Will this one be different?

This is the piece I did for the Mayo News All-Ireland final supplement, which was published yesterday.


It’s a well-known saying, one that’s often quoted in relation to financial investments, that the four most dangerous words in the English language are “this time it’s different”.  As we look forward to the county’s seventh appearance in an All-Ireland final since our last win way back in 1951, it’s natural to look for ways to convince ourselves that this time things are truly different. But are they?

At one obvious level, of course they are: no two games – even involving the same set of opponents – will ever be the same. A trite observation, perhaps, but it is surely still one that contains a germ of truth.

An obvious retort to that line of thinking could, of course, be that there was nothing too different about the outcome of the last six finals we were in. That’s clearly true but it’s also the case that all of those finals reside in the past and their outcome can’t be changed whereas the 2013 one still lies in the future and is still there to be fought for.

So how is it different this time? One area where I think this championship campaign departs from those other ones is in the uncompromising approach of the players and the manner in which they have imposed themselves so resolutely on every match they’ve played to date over the summer.

The way we were able to dismantle before half-time the challenges posed by Galway, Roscommon, London and Donegal was something new to Mayo supporters.  In previous years, we’ve seen some high-watermark performances but the swathe we’ve cut through this year’s championship has been of a completely different order. Although Tyrone brought the sequence of landslide wins for us to an end in the semis, this was still a match we won well and one we had comfortably in the bag with more than ten minutes left to play.

In all my time following Mayo (which now numbers more than thirty years as an adult) I’ve never seen anything remotely approaching the utter ruthlessness we’ve shown so far in this year’s championship. There were hints of this form last year – against Leitrim and Down and for part of the semi-final against Dublin – but this year it’s been the consistent application of the same template, game after game, that has been so impressive.

The self-assured performances on the pitch have also, I think, translated into a significant shift in thinking on the terraces too. Following Mayo has always been a seats-of-the-pants experience yet this year it has, by comparison, often bordered on the serene.  I don’t recall too many championship matches involving Mayo where the outcome (in particular in our favour) was assured with the bulk of the seventy minutes still to play but that was the case on every occasion, bar the Tyrone match, this summer.

This has meant that Mayo supporters have been a relaxed bunch in this campaign and so, when the pressure came on against Tyrone, I sensed no panic amidst the faithful in the Cusack Stand. There was some mild impatience, for sure, that the anticipated fun hadn’t started on schedule but once we had wrested control of the contest from the Red Hands early in the second half, the happy, carefree mood that’s been there all summer was quickly restored.

There are other things that may be pointed to in arguing that this final marks a departure from previous ones. We’re evens with the bookies to win, we’ve no problem with being talked up and we have strength in depth within our panel in a way we’ve never had before.

And yet … despite all these positive markers, every Mayo supporter knows full well that success on Sunday is in no way guaranteed. We know we’ve got a great team but we’re realistic enough to recognise that Dublin are no slouches either. We also know that it’ll take a special performance from every one of our lads if we’re to engineer a different outcome to this final compared to the crushing disappointments of all the other ones.

But, as another saying goes, if you’re not in you can’t win. We’re in – and with the minors as well as the seniors this time – and our repeated ability to dust ourselves down and redouble our efforts surely speaks volumes for our determination to reach the summit. So while there’s simply no way of knowing in advance if this year will really be different for us, what we do know is that James Horan and his team have given us every reason to believe that it will.

26 thoughts on “Will this one be different?

  1. How great it is to have a team that allows us to dream.Here is mine.
    On that wonderful Sunday night I will be thinking of and talking to those of the family who could not be in Croke Park but who will also be mad with joy.
    On the Monday when I will be going to Castlebar to welcome home the team I will pass through the village where I was born and grew up and where my father and mother are at rest.I will visit them and whisper the good news over their grave.I will thank them for all they gave me and especially then for my love of place and love of sport.I will remember my father in the old days bringing us to the matches and later hearing how my mother,unable to bear the tension,would be walking up and down to the road saying her prayers.I will be glad that just as my father was at the finals of 36 and 50 and 51 I was lucky enough to be there in 2013.
    The names from the past will be coming in on the breeze:Tot Mc Gowan,Quinn,Kelly and Burke from 36:Durkin and Wynne,Forde, Prendergast and Flanagan now being joined by the team of 2013,already famous,already joining the immortals.I will be thinking too of the great men like Willie Joe,the men we looked up to,the men good enough to wear the county jersey.
    And then the spirits of my father and mother will join us and we will be like small happy children again heading off to Castlebar with our beloved parents to greet and thank our heroes.
    Great days for Mayo,great wonderful days for Mayo!

  2. Great piece as always WJ, think all involved here know the pain that has been endured over the years, especially those living outside of the county who had to return to jeers and sniggers the Monday after another Final defeat..
    This time I think it will be different, there seems to be a sense of belief and confidence within the team of their abilities, a plan in place and as they showed in the Tyrone game an ability to keep the head, figure out what’s wrong and fix it.

