The flags and the bunting have been put up around the towns and villages of the county. Songs have been written and learned with gusto, while those who left the wild sod of their homeland in search of better things afar, are clutching boarding cards to come home. It can only mean one thing — Mayo is in an All Ireland final.
For the fifth time in the last 23 Septembers a group of young men from the county head to Croke Park with the hopes and dreams of hundreds of thousands at home and abroad on their shoulders.
But this year there is different air in the county, the manic excitement that greeted things in 1989 or 1996 or 2004 have been replaced by a quieter form of excitement. Where in 1989, getting to the final was an achievement in itself worth celebrating, this year, it has been a more muted but no less enthusiastic build up to the final. There has been the usual bit of craic in the build up, with a group of lads who climbed Mount Errigal in Donegal getting a couple of thousand hits on YouTube in two days.
Hunt for tickets
The search for tickets has not been any easier, which those who are still on the hunt will attest to, as contacts home and abroad have been tapped up for the magic piece of paper for Sunday. Those club executive members whose job it is to distribute them have no doubt had to charge their phones a couple of times a day because of the sheer volume of calls they have been getting from members.
This year though for once the dedicated have been rewarded with those who joined Cáirde Mhaigheo and those who bought a GAA season ticket guaranteed at least a ticket to Sunday’s showdown. Also another nice touch this year from the Mayo GAA County Board was the decision to guarantee a ticket to any living player who has played championship football for Mayo in the past.
On the field matters
As for matters on the field, Mayo are expected to name their starting line up for the clash at some stage today. The only doubt lingering is over Colm Boyle. The Davitts man had to miss out on starting the All Ireland semi-final against Dublin due to an illness. He did make an appearance at the end of the semi-final, but his participation in the final is still in doubt. Chris Barrett was a top class replacement the last day and would have forced himself into consideration by his display against last year’s All Ireland champions anyway. The bookmakers are making Donegal strong favourites with one national bookmaker offering odds of 4/9 on Donegal with Mayo 5/2 outsiders.
This week the Mayo Advertiser has produced a 32 page souvenir All Ireland final supplement inside this paper. In it you will find interviews with James Horan, Aidan O’Shea, Barry Moran, and Andy Moran. You can also read expert opinion and analysis from our columnists, John Maughan and Ray Silke. There are also stories from fans at home and abroad as well as a contribution in Irish from a Donegal native who has been living in Mayo for the past 40 years.
On Sunday evening you can look back on how the game went online at www.advertiser.ie/mayo where we will be reporting from the goings on in Croke Park on the field and from the dressing room afterwards. All roads lead to Dublin and you’ll be well covered for all the action by the Mayo Advertiser.