Next step: blocking out the noisy neighbours

It’s been just over two weeks since I heard that news. I was working June 11, 2-11pm and there was no getting out of it.

Why was I disappointed straight away? Because I knew that date was the one I had waited for since we beat Sligo.

Actually, it was the one I had waited for since the draw was made before Christmas on RTÉ to be honest.

I was stood in the Hole In The Wall bar in Galway with a bunch of Mayo lads and a string of Galway gurriers who had become our friends over the years.

As the Connacht draw came around, we bookmarked the day straight away. June 11th, Pearse Stadium, the old enemies battling once more.

We talked about the rivalry and tried to construct a combined starting XV of the last twenty years.

When I was growing up, Galway were the kingpins of Gaelic football not only in the West but in the entire country.

One of the first ever games I went to was a Galway game. I’m not sure of the year or the context of the match but I just remember we lost and as my mother and I made our way back to the car, a gang of young girls, probably the same age as me, starting singing ‘Galway are the best in the West’.

A stupid, simple almost nursery rhyme type chant but it stuck in my head forever. Every time I hear the word Galway GAA, I remember that chant thus remembering that defeat and it boils my blood.

We argued over various aspects of the XV, almost every position to be precise but there were two men that got the nod without any discussion at all – one Mayo man, Ciaran McDonald, and one Galway man, Padraig Joyce.

Joyce was a man you feared every time you played Galway, even in his later years you still kept an eye on him.

I had the chance to meet Joyce this year, a chance which I blew and I will probably never let myself forget it.

Myself and my girlfriend, Noelle, (who is a Tuam woman, more on that rivalry later) were in The Front Door for a night out, just the two of us.

They say two is company and three’s a crowd but I would gladly have welcomed this person into our conversation any day.

We were at the bar ordering drinks and out of the corner of my eye, I spot a man whom I think is Joyce.

I said it to herself and after a few minutes of deliberating whether it was him or whether the pints were playing tricks, we came to a startling conclusion. OF COURSE IT WAS HIM.

At this stage, he was surrounded by people at the bar so I said I’d go to the toilet and by the time I came back, he would be free and I would pop in and annoy his head like the many people that came before me.

The joys of social media. On my way to the bathroom I messaged a few of the lads to say that Joyce was in The Front Door and that I would send a selfie in a few minutes to prove it.

A few minutes was too long for two of my friends, Barry (Mayo) and Eoin (Galway). They lived less than two minutes walk from pub so why wait for me when they could go down and see the man in person themselves?

Long story short, by the time I had queued for the busy toilet and squeezed my way through the crowd again, Padraig was gone. Disgusted, I look at my phone to see where the girlfriend is only to find two respective pictures from Eoin and Barry… salt to the wounds.

Since I had just started with JOE, I didn’t want to push my luck either about taking the time off, I convinced myself it would be okay. Sure, I’d get to watch the match at work and isn’t it really the same thing at the end of the day (slowly trying not to cry while reiterating this sentence).

As the days have rolled by and I make my way down to Galway to see herself, the realisation has really hit me. She too is a die-hard fan, only she’s one of those. It’s okay for her, none of my family care about football so she doesn’t get any slagging. As for me, it can start sometimes from the minute I enter her door.

‘How many times have ye won Sam?’ Zero I’d reply. ‘Can you remember 1951?’ No I cannot I’d say. ‘Ye should have never overtaken that hearse!’ Oh, here we go!

I could bring the Galway hurlers into the frame in terms of successful teams not being rewarded but that could open a whole other can of worms. So instead I take my abuse, sip my tea and try to remember that I’m severely outnumbered.

Would I swap places with her? Probably not. Sure, she can remember Sam being in Galway twice but since 2001, she hasn’t had much to shout about.

My opinion of Galway GAA has changed in the last few years and that is because, since 2013, Galway became and still really is my second home.

I got my education there, I made friends there, I had great nights out there and I met Noelle there. I know the place as well as I know home at this stage.

Noelle came along to the replay with me in October and shouted and roared as hard as any Mayo person that day and even donned an old green and red jersey I had from circa ‘06. Would I do the same if it was the other way around? It’s hard to know. It would depend on a lot of things. If Galway had been the reason for knocking us out along the way I definitely would not. Noelle gives out to me for saying that but if they had beaten Tipp last year and we met in the semis and had beaten them, I doubt she would have done it either.

