Two days to go

Graphic: @MayoGAA

We’re now less than 48 hours out from this year’s All-Ireland final. Indeed, in 48 hours from now it’ll already be all over.

The pre-match butterflies really started to kick in for me today. Every time my mind wandered to the game – which was frequently during the day and has been constantly since then – my stomach started to do somersaults. I think a beer before bedtime might be in order tonight.

It’s gas, isn’t it? It’s not as if this is a new experience for any of us and a good few of us – myself included – have been to every final, including the replays (bar last year’s Covid one), that we’ve contested since 1989. No matter, each one is a huge occasion in its own right and each successive one is as nerve-shattering as the one that went before it.

So into that maelstrom we head again on Saturday. This time with high hopes of success, albeit hopes well anchored to a considerable degree of caution, in light of our experience in previous years. But with plenty of hope all the same.

This close to the game I start to find that all the coverage surrounding it starts to meld into an increasingly incoherent babble. Or maybe that’s just me, trying to articulate something resembling a sensibly formed sentence. Yes, I think it’s time to say hello once again to this lad.

Right, let’s cast a rapid glance over some of the coverage that’s out there today about the game.

Not much in the Irish Times today but this piece by Una McCaffrey, written from a Tyrone perspective, is worth a look.

In the Irish Examiner, Christy O’Connor has a good piece on why James Horan’s youthful team is built for Croke Park – that’s here. Eoghan Cormican has a piece featuring Conor Mortimer who gives his view on how best to get Aidan O’Shea into the thick of the action on Saturday – here.

The same paper also has an article by Maurice Brosnan on the phenomenon of Mayo GAA podcasts, our own one included – that’s here.

Over at the Irish Independent, Ciaran Whelan gives his assessment of how he thinks the match will go and he plumps for us.

Finally, John O’Mahony, speaking with James McMahon on the RTÉ website, gives his in-depth view on the game and, not surprisingly, he goes for us too. That one’s here.

Oh man, my head hurts. And there’s another day’s build-up to come. Up Mayo.

80 thoughts on “Two days to go

  1. Winning Sam.

    An old wooden cross now marks the spot, high up in critters Canyon, where it’s said the men from the Wild Wild West fought and grabbed the entire Gold haul, three wagons, laden with more Gold, than ever sat at any one time in all of Texas Banks and Vaults combined.

    Word had reached the dusty Horan ranch of the Gold shipment. A lifetime of driving steer across the state for little reward got him to thinking. Thinking hard and big. He looked to the hills and the setting sun glittered like Gold as it started to dip behind the rust red rocky outcrops.

    Horan was never one to leave anything to chance. He had up on thirty, thirsty, non law abiding sidekicks gathered together at his not too expansive holding. Mean, not too polite kinda folk. These were the men he needed. Some of them would as soon as shoot a man as shoot a racoon. Shit. Some of them wouldn’t even shoot a racoon.

    A fight broke out in the barn where some of the men had bedded down on the first night. One of the men had accused a long haired, meaner looking than most, a cowboy named o’hora, of chewing his saddle. Its true. Half the saddle looked to have been eaten away.

    Horan knew it was asking for trouble to keep the men together for too long and so they decided to head out, head out and ride for critters canyon.

    Critters canyon was sloped and rocky but offered the perfect vantage point and the perfect spot to relieve the wagons and the guarding Texas Rangers of their loot.

    The Wagons wouldn’t come through for another four to five days but Horan wouldn’t let anything to chance. As they picked their way through the rocks looking for the best positions to launch their ambush from, a shot rang out from the other side of the Canyon. Horans men all dived for cover.

    Word of the Gold had made its way up North and they had settled on taking it back up North with them.

    It was hard tell how many men were on the other side of the Canyon. The Rock cover was too good. The two sides exchanged occasional shots until nightfall, neither sustaining any injuries. Horan told his men to rest and picked the long haired one to keep watch through the night. Told him to make sure there was no night time crossing from the other side.

    Three days they fired over and back at each other and for three nights the long haired one kept watch.
    Horan knew the Gold was due through in the next day or two. He knew both sides would have to move from their cover to seize the Gold and he knew the bloodshed that would follow when both sides emerged from behind the cover.

