BEAUTIFUL sunshine and bright blue skies greeted Mayo GAA fans when they arrived in the city of London on Friday afternoon ahead of Sunday’s Connacht SFC quarter-final in Ruislip.
It was a balmy 21 degrees in the English capital when one of the first groups of supporters arrived at Luton Airport shortly before 2pm.
The majority of the travelling Mayo fans are flying to London from Ireland West Airport Knock, and the preparations for the airport’s 30th anniversary celebration were in full swing there on Friday morning.
Mayo fans were in high spirits ahead of the weekend in London, with Pete Higgins from Ballyhaunis (father of Keith), Achill footballer Jonathan Fadian and his girlfriend Stephanie Heneghan from Westport, former Burrishoole and London footballer Fergal Hoban, and Brendan Fitzpatrick and Johnny Mulkeen from Claremorris among those making the journey.
“I lived in London for years and I’m really looking forward to the weekend,” Margaret Connolly (nee Heneghan) from Partry told The Mayo News.
“I’ve got my tickets for the match, there is a group of us travelling together, and we’re going to make the most of it.”
Some Mayo supporters going to Stansted Airport with Ryanair did run into some bad luck however, when the expected departure of their 9.50am flight was delayed due to a technical fault.
Over 1,000 Mayo supporters are believed to be making the trip across the Irish Sea for the game on Sunday between the Connacht champions and the Exiles.
Meanwhile, many Mayo GAA fans are expected to make their way to The Oxford Arms in Camden Town tomorrow (Saturday) for ‘The Big Match Meet-Up’ at 4pm.
The get-together for Mayo fans has been organised by The Mayo News, in association with Mayo Club ’51 and Cairde Maigheo.
The aim of the event is to bring Mayo supporters together ahead of Sunday’s game, and sample the atmosphere among the Mayo GAA and London GAA fraternities.
“We’re looking forward to welcoming Mayo and London supporters to the city,” commented Tom Maloney, a native of Bohola who owns ‘The Oxford Arms’ and is a prominent member of Cairde Maigheo London.
Among those making an appearance will be All-Ireland winning Mayo under 21 manager, Michael Solan, and former London senior manager, Noel Dunning, who is a selector this season alongside Ciarán Deely.
The Mayo senior football squad, backroom team and management fly from Ireland West Airport Knock tomorrow (Saturday) and are due to arrive in London in the afternoon.
Sunday’s game — which will be broadcast live on Mid West Radio — will be the seventh time that Mayo have played London in the Connacht championship in Ruislip.
Connacht champions Mayo are 1/100 with bookmakers to advance to the provincial semi-final against Galway on Saturday, June 18.
The game has been officially ‘sold out’ with many Mayo supporters still scouting anxiously for tickets as the countdown to 3pm on Sunday continues.