A headline in the Mayo News caught my eye this week as I was flicking. It read ‘Row outside Westport chipper started over 1996 All-Ireland Final’. I laughed hysterically but every Mayo person knows that at least some point in their existence they have analysed that fight (Poor Liam McHale) or questioned the fact there was a replay at all. (Watch the hop!)
It just goes to show how seriously we take our football down here in Mayo and the seriousness starts all over again this Sunday. The Clash famously sang ‘London Calling’ but this is one clash that makes for worrying watching or, in Sunday’s case, listening.
I was nearly hugging the radio back in 2011 when, as Willie Joe put so perfectly, London were robbed rotten in Ruislip. We kicked nineteen wides and crawled over the winning line in extra-time. Panic stations were set up in the minds of the green and red faithful who had to ponder about the likelihood of Sam even though we had barely beaten London.
Thankfully, it was a false negative and we had a relatively good year. A loss would have been catastrophic. We now hold James Horan on a pedestal but my god if they had knocked us out, Horan would have been a laughing stock alongside his players and staff.
You would think this could be a game in which we rest our big players and let a few youngsters or inexperienced senior lads steer the wheel. However, it would seem too risky to do so. Then there is the flip side, when we did field our strongest team in 2013, London were crushed under the superiority. It is most definitely better to be safe than sorry in this case and today’s team announcement appears to reflects this.
A thumping, resounding win over London on Sunday would be fantastic in wiping the nervous sweat off our brows but at the same time what does it prove? We can hammer a Division Four side, good on us. It’s a weird game, it’s a banana skin but at the same time it couldn’t be any easier. The escapades (or more like great escape) of Roscommon in New York a few weeks ago further suggest that there’s only a few scores between winning and humiliation.
Unfortunately, despite having plenty of places to stay in London thanks to emigrated uncles and cousins, I cannot attend the match on Sunday. It is a shame because we do have a great connection with London given that, as aforementioned, most of us have relations here. The craic will be fantastic even if the standard of opposition or competitiveness is not.
However, don’t knock them. This was also Horan’s inaugural championship game five years ago. It was daylight robbery in Ruislip that day and hopefully we will steal the loot in London again on Sunday.