Hold the Mayo (win) – we'll be back next year, say loyal fans
THEY had waited 62 years and were convinced that this would be the year to break 'the curse'.
But as the final whistle blew yesterday desperate Mayo fans could hardly believe the outcome.
Among the most disappointed was Fr Peter Quinn, who had helped Mayo to victory back in 1951. He had watched the game in Croke Park as a guest of Taoiseach Enda Kenny.
"I haven't been as disappointed as I am today. They had everything going for them. They had good training and a good team but it just didn't happen.
"The team will be back again next year and I'll be here if I'm still alive. But they should have been here this year to lift that cup," he added.
In Castlebar fans met the end of the epic match with a moment of silence which drew on as the dejection and disappointment hit home. Despite their valiant efforts their wait goes on.
They had been here so many times before, but the blow of losing at the last hurdle had not gotten any easier.
But despite their heartbreak, fans were adamant that they would turn out in their thousands to welcome the team home.
"I'm devastated but they played a blinder. It's so hard but they did us proud. We'll be there to meet them when they get home," said Aoife Moran, from Castlebar, who had made her own jersey for the day.
Sandra Joyce had gone to every Mayo final since 1997 but with tickets like gold dust this year she gave her one and only spot to her dad.
"It was hard and cruel to watch. I really thought this was the year. It was a good game and it came right down to the wire but it was an awful pity. I'll go to the homecoming and show them the support they still have. We will be back," she added.
At Rocky's bar, 11-month-old Adam Lee Moran was happily enjoying the entertainment, oblivious to the heartbreak around him. The young Mayo fan came close to being called Sam after last year's final but his mum Priscilla hopes that this will be his first and last year to witness a Mayo defeat.
Helen Kelleher's disappointment at her county's loss was exacerbated by the smiling faces of her Dublin cousins who had travelled to Castlebar to watch the match.
"I'm so disappointed. My Dublin cousins arrived yesterday and put their flag up next to mine but I'll be burning it when I get home," she said.
The Mayo Minor win had given the side hope, but ending a wait of 28 years for the Minor cup paled in significance next to the 62 years and counting for the Seniors.