The celebrity Mayo for Sam bandwagon has started again. I spotted a picture on Knock Airport’s Facebook page of former soccer star and current Sky Sports pundit, Chris Kamara, wearing a t-shirt that said ‘Keep calm, Mayo for Sam’.

It seems to start earlier and earlier every year but what I would take from the slogan would be the first part, ‘keep calm’. It’s game number two.

I remember when I was writing before this same game last year, Galway were 14/1 to beat us. I said something along the lines of it would take a brave (and foolish man) to stick a tenner on that.

I was wrong and the bookies have learned too. Galway were 15/8 the last time I checked for this one.

We go again. Same as the Sligo game, it doesn’t matter how it’s done, we just need a win. Whether it’s sloppy and poor or exciting and convincing, it’s all about securing passage to the Connacht final, that’s our aim for the time being and players should be reminded of that. This gang came into our back yard and took our crown away from us, no one gets away with that.

Regardless of the outcome on Sunday, I might just turn the phone off while at work, just to be on the safe side. If we lose, I won’t be able to stand the abuse and if we win, I might send a message to Noelle that could have me sidelined for 12 weeks like Diarmuid Connolly!

32 thoughts on “Next step: blocking out the noisy neighbours

  1. If we win heed Chris Kamara.. keep cool not like Diarmaid Connolly and avoid the 12 week suspension. Mayo is great but getting carried away and depriving yourself of weeks of loving from your good woman is not wise. Hould yer whisht.

  2. I’m like a child on Christmas Eve so excited about tomorrow’s game. I too have had some great times in Galway was in college there was in Hospital there for a few months where I was cared for by Galway and Mayo Nurses whom were great craic. I have always felt very welcome in Galway and it feels like a second home but tomorrow I will be in sat in the stand with a steely determination to roar on the Green and Red and get one over on my Galway friends and to shut Sean Ban Breathanach up but sin sceal Eile.

  3. Lads, Johnny Hughes the former Galway Great has an interesting article about Galway/Mayo rivalry in today’s Examiner. A throw back to the man on man era, which unfortunately, is sadly lacking in today’s game. I remember Dad taking ‘the army’ as he called us, to matches in Tuam and Castlebar. Of course, he would always know someone on the turnstiles, and it was our job to climb over/under/between – in very cramped cconditions. Anyway, safe travelling tomorrow, and as Johnny put it – County first, then Province…

  4. What bookie was giving odds of 14/1? Odds with Paddy Power last year was Mayo 1/5 and Galway 9/2. The talk last year from the “noisy” neighbours was all of the players the wouldn’t make themselves available something like 50 if i recall right yet 12 months on just two of those players (O’Curraoin,Armstrong) are given starts now.

  5. Man of Aran i met Johnny in Spain last month & i think he is about the same weight as he was as a player—-an absolute gentleman.

  6. I’d be pretty sure no bookie was offering us at 14/1 last year ? 5/1 maybe.

  7. Most footballers are in fairness gentlemen Jr,we must for enjoyment have some banter,I bet if we met our present player who we love to hate he would be very pleasant ,Dermo I mean,if Galway by some fluke were to win tomorrow I would wish them all the best

  8. Whatever about our noisey neighbours. Will we, as supporters, be confident enough to raise our voices tomorrow? And will we be knowledgeable enough to do it in the right moments? The times when our lads really need it.

  9. I hope so Keep moving forward! Although my own is nearly gone with a sore throat. Hoping more noise is able to come out of my mouth by tomorrow.

  10. How terrible are Cork right now in their game v Tipp. One point in half of football where they had the strong wind.

  11. And until a conor Sweeney comes along the defensive game needs to be impervious

  12. All that we can ask for as supporters is to see the same heart, spirit and fight that we seen in Tralee against Kerry and against Donegal in Castlebar and against Tyrone in Omagh in the league this year. We’ll see what happens after that. Best of luck to all involved with Mayo GAA tomorrow.

  13. Just in the door from a full day out in Galway sussing out the opposition (really for a woodturning demonstration in Spiddal!). Everyone I spook to today were’t really feeling confident of a Galway win. No plamas either!

  14. Dont forget to help raise that massive 60 x 30 foot green and red flag tomorrow if you are behind that goal where it will be. During the parade i believe. That was the plan anyway last i heard.

  15. Connor Sweeney or no connor Sweeney, Tipperary still lost. Our forwards are vastly under rated because they are asked to do so much defensively. I can’t think of any team in the county that wouldn’t want diarmuid o Connor in their forward line. The biggest task facing Rochford is finding the balance.

