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The diary of a Mayo supporter

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PICTURE PERFECT Mayo fan Marie Kavanagh from Westport is pictured with her sons Adam and Jonathan outside Croke Park before last Saturday’s match. Pic: Paul Reardon

A Fan’s View
Anne-Marie Flynn

THE average Mayo supporter has been a little spoiled in recent days, with five wins from five within nine days. Two wins for our seniors, two for our minors, and one from our women is not a bad return at all and leaves us with plenty to talk about.
Even if Castlebar was as far as some of us got at the weekend.
To see the Mayo Under-17s put Galway to the sword in such a decisive and stylish fashion in the Connacht final was heart-warming, and the panache with which they played was balm to the soul for those of us weary of lateral handpassing against crowded defences. They have provided us with a wealth of joy and some lovely, intelligent football in this year’s campaign. Manager Seán Deane spoke eloquently after the game about his pride in his young charges and it’s clear to see that there is a special bond within this group along with some precocious talent, which we’d hope will be nurtured, not neutralised down the line.
It’s a real shame they didn’t have more time to absorb and celebrate their win before taking on a strong Kildare team in Tullamore at the weekend, but it did them no harm, despite, in typical Mayo fashion, their almost failure to close out a game in which they were well ahead. But they’d done enough early on to claim their place against Kerry in the semi-final.
Another commitment on Sunday meant that the trip to Tullamore was also unfeasible, but TG4 was there to save the day.
A word of appreciation for TG4, who have quietly and efficiently done so much to promote Gaelic Games in this country at all levels and in all codes, with consistently excellent coverage both on TV and online. RTÉ could learn a lot, but a little like GAA HQ, they seem determined to keep their blinkers on.
Speaking of HQ, there is no denying that both the Association and our own county chairman were left with egg on their faces and in the case of the former, probably a substantial bill, following Saturday’s abysmal attendance. So dismal that the GAA refused to disclose the attendance, which is estimated at under 15,000.
Given the palpable anger last week at the fixture announcement it came as little surprise that Mayo fans stayed put in the west, but it was remarkable to see all four counties vote with their feet. Bowing to commercial interests ahead of the community they claim to be all about is not a good look, but while decision-makers in the GAA have rarely cared for the interests of supporters, they may well start taking notice when revenue dips.
There was little consideration either for team welfare; Mayo, who could not find accommodation had to travel on the day – hardly ideal preparation, but that may go some way towards explaining our poor start.
Despite it now being a tradition as old as time that Mayo will flap and flounder in crucial games for a good fifty minutes before realising where they are, going bananas and obliterating opponents with a tsunami of chaos, our gang with fifteen minutes to go had written the obituary.
Congregated not in the Cusack stand but in Kathryn’s kitchen in Castlebar, it was a nervy affair, with plenty of pacing, a few sighs and I won’t lie, a fair bit of swearing. There was some comfort eating for distraction. There was a bit of despair. Then as the game sparked into life and all hell broke loose, we suffered several minor heart attacks.
As did the cat, who was unfortunate enough to wander in right as Jordan Flynn was lobbing the Kildare keeper. (And yes, he meant it. Jordan that is, not the cat.)
We should have known better. Journalist Gavan Casey summed it up best in his tweet: “As soon as Mayo went six points down, I switched back over to the soccer analysis because I knew Mayo had it won. Ye’re fooling no one, lads”.
The post-game Saturday night in Mick Byrne’s was a jolly affair; nothing beats the win.
The substitutions were, this time, the difference, and now James Horan undeniably has some very big decisions to make before we face Kerry.
It’s the game that nobody really wanted – not yet - and the side of the draw no-one really wanted to be on, but when you fail to win your provincial competition, it is never going to be easy, even though the ‘yerras’ have started yerra-ing below already.
There will be candles lighting all over the county now with Ryan O’Donoghue’s name on them, a couple of novenas said to St Jude, and some fervent entreaties to the god of Gaelic football for a big performance on the day.
Either way, isn’t it great to be here, where 26 other counties would love to be? Let’s enjoy it, get behind the team, and hope for the best.
And who knows where it might lead us?

 

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