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It’s the final countdown

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Former Mayo star John Casey and his Donegal wife Rita will be hoping for different outcomes in Sunday’s final. The Charlestown-based couple bought custom-made half Donegal/half Mayo jerseys for their two daughters, Ava (right) and Kayleigh.
DIVIDED LOYALTIES
Former Mayo star John Casey and his Donegal wife Rita will be hoping for different outcomes in Sunday’s final. The Charlestown-based couple bought custom-made half Donegal/half Mayo jerseys for their two daughters, Ava (right) and Kayleigh.?Pic: Mick McCormack


The final countdown


Horan’s men ready for date with destiny

Edwin McGreal
edwinmcgreal@mayonews.ie

From the four corners of the world Mayo people will converge on the centre of the GAA universe, Croke Park, Dublin for Sunday’s All-Ireland Football Final against Donegal.
Tens of thousands of Mayo fans are expected to march from the county while Mayo folk domiciled all over the world  are coming home from every inhabited continent for what will be a huge gathering of our brethren in Dublin 3.
If you’ve got your hands on a ticket as you read this, then consider yourself one of the lucky ones. One unavoidable reality of Mayo qualifying for the country’s greatest sporting occasion is that demand will vastly outstrip supply.
All of us are looking to be there for what we all hope will be a moment of history - to see a Mayo man hoist the Sam Maguire Cup sometime after 5pm on Sunday evening.
It has been a magical journey to get to this stage and the county has been abuzz with talk and good wishes ahead of Sunday’s showdown. The timing has been ideal, serving as a perfect tonic amidst all the economic doom and gloom. It is quite simply hard to imagine what the county would be like after a triumph on Sunday.
Mayo report no injuries going into the game. Lee Keegan, Richie Feeney, Colm Boyle, Kevin McLoughlin and Enda Varley, all of whom were affected by one problem or another for the semi-final win over Dublin, were all given a clean bill of health by Mayo manager James Horan at last Wednesday’s press evening in Breaffy House Hotel.
The big decision for the management will be whether Colm Boyle or Chris Barrett will start at left-half back. Boyle started every championship game before losing his place against Dublin due to illness. Boyle came on in that game to good effect but Barrett impressed throughout. It will be a marginal call.
James Horan is expected to name his team later this week, possibly as late as Friday, in keeping with the announcement of the team for the Dublin game.
Should Mayo triumph, what will be even more sought after than a match ticket will be a ticket for the banquet on Sunday night which is due to take place in The Regency Hotel in Drumcondra. Tickets for the meal have already sold out. It is expected that 1,000 people will sit to eat while a further 1,000 people can pay in after the meal but even those tickets are in very short supply.
The songs have been written, the round bales have been daubed with ‘Mayo for Sam’, old cars have been painted green and red, and every second house appears to have a Mayo flag flying. The number one topic of conversation from children not old enough to remember Mayo’s last final appearance in 2006 to the older generation who can remember 1951, Mayo’s last triumph, has all centred on Sunday and Mayo’s chances.
How will they do? None of us can say that with certainty. What we do know is that this team will travel with a county’s best wishes and with a confidence in their own ability to succeed that has galvanised the county of Mayo, from Blacksod to Ballindine and from Lacken Strand to Louisburgh, behind them.
A county’s people march east with hope in their hearts. We’ll leave the final word to our long-serving columnist Seán Rice who has seen generations of Mayo teams play. “In this Mayo team we trust.”

HAVE YOUR SAY email edwinmcgreal@mayonews.ie with your comments

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