It meant having to wolf down a pancake and then battling through the rush-hour traffic (an hour in the car from Drumcondra to Kelly’s Corner) to get there 20 minutes or so after The Launch was supposed to have started. But there were plenty of other poor eejits like myself – including some of the senior panel – similarly snarled up in the evening gridlock and so the throw-in for the formal launch of the Club Mayo Dublin initiative didn’t get underway till a quarter past seven.
There was a good gathering in the Garda Club for the event and I was amused on the way in to see that the cultural icon that is good-old fashioned Mayo parking was still alive and well, with an MO-registered vehicle (see below) sitting proudly in a clearway directly across the road from the Garda Club, well before it became legal to do so at 7pm. Never mind: it was in a good cause.
What struck me most about last night’s event was the obvious degree of organisation that had taken place behind the scenes beforehand. Everyone arriving at the launch got a nice glossy leaflet, attached to which was an application form to join the club. (And it is a club, too, as in a properly-affiliated Mayo GAA club, one which will – if we ever see the day again – get the same All-Ireland ticket allocation as any other club in the county. Does this also mean, mused The Brother at last night’s do, that the new club would get to field a senior team in the forthcoming county league as well?)
The organisers (who seem to have among their ranks a number of serious-looking young bucks in suits: I take that as a good sign) had also done all the necessary legal stuff in terms of drawing up membership rules and so forth, which came with the glossy leaflet. They’ve also put a fair bit of effort in getting a well-designed website in place, one which they’ll now need to expend ongoing energy on in keeping updated but which, if they do, will surely become an excellent reference point for Mayo supporters in the capital.
Perhaps most importantly, the organisers have succeeded in co-opting into this new initiative those who have provided assistance and support within the capital to the county’s footballing efforts down through the years. To date, all of this work – from fundraising to providing logistical support to the Mayo team when they’re playing in Croker to looking after the needs of the Dublin-based panellists – has largely been done on an informal and ad-hoc basis. Now the intention is that all of these worthy efforts and more will take place under the (warning – horrible word used typically by civil servants and the like coming up) aegis of the newly-formed Club Mayo Dublin.
In case you haven’t heard, there’s two types of membership on offer. The standard one costs twenty notes a month, which, like your Medecins Sans Frontieres sub and the like, is paid by standing order. For those feeling a bit more flush, there’s a posher Green and Red Circle Membership costing €1,500 on the nose guv’nor but, in return, you’re guaranteed to get, at face value, two All-Ireland tickets every year the lads make it through. I still think Johnno has a bit of a way to go on the team-building side so I opted for the stingier membership version.
The gathering was addressed by Johnno, County Board Chairman, James Waldron, and, representing the players (and there were eight or nine of them there, including a very unkempt-looking Mort), BJP. The whole thing was compered by Noel Howley, who is one of those stalwarts that have looked after the needs of successive Mayo teams down the years and who has been appointed Interim Chairman of Club Mayo Dublin. He sounds like an excellent choice for the position.
James Waldron paid tribute to the large turnout, noting that, just like the folks back home, the Dublin-based fraternity is “mad about football”. He’s not wrong there. Johnno also laid it on thick about the importance in the county’s football firmament of us Mayo Dubs and he had a good go at tugging our heartstrings when he said that “we may have left Mayo but Mayo has never left us”. That’s true, but I think it’s fair to say that we’ve learned to park a bit better over the years. BJ gave a nice speech about how proud the lads are to wear the jersey and saying how well the players are treated, with James Waldron beaming benevolently from the dias behind him. I don’t think he even winced when BJ mentioned the ‘C’ word.
The event may have started late but it was all done and dusted rapidly, with wine (wine – hah! Give me porter, woman) and sangwidges already doing the rounds barely half an hour after throw-in. But, by then, all the necessary business had been done and this hugely worthwhile initiative had been successfully launched. With the rush hour traffic now dissipated, I even managed to make it home in time for Prison Break. A good result all round, then.