    Anyway enjoy the build up, we are where every county in the country wants to be right now, and most will never get close, so that fact alone needs to be enjoyed and make you proud be to from the County Mayo!

  3. As always Willie Joe – great piece. Believe, believe believe and please God it will happen. This year I think is different – game on game & year on year this team have improved – making changes and improving all the time. We are truly lucky to have something to dream about and what joy they have brought us so far. Let’s hope our dream comes true on Sunday.

    Wolfie – your post has just made me cry. I surely do hope you are coming to Castlebar and visiting your beloved parents on the way and letting them know the good news. Great wonderful days for Mayo is right and hopefully we will have many more to come. Up Mayo and good luck to everyone still looking for tickets.

  4. Nice piece WJ.

    ah here Wolfie – the emotion in your comment is unreal. Fair play, well put.

    Should we win, I’d safely say i’ll be a mumbling, blubbering, mess of a man. I don’t think I’d be alone in that either.

    Hon Mayo

  5. Should be a NSFW tag on some of these posts…

    Wolfie I’m crying in the office in Dublin and trying to disguise it as a headcold.

    Mayo for Sam. Mayo forever.

  6. Emotional stuff!!!

    As always in the finals, I’ll kick every ball, I’ll take the hits, I’ll get up and I’ll drive on…
    That’s the way we Mayo folk do it.
    In the past years, the talk left me after the games, I’d have an early night (no sunday game) and I would put on a brave face the next morning. I work in Dublin, so there’s always plenty opinions. My wife (Galway woman) would know it’s just best to leave me to myself for a few days.
    I think each time it happened, it hurt something inside me, deep inside me.

    This sunday (game 6), I expect a different result. I don’t know what I will do or how I will react, but the pride I will have will make me walk as tall as a giant, not sure about the talk, some blubbering maybe. the sunday game will be the most exciting thing since my parents let me watch “V” for the first time.
    When I do get back to work, there will be no gloating, there will be no need as my permanent grin will say it all.

  7. To all mayo fans out there ,I am welcoming ye all to drop in to Parnells GAA club on sunday on route to the game. Parnells is home to ex mayo star conor mortimer and current Dublin captain stephen cluxton. There will be cavery dinner from early and also drinks available in the bar also so why not drop in for a drink or a bite to eat before the big game.

  8. While it is the Dubs we are playing on Sunday, in many ways it doesnt really matter who/what team we are playing.
    I think we are more playing against the backdrop of six all ireland final defeats. Deny it all they like, but I feel that is our teams biggest motivation to win on Sunday.

    Following last years final, and its well documentted now of course, that many of the lads couldnt wait to get back out on the field training again, for they realized they had left it behind them that day. That to me was huge, because it demonstrated the attitude and frame of mind was right.
    When these lads go out onto Croke Park on Sunday, they will for sure recall how they felt after last years defeat and by god they will be motivated to not let that happen again. They will not be denied and we must roar them on, for they carry the hopes and dreams of Mayo ppl all over the world.

    In a couple of hours, I’ll board a plane in Newark, heading home, to Mayo. A few weeks ago, I booked a flight and made plans on the slim chance I’d get a ticket. Regardless, I would be home, in Mayo, in the company of my family, friends, neighbors, the village, the ould timers…man I love the place. I’m happy to say my hunt for tickets has been successful and I’ll be in Croke park on Sunday. I realize I’m one of the lucky ones and feel for the many loyal supporters who will not have a ticket.

  9. ….best of luck to all travelling from near and far. Cant wait to get to the mayo border…always get a “shiver” when I cross into it.

  10. Odds for a Mayo double victory on Sunday?
    That would be some day, lose so many in each grade and go out and end the famine with a bang

  11. Jesus lads i cant contain myself here in work, i just feel like roaring “hon mayo ta fuck” but i work with mostly Dubs and dont want to give them the oppurtunity to destroy me if things go pear shaped on Sunday. Agree with so many posters on here, i get a lump in my throat seeing the Mayo flag on the quays every morning. Wolfie, your comment seems very familiar, did you post that recently on a different thread? Either way it gets the hairs on the back of the neck standing.

    Mayo till i die.

  12. Great bit of writing surely Willie Joe.. We really do have grounded, sound, unbiased facts behind us this time in our belief that we can cross the line..

    Brilliant TonyK.. I remember when I was let watch V for the first time too.. scary stuff watching them aliens eat mice like that.. Hopefully the sight of the O’Shea brothers cleaning up midfield will have a similar effect on Dublin this Sunday..

    Still waiting on a ticket.. draw only taking place in the club this evenin.. very late.. Anyways fingers crossed..

