly to Dublin via Doha on Thursday night, and land Friday afternoon (total flying time 22 hours and 10 minutes), where hopefully Lady Luck and divine intervention as a reward for working for ten years in Knock Shrine look down on me again and put a ticket into my hand! Any tickets lads?!”


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