GOD is on Mayo's side for their All-Ireland final clash against Dublin on Sunday.
The parish priest of a riverside town where a 'curse' was supposedly laid on Mayo's All-Ireland winning team of 1951 has given his blessing to the 2013 squad.
Standing on the bridge that spans the River Moy in Foxford yesterday, Fr Padraic Costello expressed scepticism about the curse story.
Popular legend has it that as the winners in 1951 were making their way to Ballina, they failed to pay proper respect when they encountered a funeral. A local priest is said to have been so incensed that he cursed the team, decreeing that while any of its members lived, Mayo would never win an All-Ireland final.
The priest's alleged prophecy appears to be holding. Despite a spate of All-Ireland appearances – seven in total since 1989 – Mayo have yet to repeat the success of 62 years ago.
Fr Costello, a Gaelic player of note in his younger days, has, like all other Mayo people, heard ad infinitum the curse story recounted over the years.
Fr Padraic was doubtful there was ever a funeral, curse or a priest involved in Mayo's ongoing misfortune. "There doesn't seem to be any basis in the curse story," he said. "As Andy Moran, the present team captain, said recently, the reason we haven't won an All-Ireland title since 1951 is because we weren't good enough."
Fr Costello pointed out the authenticity of the 'curse' legend was damaged by the fact that, in one telling, the funeral incident occurred in Foxford, while in another it occurred in Athlone.
Fr Costello won't be celebrating Mass in St Michael's Church, Foxford, on Sunday as he has secured a ticket for the game.
But at Masses locally, he has been interceding on behalf of the squad. "I'm not praying that the team wins," he's anxious to point out, "just that they perform to the best of their ability."
All-Ireland countdown: Sport