How Mayo lost an All-Ireland in the boardroom and when the Green above the Red first appeared 

Author of On This Day In Mayo, Máirtín Ó Maicín with Cathaoirleach of Mayo County Council, Councillor Michael Loftus, who launched the book at its Mayo launch at the Wild Atlantic Words festival in Castlebar. Photo: John Mee Photography

The widely-acclaimed book, On This Day In Mayo, by Máirtín Ó Maicín will be launched in Dublin this Wednesday, November 22, at 7pm.

Former Taoiseach Enda Kenny will launch the book at the Croke Park Hotel in Drumcondra in what is expected to be a big gathering for the Mayos in Dublin. 

All are welcome to attend. To give a flavour for the book, in this post we’re publishing two GAA-related entries. There are over 20 entries alone pertaining to the GAA in Mayo in this fascinating book. 

From sport to politics, from education to religion and from the environment to space travel, men and women with Mayo blood have left their mark on the world stage and so many great stories from our county are recorded here.

Former Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, has described the book as ‘an absolute treasure chest of facts, data and information’.

He went on to say that the book should be left where it can be read and talked about.

“Every story I read in the fine publication I can hear a call of the past and a challenge of the future,” he said.

The book has proven extremely popular since its release in October and makes for an ideal Christmas gift for anyone with a grá for Mayo.

The book is on sale in all good bookshops and can be bought online from Mayo Books (here) and shipped anywhere in the world.

January 23/23 Eanáir the Green above the Red

A GAA team from Mayo first wore the iconic green and red colours on Sunday, 23 January 1887

Plaque in Towerhill, Ballyglass which commemorates the first time that the green and red of Mayo was worn. Picture: Frank Dolan

In the early days of the GAA, one of Mayo’s most renowned clubs was Tower Hill, situated in the parish of Carnacon. And though they have since ceased to exist, they remain the first club in the county to have worn the iconic colours associated with Mayo, donning them for the first time when playing Belcarra at a match in Tower Hill Demesne on 23 January 1887. 

This would have been a natural progression at the time since the club adopted the words, ‘The Green Above the Red’, as its motto only two years earlier. 

On the day in question, Colonel Maurice Blake, the local Catholic landlord who sponsored the club, decided to demonstrate his political allegiance by bedecking the ground with banners displaying the distinctive colours which would ultimately play a symbolic role in the county’s story. A plaque was erected on the demesne wall in July 2010 to record this event. 

But the colours weren’t merely decided upon on a whim. Belcarra, their opponents in the game, were sponsored by the Brownes, a Protestant landlord family. Blake insisted that the players wear the colours in reference to the sentiments of Dr Thomas Croke, the historically-significant Archbishop of Cashel during the early years of the GAA, as expressed in a letter to GAA founder Michael Cusack. 

In his letter to Cusack whereby he accepted an invitation to become patron of the GAA, Croke asserted that if the Irish did not stand up to express their nationality, that nationalists may just as well ‘clap hands for joy at the sight of the Union Jack, and place “England’s bloody red exultantly above the green”’. 

The colours would eventually be adopted as the county colours years later during a county board meeting boasting a rather patriotic tone. When the issue was posed, Balla’s Dick Walsh, secretary of the board, was unequivocal when sharing his feelings on the matter. After the suggestion that Mayo’s colours were now ‘red and green’, he responded, rather forcefully, ‘Not so’. 

‘Let there be no doubt in the mind of anyone, the Mayo colours are green above the red,’ he retorted. ‘God forbid Mayo would ever have red above the green.’ 

With that, the Mayo colours were decided upon. And they have continued to represent the county even if most of its populace remain oblivious to the subtle Fenian undertones. Those present at Tower Hill Demesne in 1887 were certainly aware of the significance. 


Letter From Archbishop Croke To Michael Cusack On The GAA, 1884. 

O’Hara, Bernard. Exploring Mayo. Killasser/Callow Heritage Society, 2017. 

Reilly, Terry, and Ivan Neill. The Green Above The Red, 1985. 

December 5/5 NollaigMayo lose All-Ireland in the boardroom 

The GAA Central Council ruled against Mayo’s claim to the All-Ireland championship on Saturday, 5 December 1925

Frank Dolan and Tom Gillespie at the launch of Máirtín Ó Maicíns book “On This Day in Mayo” at the Wild Atlantic Words festival. Photo: John Mee Photography

No county has witnessed as much pain and heartbreak, as far as Gaelic football is concerned, as Mayo. But the pain and heartbreak didn’t start after the county’s back-to-back successes that hastened a drought in the early 1950s.

