And like that, it all begins again

A bit over a month has passed since we got our hearts broken (yet again) in Croker and it signalled a very disappointing ending to what otherwise was a fantastic weekend for me.

My sister got married on the Friday to a Dublin man. She always wanted to get married in the Fall, ever since she was old enough to start thinking about what marriage was.

When herself and the Dub got engaged, we knew it was going to be a September wedding. I remember she came to me asking about dates, I said to her any day of the ninth month, just please, for the love of all that’s good and holy, leave the third weekend alone.

I’m sure she had already made up 99% of her mind that the wedding was going to be the Friday before the final. The fact her brother had told her to choose any weekend but probably drove that extra 1% into action.

Old rivalries die hard, whether it’s siblings or sport.

As if it wasn’t hard enough having to listen to the Dubs in Croke Park, I first had to spend a weekend with them in Meath!

The speeches, as you could imagine, were filled with talk about the big match on the Sunday. The Dub was handed a brand new Mayo jersey from my father almost like a dowry for taking the daughter off his hands.

The crowd cheered and booed, depending on which colours they wore and the Dub looked at the jersey in disgust.

“I’ll be taking that so,” I thought in my own head.

Driving up to Dublin the Sunday morning was a hazy affair following three consecutive nights of singing and drinking.

I’d be lying if I told you that I hadn’t thought about the final once all weekend though. Any break in play, I would be on Twitter or Snapchat to see was there any daft Mayo memorabilia doing the rounds.

My friend Pat held the golden ticket in his pocket which he snapped me a picture of every day so I could make sure it was still in his possession.

Normally I’d be quicker at chalking up something about a lost final like many the years before but this one was extremely hard to take, extremely hard to get over and extremely hard to talk about.

We could re-examine the game a month later but it’s been done hundreds of times by now. It would change nothing and it would just bring back bad thoughts.

But I will say this – there is nothing worse than losing a final you thought you had the winning of. I wasn’t confident going into the game, I didn’t think we could handle the sheer ferocity of the men from the capital.

Sadly, my initial thought was right, but we didn’t lose because of why I thought we would. To be honest, I’m not quite sure how we lost but that losing thought remained with me throughout the whole game, except for one moment.

Just after the 60th minute mark and two points are between the sides in favour of Mayo and I let a jump and a roar out of me from a place that was hidden deep, below my stomach.

It was almost like a combined roar of all the hurt and tears throughout the years, from 2004 onwards for me and way back for many others.

When that score was kicked, I started mouthing to myself about how we were going to win, this was it, this was the one. And then, heartbreak.

2017 was my generation’s 1996.

As myself and my friend bawled our eyes out at full-time, two elder Mayo fans put their hands around us and said “at least ye’ll see it in your lifetime” and if we didn’t cry enough tears for the men who deserved it on the pitch, we shed a bucket more for those who might not get to see it and for those who didn’t get to see it.

We stayed there for a long time, too long maybe and we weren’t alone. I don’t mean the Dublin fans, I mean many Mayo fans stood still beside us for many minutes after the Dublin fans had gone out the gap.

Sure why would they stay? They’ve seen it last year and the year before.

As we hit for the road, I got a message from another friend of mine, a Galway man living in Castlebar who has a hatred the burns bright for Mayo.

He promised me though that if I cheered for Galway on the green in Eyre Square at the start of the month, he’d return the favour.

His message read: “Beidh lá eile ag an bpaorach. Never seen a Mayo team give more than they did today, they’ll do it yet.”

A man, who holds the Galway v Mayo rivalry very close to his heart and whose blood runs maroon and white, somehow found the right words to ease the blow, just a little.

Almost a month has passed since we got our hearts broken and yet, it begins all over again. A new season is drafted up, new discussions begin but the same old dream remains.

Myself and herself have already started talking about how we’re going to spend the weekend of Valentines watching our two tribes going to war. What a way to spend a romantic weekend!

And then, early in May, Mayo and Galway are set to meet again, this time in the opening round of next year’s Connacht championship.

Hearts get broken in order to be fixed.

I thought I’d never get over the heartbreak that was 2016 but I can tell you one thing for certain – when we were dumped out of Connacht by Galway, when we were clinging on to life against Derry, Cork, Roscommon and Kerry, when we put the Kingdom to the sword for the first time in my living memory in Croke Park and when those two points separated us from the eventual champions – the last thing that was on my mind was the 2016 final.