    On the fourth night with all the men rolled in their blankets getting some shut eye, Horan joined the long haired one where he kept watch. “ Do you think you can get across that canyon, and send that son of a bitch they have keeping watch, to sleep “.
    The long haired one just grinned at Horan. He handed Horan his rifle and his holster and disappeared into the darkness.
    Horan woke his men as first light approached. There had been no word from the long haired one. He had surely met his maker during the night. Horan felt bad for the long haired one and he was damn angry. He didn’t want to lower the morale of his men, that is if they ever had any to begin with. As on previous days they all took their positions.

    They could still just about see the watchman, still watching from the other side. A hand flashed up from behind, covering the mouth and nose of the watchman as a blade glinted as it moved like lightening across the watchman’s neck. The watchman dropped. Dead.
    The long haired one signaled the deed was done.

    Horan moved his men swiftly and quietly across the canyon.
    Eight of the enemy had already died by the long haired ones blade by the time Horan and his hombres arrived. They finished the job and set in place again to wait for the Gold.

    They say Horan and his men rode away from critters canyon with the biggest Gold Haul ever recorded.
    Not a man was lost, although the saddles from time to time continued to be badly chewed.

    An old wooden cross now marks the spot, high up in critters Canyon, where it’s said the men from the Wild Wild West fought and grabbed the entire Gold haul, three wagons, laden with more Gold than ever sat at any one time in all of Texas Banks and Vaults combined.

  2. I need the exact wording of “ the curse “
    I just wonder if it specifically said “ you won’t take Sam Maguire home”? Because whoever wins tomorrow won’t get to take the cup home. But they still win. All help greatly appreciated ?

  3. Revellino, you are mad…but brilliant.

    PS: did you ever get the brush handle and the few bob from Mayo CoCo?.

  4. Revellino, the hombres ride again, and this time they are mean, raw and a lot on the wild side. I shudder.
    Great bedtime reading.

  5. @Revellino,.. There is Iron in your words, the Long haired one, he doesn’t just chew saddle’s and chewing tobbaco, he chews Iorn… We have only one plan!

  6. Tomorrow’s Saturday. Nerves well and truly kicked in with me now.

    I’m surprised the blog isn’t a bit busier. There’s a definite sense of quiet anticipation here in Mayo, but certainly no mad hype. I think people aren’t quite sure what to expect tomorrow. We’ve all been here before but this definitely feels a little different.

  7. A lot of talk about how the mayo attack will break down the Tyrone defence but tell me? How will the Tyrone attack break down the mayo defence? They didn’t have a forward score from play until the 60th minute. 4or5 out of their 6 defenders scored in the first half without a Kerry man with 10 yards of them. Don’t think our forwards will be as lazy.

  8. It’s Friday and I just know I’m not going to get thing done today! And if a team is named well that will be me gone altogether

  9. Driving to work today through ros country. Lots of Mayo flags out on the route to Dublin on Saturday. They’re not a bad bunch really.

  10. Dave/Niall – you’re both posting commentary here about a named individual, which I don’t think is fair and which I’d prefer not to see aired here so I’ve removed all references to him in the relevant comments. I think we need to keep the focus on the match and relevant details around it.

  11. I think a lot of people are still preoccupied with getting tickets @Liberal role in the tie, hoping against hope, that something will come through at the last minute. That’s certainly my situation and to be honest I’ve really struggled to think about the game in any other context this week – which is admittedly, pretty childish, moping round the place like an 10 year old who asked for a twin deck ghetto blaster for christmas, only to be given one of those bush transistors! Anyway, until all avenues to a ticket are definitively spent, I’ll continue to let the hope kill me, and make peace with it when it does, probably some time after breakfast tomorrow morning.

    In a weird way, I’m hoping the preoccupation around tickets, which thankfully isn’t something I’ve been burdened with in the build up to previous finals, is a sign that the outcome to this one, will also be different. I’ve always felt that when we do get over the line, we’d end up doing it in a bit of style, and that’s my hope for tomorrow. I think Tommy C is primed to catch fire and I also suspect we’re going to see a big performance from Aido, amongst others. Ticket or no ticket, I think we’re ready, it feels like everything is in the right place for us, to go and take what’s ours.

    Safe travelling folks, go n-éiridh an t-adh libh, Maigh Eo Abú!

