Not long to wait now, hombres – as I write it’s a bit over thirty-three hours until throw-in and I dunno about the rest of you but the butterflies are beginning to get into overdrive. Tomorrow will be the biggest match the county has played in for five years and regardless of the actions of the Anti-Hype Police, it looks as if there’s going to be a big Mayo presence in Croke Park on the day. It was announced yesterday that tickets are now being sold for the upper decks so it looks like the crowd should be well north of 40,000. If it is, we’ll all be surrounded by neighbours in the big house tomorrow.
And that’s as it should be: the last All-Ireland semi-final we were in was back in 2006 when Croker was packed to the rafters and where we got to enjoy one of our really great days at HQ (they showed that match in full on TG4 last night, just the job to get you in the mood for tomorrow). It’d be a shame to miss out on the fun if the Class of 2011 manages to pull off a similar result against the biggest beasts in the jungle.
So, what’s everyone saying about us?
The Irish Times has an interview by Keith Duggan with Donal Vaughan and a piece chronicling our five encounters with the Kingdom since 1996. They also have two match previews – one from Sean Moran and the other from former Kerry star John O’Keeffe. Both, as you’d expect, go for the Green and Gold but whereas Moran looks at the game in the round before drawing any conclusions, O’Keeffe – who says at the outset that he has made “a concerted effort to look at this game in an objective manner” – only has eyes for his own lads (a common Kerry complaint) in his analysis. I’d hate to see what he’d have written if he hadn’t made the effort to offer an unbiased view.
The Irish Independent also has plenty of stuff on the match. There’s a piece on our O’Sheas which, more properly, is an interview with Liam McHale, there’s a broad-brush article on why we’re more than a lost cause (by the way, why do our past defeats get thrown at us in a way that Dublin’s – who have suffered a fair few scutchings of their own in recent times – don’t?), there’s a piece by Billy Keane that has a few ladles too many of yerra for my liking and there’s a bit with Tommy Walsh, on the blower from Australia, warning us that that Donaghy lad is dangerous and needs minding. Thanks for the heads-up, Tommy. The best piece in the Indo, though, is a longish interview by Vincent Hogan with John Maughan who (unlike another ex-Mayo manager I could name) is fulsome in his praise of what James Horan and his young team have achieved this year.
By the way, John’s own piece about the match in the Mayo Advertiser is also well worth a look if you haven’t yet seen it.
In the Irish Examiner, Dara Ó Cinnéide (who, after Keith Duggan, is now surely the best GAA writer out there) goes through our strengths and weaknesses in the kind of detail that many Mayo people wouldn’t be able to and he reckons that, in beating Cork we “had the look of a team that finally came to appreciate the value of the ordinary arts of winning a game of football in the modern era”. Dara thinks Kerry will shade it tomorrow but that the game will be won or lost in the final 10 minutes. That’s where I’d part company with his analysis – I firmly believe that if it’s in the pot then we’ll do it – but tomorrow will tell all, I guess.
In the same paper, John Fogarty does the match preview and he goes for Kerry by three points.
Also in De Paper, Liam Horan has an article on the #nohypeplease phenomenon where this humble house gets a mention. I knew I shouldn’t have used the word “shite” in that post I did on this issue last weekend: now all of Cork will be reading about it. At least I didn’t say ‘fuck’. Or ‘bollix’.
There’s loads more coverage, I’m sure, but it’s now just under thirty-two hours ’till throw-in and I’ve a rather oversized Mayo flag to haul out from under the stairs and drape out the window and a load of other day-before-the-game stuff to sort out as well. And then there’s tonight’s session in Bowe’s to come later on … So, to play this one out, here’s a Championship Man classic from Liam Horan about a certain kind of supporter which should help you to get you in the mood that bit further for tomorrow.