That win against Kerry was the first time I had shed a tear for a winning Mayo team. Almost two decades I had waited (I could count ’96 but it would be cheating) for a win against Kerry in HQ. That’s the memory I’ll take with me from 2017 as I march into 2018, a winning memory.

Change the clocks, hit reset. Mayo will suffer defeat but will never be beaten.

32 thoughts on “And like that, it all begins again

  1. The cuts from 2017 had started to heal.. and have now reopened again… but again they will heal by January and I will be pitch side green and red in hand like every season since 89… my 1st final. Enjoyed the read apart from the wounds. Happy new season to all.

  2. Normally I’d renew my season ticket the first day I’d get the Email from the GAA but not this year haven’t been able to bring myself to renew yet.i guess all Ireland defeats eventually take their toll hate being negative on this fine forum but Honestly can’t see this team in their present guise delivering Sam now. But hope springs eternal and Rochford staying on is a good thing and hopefully he will bring through a few new young players that will allow us to remain competitive

  3. I have to say I’m in the same boat, this year was the worst year yet. So bad in fact that i have not attended a a game of Gaelic football above the age grade of u8’s since. Maybe today I’ll renew my season ticket and start to heal.

  4. We’ll all get over the final loss but I”ll remember it for what I thought was some unfair refereeing. I’m putting it in the unfair refereeing drawer which is fairly full at this stage.

    Every sports update and independant online are harping on about the Dublin County Final. Youl’d think it was the only County in the country with the amount of coverage it gets.

    We’ll go about our business again this year like we always do. When Spring comes we’ll let loose again and nobody will want to have to face us in 2018.

    Galway are 1st up to the chopping block.

  5. Happy Halloween….95% of club action is wrapped up and now and the Christmas ads will start to appear. Wake me up when January comes around.

  6. I was one of those who queued to get our card number recorded in Longford in 2010. Lived in fear for a few days of a photo of that queue in the Roscommon Herald.
    We renewed for 2011 with a lot less reason to believe than now. Not the time to give up believing.

    Be calm, the league, and championship well test our nerve, belief and courage.


  7. To all season tickets holders: renew renew renew…. I have. You are not beaten until you give up. And Mayo are not giving up any time soon. Lets come back in 2018 louder than ever.

  8. I’d like to see the entire FBD given to the lads trying to break in to the Mayo squad.

    The league is a bit trickier. Ideally we would win the 1st 3 league games and give the rest of the league to the lads trying to make the squad. The flip side is that the Mayo likely team probably need the last games of a league campaign to get sharpened up for the championship.

    Its risky getting off to a slow start in the league which would probably be the case playing lads trying to make the squad. Your under pressure then before the year even kicks off, trying to pick points up at the end of the league.

    Some people reckon that survival in division 1 is not all that important. I think the 1st goal for the coming year is to ensure we stay in division 1. Wouldn’t be too concerned about winning it but I think we really need to be there in the top Division and playing that level of football.

    Goal 2 would be to beat Galway. I think Mayo will be looking to get to the All Ireland semi’s at a minimum again while Galway will focus on beating Mayo.

    Its very tricky on managment on what is the best approach to the campaign. This year we had a great year but we were under pressure to stay in Division 1 in the League and on 3 occassions we went within a whisker of not even reaching the AI semi finals.

    I’d like to see all the hopefuls getting a proper tryout but I wouldn’t like to drop to Div 2.

    It’s tricky for managment to fit it all together.

  9. That article brought me right back…great read but torture at the same time..The only thing I saw after the game was a 5 second snippet of Com O Rourke saying losing these kind of games scars the soul and at the time I knew exactly what he meant..Of course he was referring to players but supporters experience a little bit of the same..

  10. I dunno, my optimism only grows.
    Theyve proven at this stage defeats are not getting to them.
    Next season and into 2019 some serious weight of talent coming through.
    The core of the team the 2006 – 2010 minors all still young.
    2011 minors to 2014 minors coming into being much more experienced footballers.

  11. Don’t give up cos somewhere there’s a place that we belong, and bloody hell we all know where that is, on the terrace and in the stands roaring on the green and red. So, come on, get the finger out, renew your tickets, we need every man woman and child behind the team. This year was unreal, brilliant brilliant supporters and yes it’s hard to stomach but if we stick together with the noise we make we will succeed.

  12. I loved this read Darragh well done once more. Great optimism that SR is staying on. This team is improving with every game. Some serious additions to come in the next 3 years. Dublin will have to continue to improve to stay ahead of us. Don’t renew your ticket if you wish, but be assured there is a queue of real supporters waiting behind you to snap up the opportunity you present them with, which includes some of my family members and friends.

