Final countdown

Comment & Opinion

TYRONE ARE HUNGRY TOO Tyrone joint-managers Feargal Logan (right) and Brian Dooher celebrate after beating Kerry in the GAA Football All-Ireland Senior Championship semi-final at Croke Park. Pic: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Tyrone semi-final victory makes September 11 a special occasion

It is a final that no one predicted, but on Saturday, September 11, Mayo will face off against Ulster champions Tyrone for the first time in the history of the GAA.
Both sides have had a turbulent season, having had to deal with outbreaks of Covid-19 in their camps, but Tyrone showed no ill effects on Sunday afternoon when disposing of a highly regarded Kerry team in extra-time.
Feargal Logan and Brian Dooher will be absolutely thrilled to be in the final in their very first season in charge, but they now know this is a golden opportunity to win Tyrone’s first All-Ireland since 2008.  
Of course, everyone in this county knows it’s now 70 years since a Mayo man climbed the steps of Croke Park to raise the Sam Maguire cup. In nearly all our attempts since, we have rarely gone in as favourites. But that is where the bookies have us at present.
Mayo will have to deal with that tag after dethroning six-time All-Ireland winners Dublin in that enthralling semi-final on August 15, but James Horan and his backroom team will have watched Sunday’s game very closely and will know what to expect come 5pm on Saturday week.
The hunt for tickets will now begin in earnest this week for Mayo’s fanatical followers, but the reality is that those tickets will probably be now even scarcer than if it were Kerry we were facing in the final.
No experts in the GAA really gave Mayo a chance of winning Sam Maguire this year, especially after the season-ending injury to star forward Cillian O’Connor, but this young team has matured over the course of the season and different players have stepped up to the plate when needed.
Eoghan McLaughlin is unlikely to recover from his jaw injury in time to play. However,  there is real hope that the extra couple of weeks afforded to Tyrone due to the Covid outbreak has given last year’s Young Footballer of the Year, Oisín Mullin, a real chance of recovering from his quad injury.
Although there is likely to be only 40,000 at the final September 11, it promises to be a final for the ages, and there will be a real excitement in the air across Mayo over the next 12 days.