An acquaintance of mine from Galway and his wife took a few nights away in lovely Westport last February to celebrate Valentine's Day. When he had a few jars taken one evening he went talking football with an older man in his sixties in a local tavern and proceeded to start slagging him about Mayo's defeats in All-Ireland finals since 1989.
To his complete mortification, the lifelong red and green supporter got quite upset. And possibly with a few pots on board too - shed a few tears of sorrow - and explained how he had been at all those harrowing defeats, and included for good measure, the two games against Kerry last season in the All-Ireland semi-final. It has been at All-Ireland level for Mayo, as Keith Duggan of The Irish Times titled his book A House of Pain.
However, what is seldom acknowledged or commented upon is that Mayo have been by far the most consistent team in the west as regards garnering provincial titles over the past 20 years. And that consistency and provincial dominance should not be easily disregarded. This Sunday, they will take on Sligo in Hyde Park (4pm ) aiming to collect their fifth consecutive Nestor Cup and if they achieve that feat it will be well worth celebrating. The bookies have them as massive 10/1 on favourites to close the deal, with Neil Carew's men available at 15/2 and better, to collect the trophy.
Based on what I observed in Pearse Stadium against Galway in the semi-final and the fact that you would assume Mayo have improved since that joust, you would expect Pat Holmes and Noel Connelly's men to be good enough to contain the attacking threat of David Kelly, Adrian Marren and Pat Hughes. If they do that and the hulk from Breaffy gets going at all, they will be successful. However, I think that Sligo plus seven at 10/11 is a good bet, as I do not see the Mayo forwards running riot on the Yeats men up front. The last time these sides met in a provincial final, there was not too much between them, and Mayo by three or four points would be my considered view.
In Pearse Stadium on Saturday, Galway will take on Derry and the winners of that game will face the losers of either the Ulster or Connacht final in the next round. Kevin Walsh's men did well to turn over Armagh in the Athletic grounds last weekend, however, beating Brian McIver's team will be a tough task. With home advantage and young Damien Comer going very well up front, the Tribesmen can sneak a win in what should be a very tight affair.
Finally, I was very surprised to see some comments attributed to Roscommon manager John Evans on Monday. The Kerry man was quoted as saying that the Roscommon players were in their dressing room after their defeat to Fermanagh discussing how much progress they had made over the past year or two. That seemed rather strange behaviour from the Roscommon players. In any losing dressing room I have ever been in, the only discussion that has taken place is about the game just played and how they lost it. Especially as Roscommon had been five points to the good going into the last few minutes, before losing by one. Spin. That is what came to my mind when I read the quotes. Perhaps he was misquoted?