Image: @alanjones81 (via Twitter)
Just two days to go now until the Connacht final, where London will be making history by appearing in the provincial decider for the first time and where our lads will also be aiming for their own slice of history by becoming the first county to complete a hat-trick of Connacht titles since Galway back in 1984 and the first Mayo team to do so since their great predecessors in 1950. Which is why, of course, that the road graffiti on l’Alpe d’Huez yesterday should have read “Mayo for Nestor”. One game at a time and all that.
Seeing as we’re 1/500 to win, I thought it might be a good idea at the outset today to have a look at previous Connacht final results in order to see how high the bar is for Sunday in terms of record beatings. Although we’ve had almost a full decade of closely-fought provincial deciders – our facile 2-13 to 0-9 win over Roscommon in the 2004 decider was the last clear-cut Connacht final win – there have been plenty of scutchings handed out down on provincial final day down the years, even in recent enough memory. The 16-point thumping that Galway gave us in Tuam in 1982 is still etched in my mend as a particularly painful example of this and the 14-point drubbing that the Rossies – who that day completed a provincial four-in-a-row – meted out to us in Hyde Park in 1980 isn’t exactly a cosy, sepia-tinted memory either.
The biggest pounding of all, though, in a Connacht decider was handed out by us, when we whipped a hapless Leitrim by a full 20 points, 4-15 to 0-7, in the 1967 decider at Tuam. That, then, is the target the lads have to aim at on Sunday and with Paddy Power only offering us at 6/4 to win by that much it’s not at all fanciful to think we won’t be too far off that margin by the time the final whistle is blown. We shall see.
There are a few match previews up already. The one on GAA.ie states baldly that a Leitrim (oops!) London win would rank as the greatest upset in the history of the association, which I guess it probably would be. RTÉ don’t have their match preview up on their site yet but Kevin McStay’s audio version is here and Martin Carney has a piece on the game here.
Over on Action81.com, Emmet Ryan focuses on Mayo’s strategic objectives going into Sunday’s provincial decider and he reckons that, from our perspective, the punishment London are likely to face shouldn’t end until the final whistle is blown. Mike Kelly (who has guested here betimes) sets out a similar argument over on his site, where he also provides a preview of the game.
John Casey provides his pre-match thoughts in the Mayo Advertiser and his preview comes with two handy tips – don’t forget the sun-tan lotion and get there in time to shout for the minors. The Irish Independent, meanwhile, has features on both Andy Moran and Alan Dillon.
Finally, if you haven’t yet done so, then you simply must take the time to listen to the Mayo News football podcast, which is here. This pre-match staple is now nearing legendary status and in this edition Rob, Ed, Danny and Mike are joined by Martin Carney, whose recounting of his memories of the team’s trip to London in 1986 is just hilarious. And he uses the word ‘bullshit’ too. See, I told you it’s worth a listen.