“When two tribes go to war, a point is all that you can score.”
Those lyrics – from “Two Tribes” by Frankie Goes To Hollywood – never particularly meant much to me during my 29 years of existence. Always a song I enjoyed but never one that I paid too much attention to the words of.
However, in the past two weeks since the All-Ireland final draw the words have become much more prevalent. Especially in the past couple of days as Dublin circled the wagons around ‘Saint’ Diarmuid Connolly and ourselves around ‘Devil Incarnate’ Lee Keegan.
The undoubtedly orchestrated campaign to smear the name and character of Lee Keegan while trying to influence the decision making of referee Maurice Deegan reached heightened levels of farce during the week when Ger Brennan of all people was rolled out to read off the script.
All this campaign managed to do was galvanise the Mayo support and, I’ve no doubt’ somewhat galvanise the Mayo footballers as well. Anyone who was of the opinion that the drawn game was left behind us or was giving out about Aidan O’Shea’s rush of blood to the head near the end moved on from that and rowed in behind our fearless wing-back.
The #ThingsLeeDid campaign was a fantastic example of how Mayo supporters are talking the battle to Dublin and their supporters. The ongoing piss taking of Dublin supporters complaining about not being handed all 15,000 Hill 16 tickets has been well done.
It helps that we have a team and management that we know will back up all the online talk and bravado with a display in Croke Park at 5pm tomorrow.
It is that team which has galvanised us more than anything. When we see Brendan Harrison or Keith Higgins come storming out of defence with the ball, when Colm Boyle makes another superman type block, when Barry Moran rises above the Cusack stand and plucks the ball from the sky and when Cillian O’Connor pulls out a score like the one at the very end last week you cannot help but be galvanised.
Nobody can say they have been surprised at the behaviour of certain sections of Dublin ‘supporters’ (and I am loathe to give them that title) or of the former players being trotted out in front of the media.
What they have gotten in response so far has only been a mere trickle of what they can expect comeSaturday afternoon. When those Mayo heroes walk out onto Croke Park, or burst like a train as they did last week, the roar will be heard in every corner of the city. The Dubs dressing room will shake so hopefully they will still be sitting in it, waiting and wondering.
The supporters were immense two weeks ago. James Horan said in 2013 that we went quiet and I would agree with him. Although that was more down to absolute fear of the unknown when drawing level near the end of an All-Ireland final.
This time around we were not found wanting. We are 100% behind this Mayo team and each and every one of the lads togged out and wearing that jersey and the vast number of top level guys on the sideline.
On that sideline we have a management team that no other county can match. For all their money Dublin cannot match the brains and experience of Stephen Rochford, Sean Carey, Tony McEntee, Donie Buckley, Maurice Horan, Eoin Rochford and the rest.
These guys are at the very top of their game and are in it for one thing and one thing only. To bring Sam to Mayo.
Talk of the curse reached a crescendo last Sunday week, and understandably so considering the two own goals. Personally I was never much of a believer but it wore me down over the past few years. For my two cents, I believe those own goals were the last kick of the curse. One each for the great Padraic Carney and Paddy Prendergast.
On Saturday evening two tribes will go to war. They will go to physical war on the pitch and in the stands we will play our part as we must roar and scream and shout and support our boys. Don’t worry about losing your voice, it will come back. Don’t worry about the fella telling you to sit down when cheering Mayo, he doesn’t understand. Don’t worry about looking the fool with your celebrating points and goals, there will be 40,000 of us all doing the same thing.
Mayo’s character has been questioned time after time after time over the past number of years. The likes of Brolly, O’Rourke, McConville and all the others have questioned Mayo, generally for off-field reasons. Our support has been questioned at times and currently our players are being accused of every dirty trick in the book by some of the guys who wrote the damn thing.
Saturday evening there is going to be a battle on one of the most famous pitches in the world at Croke Park. All the talk and bluster and online comment of the past two weeks is just both sides setting themselves up and picking their targets. The real battle between two great teams now awaits.