Final fever is descending upon us

The adrenaline is pumping, coursing through the veins. The team picked. Tactics discussed. Donegal’s performances analysed. Bags packed. Don’t mess with the routine. Be sure to include a miraculous medal. And that’s just the fans.

Imagine what’s going through the minds of Mayo’s 30-strong squad, their backroom team, the county board and everyone involved in preparing for Sunday’s All-Ireland final?

All roads lead to Croker this Sunday and the slow and gradual build up has been fantastic and very mature of us All-Ireland final veterans. Excitement is definitely reaching fever pitch now as the game approaches. There’s a real sense of “yes we can” about this particular final. But looking back we believed we could do it in the past too and unfortunately our dreams were dashed.

Would we know how to celebrate if we did win? I’m sure we’d figure it out. There’s not too many around who remember that feeling. We certainly know the other side of that coin but we won’t be dwelling on those thoughts this weekend.

Put the positive vibes out there and we will be rewarded. Someone said the stars are aligned in our favour because this final is being played on the same day as the 1951 final - September 23. It must be a good omen.

The county hasn’t gone daft in the build-up, so we have to win.

Donegal came out on tops in our last and only championship encounter. It must be our turn this time.

We’re being very mature about the whole thing.

But we can’t help looking to superstition and God and the seventh son of the seventh son for guidance and protection.

And thankfully the players have been protected from the hype. Those who were at the player’s press conference in Breaffy House Resort last week were firmly rooted in the present. There was no looking beyond the final and to homecomings and celebrations. Their respect for manager James Horan was evident and real and something the gaffer has earned and not demanded. He has brought a style of play that is reaping rewards and the players are responding to his style of management too. They’re using individualised training programmes and sports psychology. To win there must be a meeting of body and mind and they must respond to Donegal’s big strength - their fitness.

The Mayo Advertiser sports editor Colm Gannon has no doubts about Sunday’s outcome: Mayo are going to win by two points. So that’s it. Our journalist Geraldine Carr has observed that both managers are “fine men”. There’s no one who isn’t affected by Sunday’s showdown.

With Donegal the bookies favourites Mayo are definitely worth a few bob for the gamblers out there.

Working in a newspaper is a fantastic place to be in the build up to an All-Ireland final. We’ve been inundated with photos of children, dogs, cars, gardens, sheds, you name it, the people of Mayo have painted it in the green and red. Well not the children and the dog, they’re wearing jerseys, but the local hardware stores have definitely had a run on paint.

Unfortunately we don’t have a ticket printing machine at the Advertiser offices but hopefully our post match interviews and analysis which will be available to view on www.advertiser.ie/mayo following the match will give those at home something to mull over following the final whistle.

Don’t forget to keep your copy of our 32-page souvenir All Ireland final supplement. It could be something to cherish in days and years to come.

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