  12. Good points there by “Exiled in Dublin”. Also I think the All quiet on the Western front is down to a real sense that this year’s team is well primed to finally take the title. The key ingredient is mental strength which the team have shown in spades in the wins over Galway and Dublin. While both teams fitness and conditioning are on a parallel we have a bit more in the tank! Stating the obvious but the supporters need to get behind and stay behind the team for the 70+ and bring a sea of noise and colour!
    Can’t wait!

  13. Ya you’re right WJ. In hindsight that stuff should be left on the waste land of social media platforms where it belongs. No harm meant.

  14. I really feel that those lucky enough to be in Croker tomorrow have a crucial role to play. This in my mind is going to be a dour affair, particularly in the first half with mistakes and difficult ball for those on the pitch. We have to fully support our team even when mistakes are made. Its going to be different to other finals in that there will not be a capacity crowd so there wont be the same vocal intensity (one imagines). We have to back our men every minute of the match, like we do for our own kids at underage level. When the going gets tough (and it surely will) there is no better way to show our faith and act our part, than to roar our encourage to each and every one of our warriors on the field and the bench. And hopefully it will come right for us.

  15. Revellino that was brilliant, I am still laughing, yes Horan & his gang are going to take Silver & Gold with all guns blazing away out West tomorrow night. Can’t wait, Up Mayo.

  16. There’s a phenomenon in horse racing called the bounce where a horse coming back from an injury or a long layoff can perform at or near peak in their first race but then perform well below par on the next start. I have had a nagging thought that Covid must have left some mark on Tyrone but while it didn’t show that last day, it might just drop their levels a few percentage points tomorrow.
    While we obviously can’t think like that and have to expect that we’ll be in a 70 minute battle to the end, I will be looking closely at the respective energy levels as the game progresses.

  17. Admittedly, I’m a mess this morning, a barely functioning shambles.
    It has been gently reflected to me that I need to chill the f@*k out and get my shit together.
    A bit short betimes, short term memory loss, lacking focus on simple tasks, 1000 yard stare, distracted all the time and a general air of not being present.
    Ah, that’ll be “Day before Mayo in All-Ireland Syndrome”.
    MIAIS, quite the dose.
    It’ll be in the DSM next edition.
    No known cure.

  18. Thanks again everyone.
    I never got the handle for that brush either.

    I have never enjoyed the build up to a final as much.
    Not in an arrogant or cocky way, but I do believe that we are going to be the AI champions tomorrow evening.

    Tyrone will be a mighty challenge and deserve to be in the final. The dress rehearsals are over.
    Tomorrow is the real deal and I just feel that this is our time to shine.

    I’m super excited now and the nerves are behaving well. They can have their day out tomorrow.

    We have a role in believing in our team.
    It’s only right that the team and players take to the pitch carried on by a wave of positivity.

    The preparation is all done. Every last detail has been ironed out. I don’t think we could be any better prepared and boy, what a team and panel we have.

    We deserve to believe.

  19. Tks Revillino for great read and laugh, need that with the butterflies flying.
    My mind is always taken back to a Sunday game final programme think 2017, and all 6 pundits still on the seats there were asked a final question By Des, WILL MAYO EVER WIN AN ALLIRELAND, all 6 said a defining NO NO NO……
    Oh to hear The West Awake being sung too tomorrow evening,
    And Aiden to say They said we couldnt, we wouldnt, but WE DID IT.

  20. Quick Q on ticket scanning.

    Downloaded ticket to apple wallet.
    I assume I can scan ticket from there off the phone at the gate.

    Also will probably bring a backup printout in case that scan doesn’t read.

    Is the above the correct approach do people think?
    Just trying to head off any potential screw ups tomorrow eve.

    was simpler in the past with just the official ticket

  21. You can’t do anything else really if you have the q code and the printed ticket. Seems you’re well covered with both.

  22. I was never this nervous. Not even before my wedding day but i would never admit that to the wife although i doubt she reads this blog!

    For all the danger that Tyrone possess I am hoping that we can run them into the ground and finally get over the line. I have a feeling Matty Ruane may have a big influence for us and Darren Coen and James Carr off the bench could have a big say.

    It goes without saying that is vital that we mind the house. I think Tyrone might just send a few high balls in early on to test our nerve. Peter Canavan pointed out that Donegal used this tactic against us in 2012 so we need to be wide awake.
    In 4 of our last 8 finals the oppositions first score has been a goal. We can’t afford to be playing catch up again.