  13. Those who post that Div 1 is not that important are having a laugh surely. Are they trying to tell us that having a regular and annual outing at home and away with teams like Kerry, Dublin, Tyrone, Donegal is not an important stage on which to try out new players, new standards, and new moves. Perhaps they believe we are missing out on something by not visiting Dundalk or Thurles for Gaelic football matches. No disrespect intended to Louth or Tipp, but this old head of mind has these counties major in a different code. The 6 teams that survive the Div 1 in 2018 will know where their strengths and weakness are, as will the 2 that fail. None of the other divisions come with such a stern a test. We are looking to improve and not to dis-improve.

  14. I am a pessimist. My people before me were pessimists. For generations back, if there ever was a possibility of seeing the down side we will gladly avail of the opportunity to do so and pronounce loudly on it as well.
    The weather is nearly always bad where I come from, the turf is wet and don’t talk to me about the economy or the government. And now the clocks have gone back and we are faced with the long winter nights.
    Ask me about Mayo football! I dare you. Go on then………

    Q. Diehard! Will Mayo ever win an all Ireland?
    A. Hmmmmm! Yes actually!
    Q. How do you ‘Yes’. Ah come on! You’re taking the piss? Remember you’re a pessimist. You’re not supposed to think like that.
    A. Yes! Definitely……and probably in 2018 at that
    Q. What makes you think that? Have you stopped taking yer tablets or what?
    A. No, same tablets!
    Q. Explain!
    A. It’s simple really. We have a bunch of players who have gone out of their way to prove me and others wrong time and time again. (I actually think they do it deliberately to piss us pessimists off!! They deprive us of our fix of pessimism regularly!)
    Q. How’s that?
    A. They are thick, stubborn bastards who won’t give up until they do win it. And then what will we moan about! Chrisht I won’t be able to stick it at all at all.
    Q. We better book the auld City Wesht …..just in case anyway?
    A. I suppose. I bet ya the feckers won’t have cabbage and bacon on the menu either. What’ll we ate? That aul luse annya or whatever ya call it! Pure shyte if ya ask me. [Tongue in cheek emoticon here]

  15. Still can’t talk about it, think about it, read about it, dream about it. Not yet. This is the first winter where even the club games haven’t lifted me out of the mire.

    But it will pass as it always does and the optimism of the players and management can’t be anything but encouraging. I’m sure a cold crisp day in January will be enough to get the blood pumping and the bug biting. We’ll go again.

  16. I’d say there a quite a few hoping you don’t renew, eager subs.

    Go on , make their day!!!

  17. Mayo got the rub of the green on the U20 draw, Leitrim in the semi final while Sligo,Roscommon and Galway will have to battle it out to reach the final. Championship starts in June

  18. Thanks you for this post, a healing post! Yes, we roll on to 2018, but more importantly we ALL ROLL ON TOGETHER! Hard this year as we were so close, even closer than the past, it will happen!! Maigh Eo Abú always!!!

  19. @pj Mc manus people with season tickets are real supporters too. I got mine in 2010 after we were beaten by mighty Longford. I wlll Renew again. Everyone is different it takes some people Longer than others to get over all ireland final defeats and bring themselves to watch re runs of the games etc.

  20. what I hope is to see fresh Blood in the league

    we are extremely close, so close, everyone will be saying its do or die for this team in 2018

  21. I’m just waiting for my bank account to allow me to renew my ticket. Not feckin cheap.

    Have to say the club football on offer in Mayo this year was just class. Seen some really brilliant games at all grades since September.

    All going well the next month could see three Mitchels games in a Connacht. Before we know it, we’ll be freezing our collective arses off in MacHale Park and beyond in January. And I can’t wait!!

  22. will mayogaa tv be showing the connacht club championships in the various grades?

    The evolvement of online tv / streaming is a hugely exciting area. Will mayogaa tv be able to show FBD games? I assume with the various licenensing contracts that the Allianz League and Championship have in place, these respective championships will be unable to be broadcast online. You would think a highlights option and possible interviews with county players during the season would have a certain attraction with the supporters.

    For someone that criticises the county board on a regular basis, this is something they deserve a fair degree of credit as the feedback so for has been very positive.

