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Home are Mayo’s heroes

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A CLEAR SIGN Mayo fans had a message for Stephen Rochford and his players at MacHale Park, Castlebar on Monday evening. Pic: Conor McKeown

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Ger Flanagan

IF you were living under a boulder last weekend and the result of the All-Ireland final somehow passed you by, it would have been hard to tell whether Mayo won or lost the game, judging by the atmosphere and crowd that turned out in a sunny MacHale Park, Castlebar yesterday (Monday) evening.
‘Pride in victory and in defeat’ seemed to be the theme, as the Mayo players, management and back-room team made their way on stage to a heroes’ welcome.
It wasn’t an evening where anyone was making excuses or seeking answers, feeling sorry for themselves or pitying the players. It was all about the support for the footballers, and Mayo’s Stephen Coen wasn’t surprised by the huge turnout.
“The supporters always turn up in great numbers, and we really appreciate it,” he told The Mayo News. “Yeah [it is] disappointing, [it’s] not the result that we expected to get, but with that support you got to deal with it. Tonight is a great night to show our appreciation to the supporters, we really appreciate it.”
The emotion of last Sunday’s incredible All-Ireland final was still very much etched on each and every one of the Mayo squad’s faces.
They trudged through the tunnel underneath the media tower, the mental and physical strain of the weekend’s action having visibly taken its toll.
Coen admitted the previous 24 hours had passed by in a blur, but the Hollymount/Carramore clubman said he was determined to move forward.
“Bittersweet, I suppose, but we have to show appreciation, we are really thankful to all the supporters,” he said of the the occasion. “We don’t have to do this, but we’ve always said it: ‘We like doing it, that’s why we’re up here’.
“It’s difficult, you know yourself, it’s been difficult for yourselves too and the supporters, so we will all stick to it together now and just get on with it.
“We’re from Mayo and we like to represent Mayo, it’s a great honour for us. So whatever happens we’ll always give our best.”
And as children breached the barriers and began to circle around the tunnel leading out onto MacHale Road where the players were making a hasty exit, it was time for the Mayo squad, management and support staff to head off to the quieter confines of Breaffy House.
One got the feeling that if they waited around much longer, pandemonium would have ensued.
But the former minor and under-21 captain had a quick message for the county’s loyal supporters just before he was whisked away to the safety of the team bus waiting patiently on the other side of the road.
“This is hard to take, and a tough pill to swallow but, look, we will move on,” he said. “We’re looking forward to it [2018] already.
“They’re unbelievable. Unbelievable!,” he said of the supporters. “Words cant describe [it] ... Every day they’re out in big numbers, and they’re always behind us, so it’s much appreciated.”

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