  23. Happened to drive virtually the length and breadth of the county yesterday – what a display of colour all over the place, it surely is uplifting what this team does year after year. Love watching my own flag out at the road blowing goodo in the breeze – Hon Mayo

  24. Following on from the Irish Examiner article referenced by WJ above

    Comparison of 2017 final team to the 2021 semi-final team

    Ret: retired, S: changed to sub, A: still active, I: injured.

    David Clarke(Ret)

    Brendan Harrison(S) Donal Vaughan(Ret), Keith Higgins(Ret)

     Lee Keegan (A) , Chris Barrett(Ret), Colm Boyle (S)

     Seamus O’Shea (Ret), Tom Parsons (Ret)

    Kevin McLoughlin (A), Aidan O’Shea(A), Paddy Durcan(A)

    Jason Doherty(I)  Cillian O’Connor(I) , Andy Moran(Ret)


    1  The four members of the 2017 team still on the current starting team and their starting positions in 2017 are shown above include Lee and the entire 2017 half forward line (Kevin, Aiden, Paddy D (late sub for Diarmuid).

    Our half forward line is arguably unchanged from 2017.

    2. Approximately half of the team, seven to be precise have retired.

    3. Two are out injured.

    4. Two from 2017 (Colm B, Brendan H) have moved from starters to subs

    The 2021 team likely to start final comprises

    The four starters from 2017

     2017  Used  subs  ConorL  Diarmuid and Stephen C as well as unused subs Robbie H and Matthew R, totalling 5 or so.

    Four new faces  (Oisin, McHale, ROD, Tommy C) .

     Plunkett and POH who had played for Mayo seniors in some role by 2017? (from memory?)

    I am open to be corrected but in rough terms today’s team is 1/3 of starting 2017 team, 1/3 are subs from 2017 and 1/3 are completely new.

    2021 subs bench also transformed from 2017.

  25. Competition on today fm at the minute for 2 tickets – the answer to the 1st question is “3”, two more questions before 1 pm

  26. Im checking out from online media now for the weekend, at this stage im overloaded with media and have spent 4 weeks of overthinking things. I have gone through the full range of certainties now and keep persuading myself of the opposite outcome, i have gone from ‘We are gonna win it all’ -> ‘Tyrone will beat us’ ->It will be a draw – > We are goint to actually hammer tyrone -> Tyrone will hammer us….I am now back at full circle and going with my first instinct, that is that Mayo will win in a hard fought battle.

    Any dublin based Mayo gaels going for pints tonight in the city? i will need a few scoops to take the edge off, what pub are the Mayo ones headed?

    I will be checking out of here now until after the match so will leave my prediction here, hopefully i wont get back to check comments until about wednesday after celebrations have died down

    Mayo 1-15
    Tyrone 0-14

    Both teams tied at 13 points each at 2nd water break, final quarter surge from Mayo to win it.
    Man of the match: Patrick Durcan

    See yis on the other side

  27. I expect the tackling of the Tyrone backs tomorrow evening will be savage and the Mayo forwards may struggle to get shots off as did Kerry. They just cant carry it into tackle like the Kerry lads but then its going to be difficult to get points I predict a real low scoring game with the final score something like 2-10 to 0-14.
    I still cant pick a winner as I think goals will win the game but cant decide who is more likely to get them. Tommy Conroy is your wild card but he didnt perform in the last final he played in but that often happens to a young player and he appears to have improved since. I feel its a great pity that Cillian O Connor is not playing as there will be a good few distance frees on offer from Tyrone. I just wonder will Tyrone tire in the last 5-10 minutes but Dooher will have to manage his subs to ensure that wont happen I don’t expect Mayo to tire but Horan will of course need to be very alert. Perhaps I’m wrong and both teams will hit point after point in a high scoring exciting game but I think this will be a game of tension, missed chances and snatched goals. Mayo deserve to be on the right end of that sort of game in a final and all Horan has done to date has been on the money. As always it will come down to performances on the day (including the ref), an unexpected lad that grabs the bull by the horns and a slice of luck. Safe journey to all travelling from the West for what is probably Mayo’s best chance in many years to end the famine and the “curse”.

