It’s All-Ireland final day. Once again, for the sixth time in ten years, we’re in it, striving with everything we’ve got to win it.
Those of a certain age – for sure, everyone of my generation – have to pinch themselves to believe that year after year we’ve remained up at these giddy heights. That this level has become our natural habitat. Year after year.
Once again, this year we’re back in the final. Like we were so often in recent years, only this time with a new code for us to crack on football’s biggest day.
Not that long ago it seemed that Dublin’s powers were so all-encompassing that we’d all have to get used to life under the penumbra of their perpetual, dreary dominance. But then we stormed that citadel and we opened up all kinds of new possibilities.
And so now, today, we get the chance to cash in that down-payment we made when we beat the six-in-a-row champions. For what it’s worth I think it’s to our advantage that Kerry failed to make the final either. Had they done so they’d be very strong favourites today and our record as underdogs in the final isn’t a pretty one.
Instead we get to tango with Tyrone. A team we’ve a very good record against in big Championship games at Croke Park but a county that apparently can’t countenance that it might be the one that would finally fail to beat the county that has lost all those finals since 1989.
But here’s the thing: Tyrone don’t get to play all those teams from previous years. Decent teams some of them were, great teams a few of them were too but all, for whatever reason, came up against teams that had more – more than once just fractionally more – than our lads had on previous final days.
No, the team Tyrone must beat today is this Mayo team and this Mayo team isn’t planning to get beaten today.
The funny thing is that, to win this All-Ireland, this Mayo team doesn’t have to be the best team from the county of all time. They don’t have to be the best we’ve produced since 1951. They don’t – and almost certainly aren’t – the best we’ve fielded since 2011.
All they need to be today is better than the team they’re set to face at 5pm. It’s going to be a hell of a battle but when the dust settles I firmly believe we’ll have done this.
Padraig O’Hora spoke for all of us in the aftermath of the semi-final win over Dublin. We’re not going to stop until we reach the summit. We have only one plan and today’s the day that plan comes to fruition.
We can do this. We will do this. Today’s the day we’re going to do it.
Mayo for Sam.