Never showing the white feather, wherever we go

GAA: All Ireland Senior Football Championship Final

They won't be there in person, but Mayo supporters all over the globe will be tuned in and backing their side on Saturday evening. Photo: Sportsfile

They won't be there in person, but Mayo supporters all over the globe will be tuned in and backing their side on Saturday evening. Photo: Sportsfile

In a year like no other, tomorrow's All Ireland Football Final will be a showpiece like one we've never seen or felt before.

No scramble for tickets, no planning for making the trip to Citywest to hopefully give a hero's welcome, no parade around the hallowed turf to get the blood and fear flowing, no Artane Band lustfully breezing their way through the national anthem and no supporters in full voice urging on their hero's towards immortality.

Instead the cavernous enclave that is Croke Park will just be filled with the calls and roars of those on the field doing battle, football at it's purest, stripped to the raw bones of two sides going at each other to achieve greatness - with no distractions, no hysterics.

It will be something akin to the first time that these players ever stepped foot on a football field as a child playing an under eights game, just a pitch, two goals at either end and for Mayo the same dream that those who do battle in our honour had all those years ago. A dream of being the best they can be and hoping that they can emulate the greats they saw go before them or the ones that their grandparents told them tales of, who brought the greatest honour in the game home to the Heather County.

While it will be oh so different from the norm - it is oh so familiar in so many ways. Mayo's long wait just over 70 minutes away from ending, the hard slog to get here and that most familiar of foes standing in their way - Dublin.

The metropolitans are probably the greatest football team the game has ever seen, the folk down in Kerry might like to think differently but five All Ireland's in a row and going for a sixth, shows the ledger is firmly marked in red in Dublin's favour.

Money, investment and properly executed planning and delivery on what has been given them have taken up plenty of column inches and space on the airwaves over the last few weeks. But one thing that can't be denied is that this is a special team, one that has changed and morphed into something new every few years for sure, but a team of winners who have to be respected and admired.

But there will be plenty of time for that admiration in months and years to come, because blotting that copy book and getting what Mayo deserve after a decade of standing up to the biggest and best in the game and just falling inches short is all that will be on the mind of those involved with this Mayo team.

A team packed full of experience and battered hearts from previous setbacks, but also injected full of the fearlessness of youth and belief, not tainted by the pains of the past or the weight of setbacks.

For James Horan, a man who tasted defeat twice as a player and twice as a manager previously at this stage, he has shown the heart and determination that has seen sons and daughters from this county go on to achieve great things all over the globe as captains of industry, leaders of people and ambassadors for the home sod and he's back once again to try and craft an outcome to warm the hearts of a people who've been 69-years waiting, to have the embers stoked just in the right way, so the fire will flash into full flame once again.

In a year when the world has been turned on its head in so many ways, why can't it have an outcome that will be very different from the one we've seen in years gone by.

Despite defeats in 1989, 1996, 1997, 2004, 2006, 2012, 2013, 2016 and 2017 - we as a county never stopped believing and won't now. John Healy wrote that "No One Shouted Stop" when it came to the death of his hometown of Charlestown as he knew it as progress seemed to pass it by.

But nobody in Mayo is going to shout stop when it comes to following this group of men, like they didn't with the ones that went before them or the ones who will come after them - from the sofa's in Shrule to the ex-pats in Singapore and San Diego - we are sons and daughters of Mayo and they are are representatives on this grandest of occasions.

It might only be a game. But it is a game that has united the people of this county when they can be divided for so many, many other reasons. It's been a year of fear, death, loneliness and tomorrow evening - there could not be a more fitting full stop on the year than the sons of Mayo shouting stop in the faces of the men from the capital.

"From Galway to Dublin, from Derry to Kerry

"New York and ‘Frisco and Boston also

"In Pittsburg, Chicago, Detroit and Toronto

"There are stout-hearted men from the County Mayo

"Now boys, pull together in all sorts of weather

"Don’t show the white feather, wherever you go

"Act each as a brother and help one another

"Like true hearted men from the County Mayo.

- The Boys from the County Mayo


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