The story of the 1925 All-Ireland championship is deserving of mention in any discussion relating to Mayo’s unfortunate record in the All-Ireland championship. The history books state that Mayo won their first All-Ireland title in September 1936 but that doesn’t necessarily tell the full story of Mayo’s record in finals during the first half of the 20th century. Though the records state that Galway won their first title in 1925, Mayo had a very strong claim to it. 

The story of the 1925 football championship is indeed extraordinary in the extreme. The Connacht championship was delayed due to a number of draws between Sligo and Roscommon and, as the All-Ireland fixture date was looming near, Mayo were nominated, as reigning Connacht champions, to represent the province at the semi-final stage. They duly met Wexford, the Leinster champions, on 30 August 1925 and, after an epic encounter, the western side emerged victorious. 

The second semi-final pairing saw Cavan face Kerry with both sides subsequently lodging objections against one another. The hearing of the objections resulted in both teams being declared illegal by the GAA’s Central Council and, accordingly, Mayo, as the winners of the other semi-final, were declared All-Ireland champions. 

Meanwhile, back in Connacht, Sligo eventually defeated Roscommon and went on to meet Mayo in the Connacht semi-final. Mayo duly won. They then faced Galway, who initially refused to meet Mayo in the rescheduled Connacht final. When the game was eventually played, Galway were the victors and, in a bizarre move, the Central Council declared Galway the 1925 All-Ireland champions, despite Mayo claiming that the match was merely a provincial final. 

Mayo County Board and the Connacht Council protested strongly at the decision to award the All-Ireland to the Tribesmen, but their protests were in vain. 

The Central Council met on 5 December to hear the case and, following a long drawn-out discussion, the chairman ruled that he was not prepared to diverge from his earlier decision, and Galway held on to their first All-Ireland title. 


Reilly, Terry, and Ivan Neill. The Green Above The Red. 1985.
‘GAA – The Senior Connacht Championship: Connacht Council Decision’. Western People, 1925. 

‘Galway Champions: GAA Council’s Long Sitting’. Western People, 1925.
‘Why Galway Are Champions’. Irish Independent, 1925. 

50 thoughts on “How Mayo lost an All-Ireland in the boardroom and when the Green above the Red first appeared 

  1. Jesus Willie Joe – I thought I had seen us lose all Irelands every way possible – missed penalties, OGs, players sent off etc.
    Now you tell us we even lost one in a boardroom!!

  2. I heard this story as a kid from my uncle and any time i mentioned it in the company of tribesmen it was usually passed of as an old wives tale or something like that but not anymore after this.. Amazing to think Galway have an all ireland title without playing outside of the connacht championship. Well done on the book

  3. The former player and goal keeper Mick Corkery (came onto the 1951 panel after their All ireland win) always said that the greatest hindrance to those subsequent Mayo teams from gaining further success, was always the county board and boardroom officials. Back then, county board suits picked the team!

    Very interesting backstory to the county colours. Never knew that.

  4. To be fair if the county board picked the team in 50 and 51 they didnt do a bad job. I wonder would they have taken Freeman off in the 13 final or started Flanagan in the 97 final or started Hennelly……. ah whats the point

  5. To be fair to the management teams that we have had over the last number of years ,can anyone explain to me why would they decide that we are winning this game so I will take off the players that are winning it for us,it doesn’t make sense to me,I would expect that they have a genuine reason for making changes,perhaps someone will inform us why they do it,I will give up my final ticket if someone can convince me that they done it to lose the game,or that having kept them on would have won the game for us?

  6. That book should be a great read, the Towerhill story is a good one and not one many know I’d say. There are a few versions of it the Connaught Telegraph done a big piece on it a while back. The green and red were selected after a game between Ballintubber (red) and Carnacon (green) maybe it was the 2 clours that made a final or maybe that was some sort of inaugral match where the colours were picked / combined, there are a few versions of it so I’m sure a few historians on here will put it straight !

  7. I’m just back home from the book launch and have an autographed copy of the book with me. It’s a huge piece of work, one to leaf through again and again for sure. Delighted to have a copy of it.