  23. If extra financial resources were available to Stephen and the Management Team in 2018 – it could make the difference. Big Business’s in Mayo should be targeted and encouraged to help the Team financially, and every one on this site should buy tickets in the Mayo Development Annual Draw, the more money that is pumped into preparing Our Team, the more likely we could get the result in September that we all crave for. Mayo played brilliant football last September but if they were more composed in front of the posts we could have lead by five points at the interval instead of a one point lead (we lead Kerry by 5 in the replay) and as a result we ran out winners in the second half. That level of composure requires a lot of work put in to mental preparation, and all that costs a lot of money. Galway Hurlers put a lot of work into mental preparation – it paid off…( they were favourites for the All Ireland from the League final and they dealt with that pressure very well). Donoghue brought a mental toughness to the Galway set-up it was reported, if Stephen succeeds in bringing a mental toughness to the Mayo Team next year, we have every chance. New players will have to be added to the panel for the new year, but if they are not put on a physical conditioning programme they will not do themselves justice. Conor Loftus and Fergal Boland, Brian Reape and CiaranTreacy are great prospects but they they need more power (muscle)….. see the physical condition of young Con O’ Callaghan when he was introduced by the Dubs.

  24. Off topic I know, but I’m really disappointed about the poor showing (looks like it’s gone) of the Rugby WC bid.

    Key issue was the state of the stadia, and here the GAA stadia have flopped really. Yes I know the bid wouldn’t have got off the ground if not for the GAA but this has shown we are way behind others in stadia development. And frankly some of the stadia look pretty bad. Thurles has gone way down, Nolan Park is awful, and while a lot of work has been done on McHale Park, a lot more needs to be done. Even the Belfast showpiece which does look good on video clips, is by no means a done deal on the planning side.

    As a country we have been exposed by this failure. Yes a charm offensive might pull it off, but even if that’s the case, there’s a hell of a lot of work to be done.

  25. Fair point Gerard, but it’s a very different story playing a “professional” team like Dublin who were going for 3-in-a-row and 5 out of the last 7, versus playing Waterford who haven’t won All-Ireland in almost as long as ourselves.
    We definitely should have been further up at HT though – an early goal conceded, soft frees awarded against us towards end of half and some poor wides accounted for that.

  26. @catcol was looking at rugby bid but don’t think they wanted terracing for any knock out games.even the new pitch in cork has terraces.yes even the Belfast ground might not get go ahead in time .

    Also our capital city has no rail/underground link to the airport .
    Also price of accommodation as mayo supporters know in Dublin is a joke and it not much cheaper in other cities either.

    Transport would be a big issue to I would imagine.not the easiest country to get around using public transport.

  27. Yes @Aidan infrastructure is very creaky, though the rail links between the venues are all there. Airport to city centre in Dublin is a joke. And yes, terracing is a no no, though they can put in seating where there is only a small section to be addressed. GAA grounds have too much terracing – stands seem to be an afterthought and just dumped in at one side of the field.

  28. MacHale Park looks like a Russian Cold War era stadium. The stand while good as poles and the “blue” seats still annoy me. For the life of me I can’t understand why we can’t at least paint the edges of the concrete seats green and red..

  29. I have renewed my season ticket for myself and son even though i think the gaa are blagarding the season ticket holders. ON the captaincy issue,i think cillian should be relieved of the captaincy duty and he should be replaced by aidan o shea with the vice- captain being lee keegan.I think cillian will play a lot better without the captaincy responsibilities,and aidan will rise to the occasion by being captain.IF aidan is deemed good enough to captain ireland he is good enough to captain mayo.

  30. My team of the senior/inter club chamionships:
    I think below delivered for their clubs big time.
    Rory Byrne
    Johnny Maughan Ger McDonagh Jamie Oates
    Trevor Nally Shane Nally Patrick Durcan
    Barry Moran Jason Gibbons
    Liam Moran Cillian OConnor James Durcan
    Colm Moran Peter Nuaghton Brian Reape

  31. Dublin City was ahead of the rest we are told, back in the day of the British. Don’t fool ourselves. Rail links from City to Airport are an International standard. Sealed dirt tracks with road markings are not. Too many of our stadia were built through good community spirits and a lot of pulling together, with no eye on International sporting standards in mind. I am not trying to knock that approach just pointing out that non of the County Boards have a revenue stream in place to upgrade and extend their existing infra-structure. Its a more ad hoc approach. We have always been leaders when it came to bailing out banks for sure.

  32. JP very interesting I would be inclined to add John Leonard and Crowe to the above list. One poster earlier pointed out how entertaining the club championship has been this year Except for the senior final which I found a bit of an anti climax all the other games were great. Some huge performances over the last 5 weeks.

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