Mayo just need to deliver one more heroic display

Comment & Opinion

ONE STEP AWAY Mayo manager James Horan stands for a portrait after a Mayo senior football media conference at Hastings MacHale Park in Castlebar. Pic: Seb Daly/Sportsfile

Yesterday may have seen another batch of Covid-19 regulations lifted but the pandemic is still very much part of our daily lives, with infections rates still well into four figures on a daily basis.
Life is slowly returning to normal but fresh in the memories are still those dark days when we had full lockdown and couldn’t see family or friends. Sport most definitely helped to get us through those difficult times and Mayo’s run all the way to the All-Ireland final last year was a great distraction, despite the ultimate result.
It’s truly amazing that James Horan and his team are, some eight months later, back in another final. Despite the huge amount of obstacles placed in their way, they have somehow found the resolve and determination to reach the penultimate stage once again, and go into Saturday’s final as favourites.
Truly, no one saw this coming. The season ending injury to all-time leading scorer Cillian O’Connor was seen as a huge blow, and rightly so, as was the Covid outbreak which threatened to derail the best laid plans before the Leitrim game.
But Mayo soldiered on and put Galway to the sword when they seemed in big trouble at half time in the Croke Park Connacht Final, and those unforgettable last eight minutes against Dublin in the semi-final will forever go down in the annals of GAA history. It set us up for an extra-time performance that not even this great Dublin side could live with, and here we are again dreaming of final glory.
The chaotic nature of this season meant it was no real surprise that Tyrone upset the applecart and dispatched Kerry, again in semi-final extra time, and thus we have an unique, pairing for the GAA’s biggest occasion.
It’s such a pity that Croke Park will be only half full as the reality is, the GAA could sell out the whole stadium two times over in normal times. But the atmosphere will still undoubtedly be electric, as it will be in towns and villages throughout the county.
Everyone of course has to be mindful of the existing Covid regulations —  win, lose or draw — and the HSE, Mayo County Council, Mayo GAA and An Garda Síochána are appealing to members of the public and businesses to stay safe whilst supporting their team. Follow their advice, but still do your best to get behind Mayo in their quest for a first All-Ireland title for 70 years. Maigh Eo abú.