  8. Jesus corrick obviously no management take off a player to lose a game .it’s what’s called making the wrong call under pressure or making a mistake.It is the generally the difference between a good manager and a not so good one .your comments continue to amaze me or maybe you are being mischievous ???

  9. 1985,that is your opinion,and to be fair when I was young I used to criticise players and management,but as I got older I realised that I didn’t have a clue what was happening within the squad or in training,I know that the management have full knowledge about fitness and health problems,I was only asking the question how people know that leaving on certain players would have won us the match,or not playing certain players lost us the match,my offer stands,I will give my final ticket to someone who can prove that it would have changed the outcome,if you can do so I will be more than happy to give my ticket to you,surely easy to understand

  10. Corick of course no one can prove that categorically so your ticket is safe.

    Likewise you do not know for sure management have a full knowledge about fitness and health problems, unless you are one of the Management, which would actually make some sense….

    All people can do on discussion forums such as this is give their best educated opinions. e.g. I do not feel it was wise to go against the Doctors advice by leaving Carney on after him signaling to sideline to have him taken off. He is involved in the loss of ball in next play after this. so there is evidence to back the belief, but not categorical proof that same would not have happened had he not been deemed unfit to play.

  11. You are great craic corrick.the entertainment continues.In your world there would be no football pundits with no analysis on how games are won and lost .Do you not think that management have any role at all in actually managing a game and their decisions have a bearing on how that game unfolds.You do realise this is a discussion forum on mayo football but of course when I asked you earlier this year if you were happy with the mayo management in 1993 .you replied that you were very happy with JOHN MAUGHAN so “I rest my case”

  12. Of course the need for a ticket for next years final will be remote if management don’t put in place key elements we were missing this year:
    1. a Kick out strategy
    2. A defensive plan, that will protect the D and goal
    3. Attacking plan that will work against blanket defenses

    We also need to develop more natural midfielders, given what we seen in club championship we have no obvious Fenton style player coming our way in next couple of seasons.

    But the players are back training already for what will hopefully another long year like last year.

  13. Of the pundits were any good they would be actually be managing a team,as Kevin McStay decided to do,because he will win Sam

  14. I am sure everyone on this blog wishes Kevin mcstay the best of luck next year.I was delighted when he got his opportunity and would be hopeful that the lessons from this year will have been learned but unfortunately for anyone who take on a management role they know exactly what they are stepping into.high praise when things go right and criticism when it goes badly wrong because the buck stops with the person on the sideline that makes the critical calls.I was in the davin end when Alan freeman was taken off in 2013 final.he wasn’t exactly causing havoc but he was causing enough problems to keep the two Dublin corner backs McMahon and cooper in position.once freeman was removed McMahon and cooper began to bomb forward.continuing to repeat something over and over again without ever producing a shred of a fact is very strange because no corrick no one can say for definite that taking a player off changes the result of a game but you can claim that Kevin mcstay will win the all Ireland next year

  15. Corrick you don’t appear capable of any sort of debate.who on here ever made the daft claim that you are making.maybe you might answer a question for a change.Do you believe that the management of any team in any sport have no bearing or no responsibility on the outcome of a game

  16. And by the way corrick you also claim that a virus was responsible or at least had a huge bearing on the defeat against cork .can you show us the proof of this virus and how it impacted the mayo players performance that day

  17. I see Kerry GAA are running a two day “train the coaches” course aimed at club coaches in Kerry.
    There is a very impressive line up of speakers/sessions covering a number of topics including how to develop an attacking plan and a defensive plan for your team.
    No let up down there on trying to continously drive up standards to the next level. Have we a similar course in Mayo aimed at club coaches to lift the standard. If not – we are falling further behind.

  18. We’ve yet another new podcast episode up on Patreon. This one’s an in-depth 40-minute discussion with Jordan Flynn, who, of course, was voted on the blog as our Player of the Year. The discussion covers Jordan’s progression from impact sub to first fifteen player. He also talks candidly about that red card in the 2018 U20 final and why playing for Mayo means so much for him. It’s a great listen.

  19. Spoke really well. Future captain.Either him or ROD next season.
    He recently started working with a renowned Speed coach from Tipp who has worked with Aaron Gillane and Waterford hurlers, thats how serious hes taking his football now.