  16. Of course they would want Diarmuid O Connor but they would also want Sweeney. The difference is that if rochfird had Sweeney he would not have him tracking as far back as Cillian O Connor.

  17. Sweeney would obviously improve every team in the country but he only got 2 points from play against us last August. In the same game, DO’C scored 2 and Andy scored 4 from play.

    Anyway, a pointless conversation. Looking forward to setting off tomorrow.

  18. Anyone know the 26 man panel for tomorrow? Is it up on the connacht gaa website?

  19. If we had a Conor Sweeney we could afford to leave him in the forwards cos we’d have a genuine target man able to win his own ball and take his scores consistently. But I agree, a pointless conversation, I was just dreaming a little about that extra inch we need to realise our shared dream of landing the big one some day.

  20. The big flag more than likely isn’t coming out tomorrow. A lot of threatening Galway opposition to it. Will make its debut soon though. Plan is still the same though for Mayo fans to congregate in traditional mayo side – eastern terrace behind the goal – rockbarton rd side. As far as I understand there will be smaller banners, flags to display but not the massive one that the Galway lads are afraid of.

  21. Please join in the Stand up for the Mayo men chant if you hear it. Not sure if it will get going.

  22. I just hate having to miss this game. I could not get a ticket for the stand.I had surgery recently and would not be able to stand up for the duration.I was at all the games last year. 3 games in McHale Park and 5 games in Croke Park.Thats life i guess.

  23. Tonight’s game shows the importance of playing the weather conditions. Playing with sweeper with wind at your back is a very unproductive tactic. The team with the wind has to do full court press on kickouts. Tomorrow expected strong breeze with showers. The pre planned tactics need to be abandoned if necessary. Tipp copied Cork’s main mistake from 1st half of not contesting Cork kickouts.
    Kickouts will be very crucial so I hope Kevin Mc will be instructed to drift out every time we have one as Galway have 3 big men in the air so breaking ball hugely important to win. Galway midfielders are no pushover.

  24. You should bring the Galway hurlers into the frame darragh, it’s very relevant! They’re not as a county infallible! hon Mayo, today and always!

  25. Just by chance did any of ye hear the RTE radio commentary of the Killkenny/Wexford clash?..If ye didn’t, ye certainly missed something special, ex Waterford player, John Mullane was doing the Co Commentary with Brian Carty. At the end of the most dramatic of match’s an exuberant Mullane referred to the Wexford supporter’s as ‘Wexicans’. What a marvellous turn of phrase, What a marvellous commentary it was as well from from Carty, but the star of this particular show was no doubt Mullane. It was up there with the legend’s, Michael O’Muircheartaig, Bill McClaren and Mayo’s most recently converted fan Kris Kamara, it really makes special when you have, someone so excited and isn’t afraid to give an opinion. Really it was that good!. Great to hear someone excited, passionate and articulate. Don’t know who RTE have lined up for this Galway /Mayo clash?.. Seriously tough, if I had to sit beside beside some of the boring drivel and sitting on the fence, by one or two of RTE gaa football co commentators, , I wouldn’t be travelling to the match at all,. Get some enthusiasm,. And come on Mayo & the ‘Wexicans’!

  26. Yes Leantimes …I had the very same thrill listening to that wonderful duo but not for the first time. I thought Mullane described the Wexfords as the Wexians but the Wexicans takes the biscuit entirely. In fact I remarked to my nearest and dearest that this performance had to be heard and let her in on the joy by removing the earplugs. It was indeed music to the ears with Carty painting a packed colourful vivid picture of the proceedings and gloriously garnished by John Mullanes timely interjections….sometimes the two broke rules and overlapped which only added to the quality of the experience. It was then near primordial and operatic!! Mullane gives the picture from inside the players heads while Carty depicts exactly all that’s to be seen on the pitch and off.
    Later on after the news we had the Great Marty giving a run down of the events down in Wexford and I had to say …..Jeeeez Marty will you come on ffs….were you at the match at all?
    So I’ve solved your problem of who to do the Salthill commentary …..wait for it… the Two Martys…Morrissey and Whelan.!!!!!
    C’mon Mayo… Up and at it.

  27. Ours subs list for today, from the programme, is as follows: Robbie Hennelly, Caolan Crowe, Donal Vaughan, David Drake, Shane Nally, Brendan Harrison, Stephen Coen, Aidan O’Shea, Danny Kirby, Evan Regan, Conor Loftus. No surprises in that list.

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