  28. Is there anything to be said for a 2013 Donegal quarter final style demolition job? I’d take any sort of victory but the coward in my says I can’t handle another game on a knife edge going into the last few minutes.

    The only thing is I firmly believe the players have the mentality to handle that sort of pressure and that could be a big factor.

    Liam McHale said on Newstalk yesterday that he believes we’ll win the game as long as we’re not down by anymore than two points at half-time. You don’t want to concede any sort of big lead to this Tyrone team, as they’re well able to soak up the pressue and get scores with a turnover. I’d love to see us go for it from the off and set the tempo. The more open the game is for us the better.

    Mayo by six points. Darren Coen to land a few points when he comes on too.

    As I said I’m hoping the last 10/15 minutes is comfortable for us but then again, have we ever really done it the easy way! Hopefully tomorrow we will.

  29. I have ‘day before the final syndrome’ too – distracted, short term memory affected etc.
    I loved the podcast last night with Mike, Billy Joe and Kevin McStay. It was perfect!
    I wanted to pass on a nugget I picked out of the Irish Times final preview with Malachy Clerkin, Darragh O Se, Keith Duggan and Mark Ronaldson (Western People).
    Darragh O Se, asked about his experience in finals, remembered something – he found some players, ‘the great players’, step up a few steps, go to heights, in those finals. They grow and perform several notches above. I could picture that and it felt true to me.
    In thinking about deadlocks and sticky defences and all that, it felt good to know we have some solid warriors, some hombres (as Revellino might call them) that could show just who they are on that stage. I’m not saying that to expect or to put pressure on anyone, but just to say it could happen.
    Another thing – Keith Duggan has called the Mayo team ruthless and mean (in articles written after defeat of Donegal in 2019 and on seeing them up close and personal at Sligo game this year). If Keith Duggan observes this, that is good enough for me.

  30. The weather will be reasonable good, and the first quarter will be cagy I reckon, that’s as much as I could possibly forecast.. Haven’t heard a squeak about the starting 15 or the 26…Hopefully James and Ciaran are picking from a fully fit and ready squad as humanly possible..I could possibly guess at 12 of the starter’s with some confidence, no more, and the 26 our finisher’s are just as important, so many variables..A hundred different senearios, and more have been keeping me awake for the whole of the last week as to the way things could pan out, as if my worries could change anything.. One seneario I hadn’t believed would happen was that I would be going, and I am going.. Hope I’m not as nervous as I feel right at this moment.. Talking to a Tyrone man this morning who knows his football, and he can’t predict what’s going to happen either.. So it’s Mayo’s to win, and the same for Tyrone! Safe traveling to all, hope ye all get tickets..

  31. Lads and lassies – I have 2 Lower Davin that are together that I’m looking to swap for any 2 stand tickets. If anyone is interested let me know.

  32. I’m old enough to have experienced every final since 1989 but I never remember being so nervous before a final. I haven’t been able to sleep properly all week and can’t even eat properly since yesterday.

    I really think this is a massive chance for us. We have to be ready to go from minute 1 and don’t let up until the end. I think AOS will have a big game – he’ll be stung by the last day and keen to prove a point. I hope Oisín and Eoghan make it – Oisín will be key for us.

  33. How are the nerves holding up in mayo! I was meant to be going tomorrow as I help out in Parnell pk I was getting a ticket but I’m a postie and there is a fanatic mayo fan on my route who was getting desperate for just one ticket and he is a generous tipper at Christmas time so I did the decent and told him he was going tomorrow! Very happy mayo fan!!

  34. Watched the 96 drawn final last night ( yeah I know I know).

    43 minutes into the game Liam Mchale effort comes back off the post. The rebound falls to James Horan. His effort comes back off the other post. That rebound falls to a Meath man and the danger is cleared.

    I had forgotten that bit of bad luck. Fucking hell we left that one after us alright but fucking hell it was hard to win it with the luck we had over the 2 games.

    Interestingly Martin Carney was with Michael Lyster in the Rte Sunday game box. He was a lot calmer back then!!!

  35. Nice one Parnell16 fair play to ya. To answer your first question, my nerves are completely shot.

  36. Bejabers Chesneychet, is 2-10 to 0-14 a low-scoring final these days? I remember us losing 0-13 to 1-7 against Kerry in 1997 and drawing the first day against Meath 1-9 to 0-12 back in 1996.