  20. Colmans swept aside Leitrim by 12 points today in Carrick on Shannon. Early days yet but they looked very impressive, even with mayo Minor Darragh Beirne having an off day.
    Eoin Mcgreal absolutely outstanding at full back, looks an elite prospect.
    Niall Hurley best player on display of course, absolutely crazy this young man is still only in leaving cert, when he’s been around for what seems ages? Handy 3-7 ish from play today.

  21. The Dublin clubs have been doing this train the Coaches, I took part in such an event back in 2015.

  22. JoeG, no relation as far as I know. Stephen is a claremorris man through and through, via his dad JP. eoin seems garrymore without question but I could be wrong. Savage footballer

  23. I want to thank Willie Joe for all the information he gives us,and hopefully he will indulge me one more time,because this is the last time that I will mention it.I don’t see any point whatsoever in harping on a about a substitution from over ten years ago and management team no longer involved in managing our team,in fact I would suggest o my sweet lord,please don’t look back in anger,my advice would be to always look on the bright side of life,and agree that it is a wonderful world,and anticipate listening to the green and red of Mayo ringing around Croke Park

  24. Sure might as well get rid of the archive as well if don’t want to be looking back and retrospectively discussing past events. Wouldn’t it save a fierce load a work 🙂

  25. Corrick I referenced the Alan freeman substitution as an example in reply to your comment as to would a management make a substitution to lose a game .I could also have referenced Kerry bringing on Kiaran donaghy against us in 2014 which completely changed the direction of that game .football and sport in general is not an exact science and human error comes into it and a substitution is made to either consolidate or change the course of game a decision that is made by the management on the sideline otherwise there would be no need to have anyone in charge.I have absolutely nothing against any previous or present mayo management teams.I am just presenting facts but again can you answer my question do you believe that that the management of any team has no role to play during the course of a game in determining the result

  26. I believe that all management teams do their best without fear of favour,without getting pad for the time and enormous amount of time that they give to our enjoyment,as does the players who give their time for our enjoyment, please don’t look back in anger

  27. Ok corrick I get it you don’t want to answer because it Willl disprove your bizarre theories .I am certainly not looking back in anger and have great memories of many great days in croker but of course if we continue to make the same mistakes we will never get to be where all Mayo people aspire to reach .Obviously management try their best or otherwise they wouldn’t get involved in the first place.and you don’t think inter county managements get paid for their time ??

  28. 1985, of course they don’t get paid that’s against GAA ethos.
    Rochford, Buckley, Harte et Al travel the highways and byways from from their native lands to Donegal, Mayo, Louth etc. for the love of the game and the betterment of their fellow Gaels….

  29. I know gizmo totally against the rules.what was the investigation into under the table payments said oh yea that they couldn’t even find the table.oh lord I give up I have heard it all now

  30. When junior Club managers in Mayo getting up on €15,000 the under the table cash at county level must be great money spinner.
    Imagine if what the army involved with our senior team this year are getting had to be added to on top of the huge official bill we have for this season we’d be forking out.

  31. Gizmobobs any proof whatsoever,if you have inform the tax authorities,it is just jealously,these people are giving their time for our enjoyment,just stop

  32. I think it’s best to agree at this stage yes indeed we all believe the mayo management get paid after each training session with a cup of coffee and a pink snack and a bonus of a packet of cheese and onion crisps as a win bonus .donie Buckley gets two packets as he has further to travel

  33. Corick your definitely the best Troll in action here 🙂

    The fact GAA county boards admitted to it in anonymous polls and that past GAA president’s that investigated the issue found it to be a serious issue is not enough for you.

    As a wise man once said: “What I’ve found in my research is that realism and self-honesty are the antidote to ego, hubris, and delusion.”

    1985, heading for 9 years driving up and down few times a week from Limerick/Clare/Kerry for nothing bar the price of a coffee. We should get a statue commissioned. 🙂 🙂

  34. Stop giving out to each other.
    I understand that a lot of Counties are flat out training.
    Closed season my arse!!

  35. JR our crew are working away in pods I think, with a view to hitting grass together the weekend.
    The closed season training is like the managers payments, blind eye turned.

  36. When we hit top gear we are capable of beating any of the top counties , when we don’t hit top form any of the top counties are capable of beating us along with some medium tier also , you’ll never win an all Ireland with a team at that level .

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *