The day before

Photo: Tomas Groden via Twitter (@tomasgroden)

Saturday – the eve of this year’s All-Ireland final, where, as we head towards the end of September with the evenings now closing in rapidly, the leaves falling in ever greater numbers and nighttime temperatures already exhibiting the first hints of winter, we find ourselves still absorbed by championship football and our lads’ central position in this drama. A drama that – barring another draw – will reach its apotheosis at around 5pm tomorrow afternoon.

With the week-long build-up and the mounting volume of stuff that has already been written about tomorrow’s final, there’s little point in scrabbling round the usual haunts to see what the latest delivery looks like this morning. Apart from anything else, it’s a Saturday morning up here in the capital and – green and red flags and bunting on the house notwithstanding – ┬áthere’s underage training and matches and all that Saturday stuff to sort out shortly. As all the while, thoughts about tomorrow’s contest swirl around with increasing intensity in the background.

My house here is located little more than a mile away from Croke Park and is also but a short stroll down the road from the nerve-centre of the county’s operations at the Regency so, once all the Saturday stuff is sorted, I’m more or less in situ for what comes later this weekend. Many of you, though, still have your travelling to do and, however you do it, take it handy. There’s still over thirty hours to go until throw-in after all.

The one thought I wanted to capture today – which is really one for tomorrow but I fear I won’t be in any state to say anything coherent twenty-four hours from now – is one about the lads who will carry our hopes tomorrow. It goes without saying, though maybe we could say it more often, that we’re enormously proud of them, of what they’ve done and of the lift they’ve given the county in these interminably uncertain times. And that we should remain immensely proud of them regardless of how tomorrow goes too for the simple fact that they’re OUR lads: they grew up where we grew up, went to the same schools, strode down the same streets, tramped the same fields. When they go into battle on our behalf tomorrow, we have to be right there with them and be there too whatever the outcome is after seventy minutes of action.

The word I’m hearing about the squad is that they’re relaxed, in fine fettle and ready for it. Their focus is obviously narrowing remorselessly down to that channel of time that lies between 3.30pm and 5pm tomorrow and, I dunno about the rest of you, but it’s getting to be the same with me. I’m not really interested in entertaining any thoughts about what might possibly happen after the final whistle is blown tomorrow, still less am I bothered about everything – and, in particular, all those other finals – that has gone before. On both sides of this short, hyper-intense period of time, it’s all just incoherent noise. All that matters now is what happens in Game 5 itself.

Not long to wait now, just the eternity of another day.

23 thoughts on “The day before

  1. As the saw doctors say “to win just once”….finger crossed, obviously proud but saying that the players wont be happy to get to a final. Finals are for winning….

  2. I am very impressed by Mayo’s preparation and attention to detail in the build-up to this match, what with Kenny in the Vatican praying with the Pope. No doubt confessing his sins, especially all those things he said about them last year and begging for this one last favour. Yes, no stone unturned. Up Mayo

  3. heard that AOS pulled a hamstring in A vs B game, also Brolly has stooped to a new low publishing that article about Mayo’s cynical fouling obviously trying to influence the referee against us.

    Aside from that I am a happy man as I just secured my ticket for Sunday so all that’s left to say is BRING IT ON!

  4. Heading for stansted in an hour , thanks to James and the lads for all thepleasure and excitement they have brought us thus far , I know they will make us proud tomorrow .

    And thanks to Willie Joe for this site , this conduit and vessel , it has added so much to the last three years of following the team for me and it has been great in the last few weeks to see it get the credit it deserves,

    I’ll see ye all out on the hallowed turf as Plan B flashes up on the big screen !

  5. The only answer to Brolly is to win. Not worried about him. It simply has to be our day.
    Expect a surprise in the Donegal line up and Keegan won’t start.

  6. COMPOSURE,UTTER DETERMINATION AND BELIEF REQUIRED TOMORROW BY JAMES AND THE TEAM,REMEMBER WE ARE NOT THE FAVOURITES WHICH IS GREAT.

  7. Nice post. I feel the same . Nerves beginning to set in cant think of much else but the game. We need to believe but more importantly the lads need to believe in their own ability. Im confident we can put in a good performance against Donegal i hope donegal have peaked too soon and are riding a crest of a wave that is soon going to crash somewhere off the donegal coast . Performance is key to this game they have to play like like never before go toe to toe with all the donegal players. A county holds its breath Come on Mayo !!!!!

  8. Should be a skeit of green and red in Rody Bolands in rathmines and in flannery’s Camden street for starters, I’m interested to see if Donegal go for goals early with long balls into their two redwoods. I’m sure the Monsignor has a plan for that, but have to say that the first 10mins of 2006 is haunting my waking and sleeping subconscious. Still, I’m quietly confident, despite the bookies ratings. I’m also giving serious thought to putting 500 on the boys, to add to the festive fun if we win. Looking forward to a great day, no matter what happens. I’ve spent the few hours re-enacting my movements for the Down and Dublin games, if the players prepare half as much as me we’ll be sound. Mayo for Sam, 2012

  9. I’m not usually one for superstition, but living in Meath and have just answered the door to former mayo legend Jimmy Maughan who was in the area doing some charity work.
    He thinks we’ll win and I hope he’s right. I didn’t like to ask him if it came to him in a dream.

  10. Getting giddy about it all now. I’m in a fortunate position out here in The States, when I wake up tomorrow morning I’ll only have a couple hours of anxiety left unlike those of ye at home who have a full day, that’s if I actually fall asleep! Having said that there’s nothing else I’d rather be doing than getting on a train in Castlebar tomorrow morning and heading east. I can still remember the chill that went down my spine dis-embarking at Connolly for the 85 replay, the noise of the Mayo crowd getting off the trains was amazing! Semi final in 88, final in 89, great innocent youthful days!
    I’m a lot older and wiser now, men on the Mayo team used to be my hero’s, then they were fella’s I knew or played with myself, now the manager is my age and it’s the next generation’s turn to take the flag. I’m as excited about tomorrow as I’ve ever been for any Mayo match, possibly being so far away heightens the passion, possibly it’s the finals we’ve lost.
    I think though it’s mostly the sight of a Green and Red jersey and the memories of a hot summers days in McHale Park in 81 v Galway(it was so hot I fainted at mass beforehand!), or 85 saving the hay and listening to the Connacht Final on the radio from some distant land called Roscommon!
    Good luck to everyone making the trek to Dublin, enjoy yourselves tonight give the lads every ounce of support you have tomorrow. Good luck to James and the team, you’ve already done us proud, make legends of yourselves tomorrow.
    And Willie Joe, thanks for this fantastic resource, you’ve had 5 and a half years of penance with this blog, I was fortunate to find it almost at the very beginning. I believe a video of a sheepdog running across Breffni Park directed me here! Maybe tomorrow it’ll be you running across Croke Park!
    UP MAYO!!!

  11. Windy city u are a similar age to me,same townland,same memoriesfrom80s also watched 96/97 finals stateside but have been home for last 2 and also going tomorrow.like yourself i can’t wait and win loose or draw we are so proud of the lads who have donned the green&red of mayo I think tomorrow is their(our) day.maigheo abu

  12. We have a better keeper,man making defenders,midfielders and more scoring forwards from play. All the heartbreak of 89,96,97,04,06 will be forgotten this time tomorrow as i believe Mayo will be the All Ireland champions.

    Mayo 2-10
    Donegal 0-12

  13. As a Dub with some Mayo lineage, I really hope you do it tomorrow. I think Mayo are best equipped to counter Donegal’s counter attacking game. Showed against us that you have the players and the mentality to win vital games. Hope you’re smiling at 5 tomorrow.

    Enjoy the build up and the day. 61 years is too long

  14. To the panel…play hard, play smart, enjoy the grand stage and you will be champions of Ireland! To the supporters…have a grand day out!

    I wish I could join you in Dublin, but rest assured you will hear me shouting from across the Atlantic in support of the Green and Red!

  15. Best of luck to all involved with the Mayo team tomorrow including the supporters. Unfortunately, I will be checking in for a flight back to Dublin as the game starts. One of those choices you make in May or thereabouts when making holiday plans and the best deal on flights back is on the day of the All Ireland itself and you have to ask yourself if Mayo will be there this year and you just don’t have enough faith! Enjoy the day and let’s hope the boys show no quarter whilst still giving a dispaly of all that’s good about Mayo football. There is only one Mayo – Maigh Eo Abu.

  16. Ok, here we go, it’s match day at last. Safe journey everyone and maybe, just maybe, 12 hours from now…

  17. First post for me. Willie Joe, first of all, what a great site you’re running here, especially for those exiles among us. You more than deserve the many congratulations and thanks you’ve received. Living abroad, you want to know what the mood in the county is, get an inside track on developments in the Mayo team and hear the opinions of knowledgeable football people. You look for these things in the papers but can’t find them and that’s where your blog comes into its own.

    I’ll say one thing about today, those players among us all know what it’s like to play against our bitterest rivals, the adrenalin is pumping and you’re ready to take the short cut through the wall out onto the field. If Mayo can capture that never say die pride in the jersey and county, all the necessary components of a successful team, like committment and desire naturally follow. If management can get the players into that frame of mind. then the biggest day in living memory for all sons, daughters and relatives of the the County Mayo is upon us. Maigheo Abu.

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