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Mayo GAA Christmas lunch is a huge success


FLYING THE MAYO FLAG Terry Gallagher from Achill, pictured here with Rhonda Gallagher at the annual Mayo Association in London Dinner, was also among the guests at the Mayo GAA Christmas Lunch in Dublin recently. Pic: Malcolm McNally

Mike Finnerty

IT’S amazing what can be done when people put their minds to something.
That thought crossed this writer’s mind more than once last Friday week as I looked around ‘The Grand Room’ of the Shelbourne Hotel in Dublin during the inaugural Mayo GAA Christmas Lunch.
The event was organised primarily as a fundraiser to help defray the cost of the Mayo senior football team’s holiday to Kuala Lumpur later this month, but it also gave almost 300 Mayo people (with a few Dubs and Rossies thrown in) a chance to mix, mingle and network — as well as talk football, of course!
The whole afternoon was a resounding success, with everything run like clockwork by the organisers, under the baton of the Mayo senior football team’s head of logistics, Eoin Rochford.
But as well as the salubrious surroundings of The Shelbourne, the beautiful meal, and the positive and jovial atmosphere of the occasion, something else caught the attention of this observer as the afternoon wore on.
It was the unmistakable and unshakeable sense of belief and purpose that permeated the room when the discussion turned to Mayo football and the team’s chances of winning the All-Ireland in 2018.
Among the speakers on the day were Deputy Enda Kenny TD, outgoing County Board secretary Vincent Neary, the recently-retired Alan Dillon, Pat Rowland of Elverys, Tom Maloney and Terry Gallagher of Cairde Maigheo London, Mayo players Chris Barrett, Aidan O’Shea, Cillian O’Connor and Andy Moran, and their manager Stephen Rochford.
And every single one of them had the same message, delivered in their own words — that the Mayo football team that now represents the county will never be found wanting for heart, courage, commitment or effort.
And make no mistake they all said to a man, that will be the case again in 2018.
Something Chris Barrett said stuck in our head too; that regardless of what the future holds for this group of players, they will reflect on their years together in the Mayo dressing-room as being some of the best of their lives.
And if an All-Ireland medal eludes them, then they will look back on their careers as ones full of great moments, memories, and friendships.
“We certainly won’t see ourselves as failures if it doesn’t happen,” said Barrett.
Cairde Maigheo (both in Mayo and in London), the Mayo GAA Board, the players and members of management (each of whom sat at a different table to chat with supporters) are to be commended for the way the event was run.
It was nothing if not professional, polished and extremely successful.
After all, any day out that includes Mayo selector Tony McEntee pulling a few Christmas crackers with Seamus Tuohy of the County Board  would have to be described as a success!

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