Remembering ’85

I don’t plan to be in McHale Park on Sunday – after all the Mayo-related mileage I’ve put up in recent times, I feel justified on this occasion about doing the Kerryman on the minors and waiting until they make it closer to HQ – but one reason I’m sad to be missing the Connacht final pageantry this year is because the Silver Jubilee team being commemorated is the Mayo side from 1985, who gave us some great memories.

I’ve already written at length about that year’s football so there’s little point in my rehashing that piece from last year about the county’s footballing exploits a quarter of a century ago.   It was, in many ways, a bittersweet year for us, with the humiliating loss to Limerick in the Open Draw tournament giving way to our confident conquest of Connacht and then that titanic tussle with the Dubs in the All-Ireland semi-final, with all the ballyhoo that surrounded it.  It was a year of raw emotion for those of us on the terraces and while we can still have regrets about not having progressed further than we did that year, there was much for us to be proud of too.

We owe a lot as a footballing county to the men of 1985 and to their manager Liam O’Neill – speaking to Daniel Carey in the Mayo News, Billy Fitzpatrick (who won his first and only Connacht medal that year at the ripe old age of 42) says that the Galwayman “changed the route of Mayo football” – who together hauled the county out of obscurity and re-established us as a force to be reckoned with at national level.  Our run to the 1989 final would surely not have happened without the groundwork that was put in back in 1985 and it’s likely that our near-miss in 1996 may not have happened either for the same reason.

I can’t believe that twenty-five long years have now passed since that afternoon in Hyde Park when we made a nonsense of the pre-match predictions that Roscommon would win easily and instead steamrolled the Sheepstealers into submission.  But it has and next Sunday that great team will take a deserved bow in front of those attending the Connacht final of 2010.  Thanks for the memories, lads, such as this particularly wonderful one.

6 thoughts on “Remembering ’85

  1. Like your bit on the men of 1985. It was indeed a watershed in Mayo football that year. A lot of good mixed in with the usual Mayo buffoonery. Liam O Neill was/is a great manager. Being a Galway man he feared nobody in Connacht especially Roscommon. He introduced the great Sean Lowry on to the Mayo team. It would appear he was over-ruled when he sought to keep Lowry on the team for the replay v Dublin. Finally Billy Fitz got his day in the sun. This was a man who debuted in 1965 under the initial W and won 3 caps. He then became Billy and won a further 24. (Page 134 Mayo- 60 years of Thrills and Spills) After 1965 he made his next debut in 1975.
    1985 was the year John Finn mysteriously got a fractured jaw in front of 65,000 people but nobody saw it! Padraig Brogan gave us a glimpse of what he might have been and we had a tidy forward line with the likes of the aforementioned with McStay , Durkin and Jimmy Burke.
    Being Mayo and with a team like that we should have pressed on. However we fell to the Rossies a year later. It would be 1989 before the promise would materialise and by then Maughan, Noone, Billy Fitz, Brogan, Lowry and Carney had moved on for one reason or another.

  2. 1985 was the first year of “hype” surrounding the GAA in Mayo. I think that local radio (the pirate version of MWR) had a lot to do with it then.

    The performance of the minors that year made it a great year. While since 1985 there have been more talented teams, that team never gave up and are a great example of what heart and resilience can do.

  3. if memory serves me right that year against the Dubs was the year when a large banner hung in Ballaghaderreen as you came in from the Charlestown road saying “Would the last person leaving Mayo please turn off the lights” – maybe it was 89 but I think it was 85. There was some hype and buzz alright !

  4. I remember that the summer of ’85 was one of the wettest ever, and that’s saying a lot, cocks of hay peeping out of floods of water on the journey up to Dublin in a box cortina! The fact that we had 2 outings (weekends on the piss!!) in the capital was a great antidote to the misery, and of course, we had a real recession back then as well. Kilgannon’s equalizer in the drawn game was sheer magic, the roaring and chanting from the large and frenzied mayo crowd was unbelievable, coming from 7 points down (sound familiar??). If we had another couple of minutes we would have surely won. Barney Rock was the prime suspect for Finn’s broken jaw and I remember a banner in the replay proclaiming that ‘Mayo would swim without Finn’ but alas we sank, but not without a fight and with great pride in the Green and Red, and we were rewarded a couple of weeks later with an All-Ireland title for our fearless minors. Happy, happy memories, time to make some new ones!!!

  5. i probably told this one before but i remember the minors coming to the school with the cup, underneath it a fella had used a hammer and nail to carve his name into the trophy , yes you guessed it “BARNEY ROCK” , jaysis it was wet weather , all i can remember is rain..

  6. ah the ’85 minors…..was lucky enough to be at the final….to be totally honest i didnt really appreciate the victory as much as i should have at the time. Think Greg Maher and Michael fitzmaurice were the only ones to make it with the seniors?? Kevin beirn might have been on that team too now that i think of it.
    As for the senior 85 drawn game….prob one of my top 3 memories. Will never forget the atmosphere..better occasion than 2006 in my opinion.

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