A game for the Gathering

Sunday’s historic Connacht final will provide an unrivalled weekend of entertainment and sport in Mayo. You can’t help but feel excited about the occasion on so many different levels.

For the sporting enthusiast Connacht Final Sunday is always a special day but when your opposition is London, it takes on a different focus. Many feel that there will be far too much daylight between the teams at half time for it to be a really competitive match. Others are praying for a competitive game to test Mayo and push them further than they have been pushed so far in this year’s championship campaign. The flip side of that is if we are pushed hard by London, it doesn’t bode well for when we meet the heavy weights down the line. Mayo would want to be starting strong from the throw in, there will be no place for snoozing. Horan needs to ensure his team are sharp and focused and leave complacency at home because if they don’t treat this game with respect it will be hard to lift themselves to the next level when the time comes. There is no accounting for what happens on the sporting field but there is every expectation that the title is Mayo’s.

Should we lift the Nestor Cup and claim that elusive three Connacht titles in a row, a feat that has not been achieved since 1951, there is a belief that we could go on to add the Sam Maguire to the trophy cabinet too, since it was in ‘51 that we last claimed the All-Ireland title.

But it is dangerous to look too far ahead and we must first dispose of London in a manner that would give the team and fans the confidence that we are real All-Ireland contenders. Unfortunately we haven’t had the opportunity to showcase our talents on such a scale yet this year.

For the non-sporting enthusiast, this weekend is a chance for them to engage in the fringe entertainment surrounding this great game. Saturday and Sunday nights in Castlebar and surrounding towns promises to be a lively affair with the influx of London supporters and friends diverging on Mayo for the weekend.

You don’t have to love football to revel in the occasion of it all.

It is a great opportunity for the hospitality sector to showcase why Mayo has it all going on from excellent value and quality food to top class entertainment to some of the country’s finest hotels and B&B’s. This weekend will surely set Mayo on the map as a top tourism destination.

And what better year then the year of the Gathering for all this to happen. If the GAA tried, they couldn’t have orchestrated such a unique and exciting Connacht final from a historic and entertainment view point. Many GAA clubs are organising their own Gathering events, but this competitive encounter must be the best unofficial Gathering to be organised by the GAA this year.

London themselves are in search of history having never won a Connacht title. In fact the last time they played Mayo in Castlebar in a Connacht championship game was in 1975.

And so the stage is set. Let’s all offer a big Céad Míle Fáilte to the exiles, their families and friends and enjoy one of Ireland’s greatest traditions.


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