Fellow Mayo fans and readers, I’m sorry.
Why am I sorry? I’ve neglected the blog for the past while and I’ve also neglected Mayo GAA for the last couple of months.
Moving to Dublin threw me off guard and starting for JOE.ie has been a hard and testing experience. When I come home after spending the whole day or night looking at a screen, writing, it’s the last thing I want to do.
That’s why I’ve been absent from the blog.
As for Mayo GAA, working weekends is essential in this job and the luck of the draw did not pull in my favour over the months of June and July. I had to resort to watching the Green and Red on a television screen in my office.
(For the Cork game, that screen in the office was reduced to my laptop screen and a dodgy YouTube link. Cheers Sky Sports).
Even visits to the Motherland (to visit the mother and the land) have been few and far between. Walking the streets of Dublin breaks my heart because you might be lucky to see one Mayo flag or jersey in the week.
You couldn’t imagine my delight when I found out I was off for the Roscommon game.
It was special for me, not only was I following Mayo back in Croker again, but I was following my county properly again for the first time since May. Not being able to do so in the months since honestly broke my heart.
As I joined the sea of green and red walking down Jones’ Road, I remembered the last time I had stepped foot here. That was on 1st October last year, walking up that same path with the sky full of blue flames but my eyes full of tears.
I hadn’t thought about it much since. Why would you?
But as our group of friends joined the rest of the Mayo parade, I thought about it for a brief second, held back a tear and moved into 2017.
Office-bound for the Derry, Clare and Cork games, the first and the last were absolutely unbearable. You see, losing a lead, drawing a game and winning in extra-time is not something that any Mayo person’s heart takes well.
So having to do it twice in the space of a few weeks, in an office surrounded by professional journalists was not an easy task.
In the final moments of those games, I wanted to pick up every laptop, desk and chair in the place and fling it across the room, re-arrange them again only to do the same a few minutes later in extra-time.
I don’t hold emotions well when it comes to Mayo. I’m sure you’re the same, so there is no need for me to tell you what it’s like.
When Keegan’s goal hit the back of the net, I had to pinch myself to see if I was alive. This is heaven, this is hell, this is Mayo.
Is it Mayo if we don’t blow the seven-point lead? Is it Mayo if we don’t do the famous comeback, is it Mayo if we don’t do the great escape?
The Harry Houdinis of the football world.
Written off in June, semi-finalists in August – how is that honestly possible?
Has any team in any sport been kicked, punched and knocked so many times and got straight back up?
Same date, different year, same result. Knocked out in the province by Galway and the Rossies become Connacht Champions.
The mighty Mayo take the exit off the motorway and go the back route, the bog road, with the green grass in the middle of the path. It’s so narrow that there’s only room for one car to pass but Mayo plough on through no matter the traffic. The question is, though – how badly damaged is the car?
We’ve clocked up so many miles on this championship back road that poor old Betsy shouldn’t be chugging still, but she is, and will continue to do so for as long as she can.
And if the head gasket blows against Kerry and the wheels burst, that car has served us well.
Seven successive All-Ireland semi-finals in the last seven years, this team owes us absolutely nothing.
And we the fans owe them absolutely nothing either. Our support is immense. When we win, it’s the best feeling in the world and when times get tough, we bond together over the simplistic chant of Mayo, Mayo.
When sung by itself, it sounds stupid, when roared on by thousands of fans, it would pick any man off the ground and give him that extra bit of reserve fuel in the tank.
I was standing in the Hill for the first game and for the replay against Roscommon. My girlfriend is a nurse and I should have got her to check my blood pressure for both.
I didn’t know what to do with myself in the replay. We’re comfortably winning? I can actually enjoy this game? I don’t like this feeling, it’s alien.
After hammering the Rossies on Sunday, I promised myself something and every Mayo fan should do the same.
No expectations, no hope, just support.
If we win this All-Ireland, we deserve to win it hands down. But if we don’t, we can’t even be the slightest bit mad, because I don’t know about you but I for one, would rather have had a summer like this that ends in heartbreak every year than not experience it at all.
Nobody expected us to get to the final last year and nobody expects us to get to the final this year. But, we’re Mayo, we don’t follow social norms, we don’t do what people expect, we do things the hard way, the Mayo way.
And if we win an All-Ireland in 2017, it will be the Mayo-est win of all.