London job done, now it is back to home affairs

Smile for the camera: Aidan O'Shea of Mayo poses for photos with supporters following the game in London last weekend. Photo: Sportsfile.

Smile for the camera: Aidan O'Shea of Mayo poses for photos with supporters following the game in London last weekend. Photo: Sportsfile.

The Connacht championship is the most special one in the entire All Ireland championship, with every one of the province's home counties kickstarting their championship adventure on foreign soil in either London or New York twice in a five year cycle. Last weekend it was Mayo's turn to head east to London and while there was a football match to be played, it was as much a social event where old friends and new acquaintances soaked up the sunshine and enjoyed each other's company from early in the morning till well into the evening.

One thing that is never in doubt is that Mayo have some unbelievable faithful followers and anyone who has ever been to Gaelic Park in the Bronx or in Ruisilp in West London when Mayo come to town can vouch for that, and it was no different last weekend. Flights out of Knock, Dublin, and Shannon were jam packed full of the faithful from the tip of Erris to the bridge in Shrule and everywhere in between.

While the atmosphere before the game was more akin to the early stages of a festival as people sipped pints and plastered on the sun cream, there was still a job to do on the field and Mayo did that job in a professional manner, although Stephen Rochford will still have plenty to work on with his players this week as they stayed on for a training camp.

The game was won by Mayo in a clinical period midway through the first half when Mayo hit their hosts for 2-6, it had taken Mayo a while to get going. Mayo pressed up hard on London on their own kick-out when it became apparent the exiles wanted to persist with a short kick-out strategy, and Mayo's first goal came from this tactic with Kevin McLoughlin intercepting a short kick out and setting up Conor Loftus for a simple palm to the back of the net. Loftus who made his championship bow coming off the bench finished up with 1-2 to his name after he came on for the black-carded Cillian O'Connor and laid further stake to a claim of a starting spot in the side.

Aidan O'Shea turned over the ball from London and charged through on goal before it ended up with Jason Doherty finding the back of the net for Mayo's second goal, and ending the game as a contest 11 minutes before the break, to put Mayo 10 clear and that was all she wrote of this game as a contest and the crowds could get back to enjoying the sun and the pints.

Mayo remained clinical enough in the second half and they saw out the game with ease to book their place against Galway in the semi-final in a fortnight's time. When all was said and done, the players hung around for a good while after the game and mingled with family and supporters and posed for more selfies with the travelling faithful who had made the trip than you would find some of the Kardashians take in a month. Before they headed off to recover and get ready for their training camp. Job done in a professional manner and much bigger things to come.

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