Final fever takes hold
The fan's view
THE county town is buzzing with excitement as it prepares itself for Mitchels’ greatest day in 20 years. The streetscape of Castlebar is awash with red and yellow paraphernalia, displayed vibrantly throughout the bustling town centre as the anticipation ahead of March 17 reaches fever pitch.
Once the excitement of the win over Dr Crokes subsided (slightly anyway), the focus shifted on to Paddy’s Day and Croke Park. As the 3.45pm throw in was confirmed, our attention turned towards planning for Dublin. Will we overnight it? Will we drive or take the train? When the club announced a ‘Supporters’ Special Train’, the decision was made – surely there’s no better alternative than travelling along with 450 other like-minded supporters, all on the one crusade together.
Many different functions, from coffee mornings to pub quizzes, have been organised to help raise funds towards the team’s training costs, and these have garnered great support from all corners of the town. These gatherings have afforded supporters of all ages the chance to catch up with old acquaintances and make some new ones.
Stories from the club’s olden days – some glorious, some not – have been retold, and maybe even re-enacted throughout these venues! The dilemma of how and when the St Patrick’s Day Parade would be held was swiftly dealt with, allowing town folk to enjoy their own parade on Sunday and thus enabling supporters to march around the streets of Ireland’s capital themselves on Monday wearing their club colours. The theme of the Castlebar parade this year has been designated ‘Red and Yellow’, to honour Mitchels’ achievement of reaching the All-Ireland club final.
Whilst all the off-field shenanigans continues, the team have their heads down with absolute focus on the challenge ahead. It’s a huge tribute to the togetherness of our team and management that stories or rumours that normally emerge from a camp are unheard of, reflecting what a tightly-knit group they are. In the small environs that encompass a parochial club, this is quite an achievement and a remarkable feat in this age of social media.
There may be some ghosts from our previous final appearance in 1994 floating around still haunting a few supporters. However, our club does not have to carry this type of baggage around, and any unfortunate comparisons to the county team and their finals record needs to be dispatched into touch – after all, it’s only our second ever final. This group of players are a young, hungry and ambitious bunch who will go into this final concentrating on the task at hand rather than entertaining thoughts of the past which shall be left locked up under a blanket of cobwebs in the vault of time.
Now, more so than ever, support from us for these lads will be crucial. Amidst the vast stands of Croke Park, we will have to make ourselves seen and heard like never before. To travel home from Dublin on Monday night, team and supporters together as one, with the Andy Merrigan Cup in our grasp, would be the ultimate fairy-tale ending to the momentous journey that our club has brought us on. Let’s not leave anything behind us on the pitch or in the stands so as to ensure that there is a happy ending in 2014.