    Maybe we do have something to thank the Dubs for, after all: higher scoring finals!

  37. Does anyone know if you can send a screenshot of your ticket to somebody? Will that scan to allow entry? I assume it should.

  38. Gaa fixture website says extra time if necessary. Am desperate for a ticket if anyone knows of one anywhere in the ground?

  39. I’ve been a regular reader of this wonderful blog for many years but haven’t posted before. Perhaps a sign of how nervous I am this year! I’ve been thinking about noise levels in Croker tomorrow. Mayo fans always let the team know we’re there, but Tyrone fans are a raucous bunch who bring their own serious noise levels. I’m loving the Saw Doctors “Green and Red” more and more each year. It has become the anthem to our love of Team and County. Wouldn’t it be great if every Mayo fan in Croker tomorrow belted out the first verse at key “energy” points in the game – 15 mins, 30 mins, 50 mins, 65 mins – to let our fabulous team know we’re with them all the way – to let the Tyrone team know we will not surrender!

  40. Just wondering if we need to print the e-ticket? I didn’t need to for either game before this but I bought those on ticketmaster whereas this was a link sent to me.

  41. Joe I think if you put into your Google pay wallet or the equivalent you should be fine. Might be no harm print anyway just in case

  42. I don’t know how others have been but I have never experienced a rollercoaster of emotions before a game like this. Not hype just emotion. Will we, wont we, could we finally? I was still awake last night at 2.30 am and had to be up for work at 6 am.
    I haven’t touched a drop since January 2020 but will have to have a glass or two tonight to put me right.

    Nervous wreck,

  43. Instead having a nice few on the night before the all Ireland final I’m doing a bit at Parnell pk we have 2 senior football championship matches this evening anyway I’m fully confident of a mayo win by 3 points safe trip to Dublin hopefully ye be celebrating long and hard!

  44. im worried about myself I am fully convinced we’ll win, im usually a negative nelly thinking we’ll lose, ive never felt this confident that mayo will somehow win it. Maybe its the comeback against Dublin, hope im right or ill be totally deflated Saturday evening!

  45. 1.Rob Hennelly -Breaffy
    2.Padraig O’Hora – Ballina Stephenites
    3.Lee Keegan – Westport
    4.Michael Plunkett – Ballintubber
    5.Paddy Durcan – Castlebar Mitchels
    6.Stephen Coen – Hollymount/Carramore
    7.Enda Hession – Garrymore
    8.Matthew Ruane – Breaffy
    9.Conor Loftus – Crossmolina
    10.Diarmuid O’Connor – Ballintubber
    11.Aidan O Shea – Breaffy
    12.Bryan Walsh – Ballintubber
    13.Kevin McLoughlin – Knockmore
    14.Tommy Conroy – The Neale
    15.Ryan O’Donoghue – Beal an Mhuirthead

    Surely Mullin comes in before throw in.

  46. From Tyrone POV don’t understand this “don’t give Tyrone a lead” talk. We went 5 points up in EXTRA TIME & let Kerry back level. That’s a concern especially with how Mayo clawed back against the Dubs. Mattie Donnelly is trying to find form but he’s got huge character and believe him and Aidan could have an unexpected battle Royale. Tyrone need to keep mcshane on bench and will likely introduce him around 40 minutes. Gonna be a long day tomorrow folks , prepare for all inclement weather 🙂

  47. Hopefully Oisin is able to play some part tomorrow. Maybe Horan is holding him back and introduce him when McShane is brought on for Tyrone?
    I like the make up of the forward line, will keep Tyrone guessing

  48. The west is best – you should know not to be posting information here about players that isn’t available publicly. Really, I shouldn’t have be dealing with this kind of carry-on the day before the final.

  49. The West is Best – I now see you’ve compounded matters by giving the full medical bulletin. I’m sorry but I’ve no choice but to put you in moderation for that. If you don’t know the rules for posting comments here then you bloody well should do.

  50. Who would get dropped for Oisin? Straight swap for Hession but he wouldnt deserve that after his performance against Dublin. Might be Plunkett, but then Hession moves to Corner back i’d say

  51. Fair play to you Parnell16 – that was very decent of you. I’m sure that Mayo man on your round is more than delighted!.

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