Mayo make their mark in New York

GAA: Connacht Senior Football Championship

Back of the net: Evan Regan hits Mayo's goal against New York despite the best efforts of Michael Creegan in Gaelic Park. Photo: Sportsfile.

Back of the net: Evan Regan hits Mayo's goal against New York despite the best efforts of Michael Creegan in Gaelic Park. Photo: Sportsfile.

There is very little that can be said about the Mayo faithful that has not already been said or seen on social media or the RTE news over the past few days.

They came in their thousands, packed out numerous planes to JFK, Newark and Stewart Airports and took over the city that never sleeps in their thousands, with green and red jerseys and tops as ubiquitous as the famous yellow New York taxi.

From Thursday morning, Dublin airport was jammed to the gills with Mayo supporters and the US custom agents will no doubt have been sick of hearing the same reply from the hoards heading over to New York as to the reason for the trip, with "travelling for Mayo match" being the standard response to their query. They might not have heard of gaelic football before last week, but they will have seen first hand that Mayo folk follow their team in their thousands, no matter if it is Newbridge or New York the game is in.

The issue of tickets was all the talk in the build up to the game and while they may have been as scarce on the ground as an All Ireland final ticket - Mayo fans packed the ground out to the gills last Sunday, with the first fans showing up at around 8am to pay cash at the gate for the limited number of tickets on sale that day. They then went on on to brave a day of downpours and biting cold that had more in common with a day on the edge of Achill Island in early Spring than the start of the summer in New York.

The 6,000 odd who packed into the ground in the Bronx saw Mayo canter to an easy win with 21 points to spare and holding New York scoreless for almost half an hour - leading 0-14 to 0-0 at that stage, though Mayo did kick 18 wides over the 70 minutes.

It was a case of just getting the job done and moving on to the next challenge, which is either Leitrim or Roscommon in two weeks' time in the Connacht semi-final. Evan Regan chipped in with 1-5, his goal coming in first half injury time, to send Mayo in leading 1-15 to 0-2 at the short whistle, with eight different players managing to find the target in the first half.

The second half was a more sedate affair on the scoreboard, with Mayo adding just seven points to their first half tally, but the game was done as a contest well before then and it was just about seeing it out and making sure everybody got through with the minimum of fuss and no injuries picked up.

Mayo gave championship debuts to five players including Matthew Ruane, James Carr and James McCormack, who all started the game - with Ciaran Tracey and Conor Diskin coming off the bench to make their championship bows - with Carr becoming the first player from Ardagh to play championship football for the county.

Mayo eased through the game with the likes of Seamus O'Shea, Cillian O'Connor, Chris Barrett, Diarmuid O'Connor and Donal Vaughan being in their match day 26 - come a fortnight's time they will need to call on one or two of those experienced hands when bigger challenges come along.

They may have got soaked to the bone, but it did not stop the Mayo faithful taking over downtown New York once again to drink in all that the city had to offer after the game and enjoy their last few hours or days in the city - leaving them hoping that any potential change in championship structures will still have this trip firmly included in the calendar every five years, for years to come.

For many of those who made the trip, the last few days will have been all about recovery and getting the bodies back in kilter from a trip to remember for many years to come.


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