Everyone all calm again after yesterday’s discussion about the ‘h’ word? Good, because here’s Mike Kelly with a stirring call to arms ahead of Sunday’s All-Ireland semi-final.
I love coming on this website and reading the articles and comments, positive and negative, from everyone. This is the great thing about the GAA that we can all have our own opinions and they all be valid but at the end of the day we all realise that it is 15 vs 15 and the better team invariably wins on the day.
Next Sunday I can see that better team being the Green and Red of Mayo. I have looked over the performances of this Mayo team since the start of the league, unfortunately due to work I was not able to attend every league game, and I have seen this Mayo team come together and develop slowly as the year has gone on. During the league it seemed to be a bit too slow at times but always remember that the tortoise won the race, not the hare.
In every position on the field Mayo have a top class performer, particularly 2-10 where we have probably one of the top 3 in the country this season in every position, and we have ten forwards playing at the very top of their game fighting it out for six positions. Mickey Conroy and Jason Doherty have not even featured yet due to injury and they were our best players in the league, Richie Feeney, Cathal Carolan and Enda Varley would be welcome additions to almost any squad in the country and they can only make Mayo’s bench. That type of strength in depth has been built up over the past three seasons and 2013 is more than likely looked at as a make-or-break season for this current squad and management.
Remember when James Horan took the job he said it was a three-year plan he had in mind and that was repeated throughout the 2011 season. That three-year plan has so far delivered an NFL final, 3 Connaught titles, 3 All-Ireland semi-finals and an All-Ireland final. The team have progressed every year with a semi and then final over the past two seasons. Logic dictates that this team are on the right track and that an All-Ireland this year is a must for them. The work has no doubt been put in and Horan, Nallen et al. will have their homework done on Tyrone.
With all the above taken into consideration I do not believe that hype will play into things at all. Hype is great for the supporters! How drab would the county look if we did not fly flags, paint sheep, hang banners and everything else all around the place? If we all put away our flags and our jerseys next Sunday evening until the day of the final (presuming Mayo are there)? If nobody mentioned #mayogaa or #seaofgreenandred on Twitter or Facebook? If none of us tuned into ‘Up for the Match’ or didn’t speak of the final itself until the day had arrived? Imagine that world for FOUR weeks of a build-up to this year’s final (presuming Mayo are there)?
Personally I would not want to be in that world. I would rather shout it from the rooftops that I believe Mayo 2013 are good enough to win the All-Ireland. I believe AOS, COC, Ger Caff and Rob Hennelly are all good enough to end the famine and give us all a new set of heroes to talk about long into our old age. That O’Connor and Vaughan can take over from Carney and Flanagan as the names on all our lips when talking about great players who HAVE won an All-Ireland medal. I will fly my flag, wear my jersey and speak with confidence about Mayo 2013 to every person because I am proud to be from Mayo and I am proud to have these lads represent me and my county on the playing field.
When I was in Australia for the 2011 season it broke my heart. Not being here to see Dillon lift the Nestor cup, not seeing that fantastic win and Kevin McLoughlin’s goal against Cork, having my heart broken in Croke Park by Kerry once again (a game before which I had priced flights home for a potential final) I had to watch from afar as the James Horan experiment began. I did get to see all the games on television, but as the GAA slogan goes ‘nothing beats being there’.
In 2012 I arrived home just in time for the Connaught final and following the fantastic win against Down I knew there was no way I could go back to Australia with Mayo playing the Dubs. A lot of people thought I was mad but I stood on Hill 16 last September and I watched O’Connor, McLoughlin, O’Shea and all the rest tear the ‘blue machine’ apart from within enemy territory and I roared and cheered with the confidence that was afforded to me that day by virtue of being from the magnificent county of Mayo. Once again, however, my heart was broken in Croke Park by another team in green and gold – Donegal. But it was all part of the master plan. That was only year two and Mayo had gone one step further than year one.
Now we are in year three and the final step is ready to be taken. I was there when Galway were put to the sword, when Roscommon and London were left seeing stars and, most pleasing of all, when revenge was gained against Donegal and the ‘system’ was systematically destroyed. That day there was only one Jimmy that was winning matches.
Up next is game five and Tyrone. A tricky prospect no doubt but most definitely a mountain Mayo can climb. I have heard a lot about how Mayo will need some luck or Mayo have not been tested or Mayo lack a marquee forward and without these things Sam couldn’t possibly head West for the winter. Well I disagree. To win an All-Ireland you need only two things, belief and the ability to be the very best. Mayo 2013 are certainly leading contenders when it comes to that.
Hype or no hype this side have the capability to go all the way, and I for one will be standing proudly in Croke Park each and every time those men take the field and I will leave my voice behind me from cheering them on loudly and proudly. I will be flying my flag, as I did in the Hill, and I will applaud every tackle, every shot and every attempt by a man in green and red and at the end of it all I will stand and I will cheer and I will applaud those heroes off the field. Win, Lose or Draw!
Bring your colour this Sunday, folks, and embrace the hype. Horan has the team nicely looked after and now we must look after ourselves. Flags and jerseys at the ready. Game five to come. Let’s make Croke Park a #seaofgreenandred so when those Mayo players walk onto the field they know that the entire county is behind them and that somebody did remember to turn out the lights! See you all in Bowe’s, the Findlater or McGrath’s this weekend with a bit of luck.
Maigh Eo Abú.