Four in a row. Whether it is four points in succession, four wins on the trot, four provincial titles in a row or four All-Ireland titles back to back it is a nice thing to be able to say.
This Sunday Mayo welcome the old enemy Galway to our own hunting ground in MacHale Park as James Horan and his men go in search of a fourth Connaught title in succession.
Many people, both in Mayo and from outside the county, will tell you that a Connaught title means nothing anymore. That it is all about winning Sam Maguire or nothing at all. I do not buy into that belief for one second.
Four provincial titles in a row is something that Mayo have not been able to do since the heady years for 1948 to 1951 when they reached three All-Ireland finals, coming out on top in the latter two of those showpiece games.
Keith Higgins has spoken in the past few days about how much it still means to him to win a Connaught title and you can be damn sure that there are many more in the squad who will say the same thing.
Think of the likes of Robbie Hennelly who has not been a part of the three in a row up to this point, Jason Gibbons who hasn’t played in any of the finals so far and the young guns of Diarmuid O’Connor and Conor O’Shea who have zero senior Connaught titles.
Not to even mention just how much Gavin Duffy will want to get a senior medal with Mayo!
As Mayo supporters we have, in general, been spoiled over the past 20 years or so with the amount of Connaught titles the Green and Red have brought home with them. Considering the lean years of the late Sixties through to the late Eighties there is no reason that we should start taking these titles for granted.
The best way to win an All-Ireland, especially for Mayo considering we just don’t do the qualifiers regardless of how many rounds we are involved in, is through the front door. Winning is a habit and winning a Connaught title gives everyone a huge boost heading into August and Croke Park because we will be heading there as champions of Connaught.
At the end of the day the All-Ireland championship is all about stages. The first stage is to ensure that you are kings of your own kingdom and over the past few years Mayo have proven themselves to be the undisputed kings of the kingdom of Connaught.
Dublin have won nine of the last ten Leinster titles but every one of their players will tell you that winning this year’s title will be just as satisfying and important as the rest. Kerry win an average of one Munster title every two years yet they were delighted to take home that trophy last Sunday. And you only need to look at any game in the Ulster championship to see just how important it is to be considered the best up there.
Galway are the one team above everyone else who would take the most joy in knocking Mayo from their perch in Connaught and are the one team that would pain me the most to see ending James Horan’s unbeaten run in the province.
Having not won a provincial title in five years, and having watched their record number of titles being overhauled by their nearest and dearest enemy will have Galway more than ready to try and claim a 45th Nestor Cup.
The Mayo players and supporters need to be ready to match the intensity and desire to win that Galway will bring with them to Castlebar this Sunday. Keith Higgins’s remarks suggest to me that the players are ready for that. As supporters we must stand up, be counted and not take this game or this trophy for granted.
You can listen to Mike, and all the CRC sports team, every Saturday at 2pm on ‘Over The Bar’ on CRCfm as well as during the week on ‘The Grapevine’ where he does the sports analysis every day.
This Saturday there are special guests looking ahead to the Connaught final, including Mayo GAA legends John O’Mahony and Martin Carney alongside interviews with James Horan, Keith Higgins, Cian Hanley and Enda Gilvarry.