The day before

Graphic: @Granuaile4Mayo

Christmas is approaching and it’s All-Ireland semi-final weekend. What a bonkers year this truly is.

Darkness has already fallen here in the capital and it’s cold out, with frost likely tonight under the clear sky. It’s December weather but it’s still Championship season.

Down the road from me here – little more than a twenty-minute tramp – the weekend’s first semi-final throws in under the lights at Croke Park in less than an hour’s time. Dublin are, of course, overwhelming favourites to see off Ulster champions Cavan in that one and whichever of them wins tonight will then have the luxury of sitting back and watching our semi against Tipperary at HQ tomorrow afternoon.

In previous years, the excitement levels ahead of an All-Ireland semi-final would be pretty high by now. The team would have been announced, there would have been acres of coverage about the game and we’d all be thinking ahead to being at Croke Park tomorrow with all the other thousands of supporters.

Sick with worry about how it might go. Almost giddy with anticipation as another big day for the Green and Red at HQ was in prospect.

We might even be heading to Bowe’s tonight, as we did so many times in advance of big games. Online becoming offline, virtual giving way to face-to-face. Good times, at a time when none of us knew what a coronavirus was and couldn’t contemplate how a global pandemic could lay waste to all we considered as normal.

Bowe’s is empty and shut tonight – it’s a so-called wet pub, after all – and while some of you may be venturing forth later on, I’d say the vast majority are doing what we all have been doing for months now, contemplating another night in.

There’s no reason to stir from the house tomorrow either but even though we can’t get to the action, the action can at least get to us. TVs will be roared at, the cat will wonder anew about all this Sunday afternoon cacophony as Mayo once again go into battle in this so very strange but still compelling Championship.

As a match day, tomorrow will be even stranger for me. I’ve missed loads of big games involving Mayo down the years – up to and including All-Ireland semi-finals – but always because circumstances have dictated that I’ve had to be elsewhere, usually abroad, when these matches have been on. But tomorrow the game is taking place less than two miles down the road from where I’ll be watching it, in an eerily empty Croke Park.

But, of course, the experience will be a weird one for the lot of us. And it isn’t like we haven’t had to get used to plenty of out of the ordinary stuff this year as it is. To be honest, the rhythm of a match day at home isn’t a bad one – the real bonus for all of us is that we’re still in it.

Which means that, although we can’t be there to roar them on, tomorrow is still another big day for Mayo supporters. Those of us domiciled in Ireland get a chance to see what a big match day is like for those who always follow the team from afar. Tomorrow, as has been the case since the inter-county action resumed in October, we’re all in the one boat.

Right, need to get settled ahead of the weekend’s first semi-final. Back with some final pre-match thoughts tomorrow.

14 thoughts on “The day before

  1. 1. David Clarke – Ballina Stephenites
    2. Oisín Mullin – Kilmaine
    3. Chris Barrett – Clontarf
    4. Lee Keegan – Westport
    5. Patrick Durcan – Castlebar Mitchels
    6. Stephen Coen – Hollymount/Carramore
    7. Eoghan McLaughlin – Westport
    8. Conor Loftus – Crossmolina Deel Rovers
    9. Matthew Ruane – Breaffy
    10. Kevin McLoughlin – Knockmore
    11. Ryan O’Donoghue – Belmullet
    12. Diarmuid O’Connor – Ballintubber
    13. Tommy Conroy – The Neale
    14. Aidan O’Shea – Breaffy
    15. Cillian O’Connor -Ballintubber

    Cant fault the proposed starting line up , which is more than can be said for the GAA ‘s decision revealed on RTE’s Late Late Show yesterday

    “GAA President reveals trophies will stay in Dublin after All-Ireland finals
    GAA President John Horan has confirmed that the Sam Maguire and Liam MacCarthy Cups will remain in Croke Park after the All-Ireland finals.

    Horan revealed the news on RTE’s Late Late Show – explaining that there will be no official homecomings this year due to the pandemic.

  2. Dublin in second gear. Not letting Cavan within 40 yards of goal by using sweeper.
    Dublin will win by whatever margin they like. Too physical and slick. Cavan now resorting to the blanket. Another poor turnover by Cavan. Point for Dub.

    Was in Ballindine today looking to purchase a Mayo flag to bring home to Galway.
    No flags for sale in either fillling station! Shocking! Are we in a semi or aren’t we.
    Talk about keeping the hype down but that is ridiculous.

  3. Watching this tonight, not that I’m a horan fan, but I think his strategy is right. No point in having big men around midfield against Dublin, more fast and furious. If only we had a keeper like the Cavan keeper for kickouts.

  4. @No doubt. Thanks for info. Had to borrow one from a fellow Mayo man exiled here in Galway. Cavan way off the mark and will be for years to come on that showing. O’Rourke is right Dublin will have to be divided by 4 probably otherwise it will only get more unfair. GAA have to do something urgently. Population is the real issue more so than funding. Who the hell is Robbie McDaid? Another player from nowhere to man of the match!

  5. It’s a bloody daunting prospect. They are a machine that really does not look like it can be stopped. For us it’s a problem for another day, but it’s difficult to stay optimistic.

    All we can do is keep putting ourselves in line for a shot, even if it’s a long-shot.

  6. Cavan got an asses bating with Dublin appearing to be in 3rd gear. Whoever wins tomorrow faces a distinct possibility of a horrible hammering in the final . I dont agree with splitting Dublin as after a few years the finals will be Dublin North vs Dublin South etc. Dublin will go to town for goals in the final you could see it tonight Cavan looked poor and wide open. The football is so boring compared to hurling perhaps the utter dominance of Dublin will bring more counties to focus on hurling as the GAA have created a genie that cant be put back into the bottle.

  7. Whether watching on GAAGO here on Florida or you WJ 2 miles away -we all know we can count on each other being the 16th man for our Mayo team by flooding the #FanWall and #BestSeatInTheHouse so our team can see Mayo supporters if they spare a quick glance at the big screen. From years of experience: MidWest radio is the fastest, then MayoGAA twitter then TV (at least here in the states). Spent many a Mayo final moments listening to MidWest for those critical seconds as the TV 30 seconds behind in time…and for all us Mayo supporters, we certainly know the last 30 seconds in Croke Park can be a lifetime! Get the pizza and popcorn ready…the Mayo Roar TV style will resonate around the World! Maigh Eo Abú!

  8. good luck tomorrow. .right now .we can only control what we do tomorrow lets take care of that and then move on….we cant control what happens down the road…if everyone does their job as best they can. .concentrate on each and every play then thats asmuch as we can ask of these heros and Im sure its enough to bring us home….remember paudi osheas words'”a grain of salt””” is all will separate us “if we all pull together stick together we can win a hundred years ago a few brave men defeated the mighty british empire and delivered unto us freedom after centuries of slavery so if there is believe and courage ….we can achieve our goals ….mayo 4 ever

  9. and its time for a new picture sad to say good bye to some great soldiers but time to recognize those new to the fray.

  10. sorry spelling went bad … too much covid whiskey …but we have to do this …we must believe…and thank you willie joe…from all abroad

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