    C’mon Mayo

  13. David of course we win the double.In James Horan we a manager of the highest calibre managing a team that have the ability in class and sheer determination to beat any thing that is put in front of them
    The minor manager who is a nephew of the great Joco Gilvarry member of the 50/51 teams a native of Killala.This minor team are a class act and I think it was a fanastic gesture for Enda to include former members of the last minor team to win the Tom Markham cup in1985 on his management team namely M.Fitzmaurice and B Heffernan.I remember the last Sam visited Killala it was on display in Johnnie Hannicks window for a week or so I dont think we understood the significant of it at the time being too young.So here,s to the return of Sam and Tom and forget about a stupid curse which is a load of crap.

  14. Devils advocate .

    Dublin win, they storm into a lead, Brogan makes caff look like a lost boy and bursts the net twice, there ff line make mince meat of us, the hill is electrifying, Mayo are left stranded on the runners up podium once again.

    Would it destroy the soul of Mayo football for the foreseeable future?

    As much as I hate to say something so definite but I really think we have to win this one .

  15. Great piece W J as usual,
    Jasus lads and girls ye should know by now it’s not safe to read this blog at work. As a matter of fact the only place is in your own bathroom with lots of bog roll, especially this time of year.
    Yes I too believe we are stronger this year . Assuming we name an unchanged team from the semi , we will have 6 changes from last year, although some are enforced. None of the lads not on the starting 15 are slouches, so this IMO must make us stronger. Could any of us imagine not playing Keith in the backs last year. We have two new lads there now and couldn’t see either being dropped.
    In midfield SoS is playing well and Alan Freeman is much improved this year.

    This is our year

  16. Sean Burke – We have to win this one and may God help the Dubs in the process.
    An aside, there is a rumour that God was seen in O’Connell Street in Dublin wearing Mayo colours. Now, it’s only a rumour!!!

  17. Sean Burke,

    Good question, honest answer is no, Mayo will be back win lose or draw on Sunday. Young profile of a team for the most part and some good young talent in the minor ranks at the minute.
    A win on Sunday for both teams is very possible, don’t entertain any other thoughts. It’s not good for you, just realise that the players will be full throttle to get the result they want.

  18. Just watched the 06 game all over again, it’s on RTE Player for the next week. I have it on DVD but the novelty was too much and I had to watch it again!

    It’s unbearable now. I just want it to be Sunday.

    On the way to Mayo Quiz Night in Bosh to occupy my mind for a while. Up For the Match then tomorrow! Thanks Christ I follow the NFL too which has occupied all of Sunday evening and night, Monday night and again tomorrow night!

    Hurry up time!

  19. This time tommorow Il be boarding the runways in jfk i wud like to thank all above that comment on this blog and especially Willie Joe for i may be living far away but reading the blog every evening makes me feel at home ..safe flight also mister mayo ..we gonna win this lads and ladies

  20. @nycgreenandred, cheers man! Same to you. I’m in Newark right now about to board for Home! Can hardly contain the excitement, tickets secured. Can’t wait to get to cross into County Mayo, home sweet home’

    I echo your thoughts about this blog, it’s such a great resource for mayo ppl everywhere.
    Confidence is high for Sunday. We’re Mighty Bucks!

  21. Safe travelling, nycgreenandred and Mister Mayor – I was once an emigrant myself some years ago and so I know full well how you must be feeling right now as you get ready to travel home. Hopefully this trip will be one that lives long in the memory.

  22. Heres the script.
    Mayo take the field… Expectations are high in Mayo of breaking their duck in modern times… Dublin start strong and get an early goal by Mannion…. Mayo claw their way back to within two points at half time… The second half is cagy…. Cluxton kicks a few long range frees…. Mayo chase the game and leave a hole at the back….. Sub McManamon goals a second for the Dubs to win it by 2-12 to 0-14…. Mayo are shellshocked again as Dubs take the cup….. Cian O’Sullivan gets MOTM for his driving runs and 3 points from play..

    Thats the script as we know it here in Mayo. That has happened us in the past so we know of nothing else. Ive seen nothing other than this in my lifetime.. For a different outcome something has to change… Where is this change going to come from? I dont know as theres nothing in the (final) memory bank? What will happen if we do win? Will our lives change? I dont know… Will our lives lose something…something we have been obsessed with for the past 3 decades and longer for others? If we win one will we a) Keep winning them? or b) Slide down the ranks cos we have got there….. I dont know… Im going mad thinking about this… Four more days…

  23. dave,
    Fair play and thanks for the invite. My missus is a Thomas Davis woman so the conflict is heating up here in our house, there is even an Arnotts flag out the top window. I really am looking forward to Sunday. For all the negative talk about the standard of football this year it is great to see the 2 best “footballing” teams making it to the final. No matter who wins I think football will be the real winner.

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