This is it – for the fifth time in this incredible decade for us, we’re back in the All-Ireland final, which, in this unprecedented year, takes place this evening, less than a week out from Christmas Day.
I’ve been thinking over the last few days about the dream-like quality of this hugely weird Championship campaign. One minute, the lads are slogging it out on a boggy pitch up in Carrick, now, all of a shot like, we’re in the All-Ireland final.
Dreams are probably the best option for us this week. I had a dream the other night – honestly I did – about how the final played out. A bifurcated one as it turned out: one version had the Harlem Globe Trotters galloping away from us in the distance, point after rote-learned point going over the bar, while the other one had us rocking them with three – or was it four? – goals that saw us tear up the script and storm to victory.
No prizes for guessing which variant I’ve kept in my head in the days since then. Sure, all logical thought has to lead you to a Dublin victory but I’ve had no time for rational analysis this week.
But it’s not all unhinged hoping-beyond-hope either. This is a unique, one-off game of football, an All-Ireland final played in an empty Croke Park, a final without the kind of pressure and crazy build-up that we’ve had all those other years.
Maybe the changed circumstances this evening will suit them but it can equally be argued that it’ll convey an advantage to us. And sure why shouldn’t it be? This is an All-Ireland final and we’re in it to win it.
And isn’t it great to be shooting for glory again? Nobody needs reminding about how many finals we’ve lost since the county last won Sam 69 years ago but none of these past defeats matter today. All that does is the game that faces us at Croke Park this evening.
We’re given little chance of doing the business today but what of it? We know we have a team that will give its all and so much more, a side that will – with almost carefree abandon – carry our most precious dreams into battle with them and will do everything they can to make those dreams come true.
How lucky we are to have such a team, such a cause, to follow. We may not be with them at Croke Park later today but they’ll know we’re with them in spirit. And like all those other years, we’re with them all the way.
So forget about the head, this one is all about the heart. And this heart says Mayo – Mayo for Sam, Mayo forever. Godspeed lads. Bring it home. Up Mayo.