Tuesday 27 September 2016

Dinner talk is tense! How this Mayo family is divided in two for today's clash with the Boys in Blue

Published 18/09/2016 | 10:02

Damien and Noelle Loftus with their children Stephen aged 15, Alannah aged 13, Saoirse aged 10, Aoibheann aged 8, and John aged 6 at their home in Westport, Co. Mayo. Photo : Keith Heneghan / Phocus.
Damien and Noelle Loftus with their children Stephen aged 15, Alannah aged 13, Saoirse aged 10, Aoibheann aged 8, and John aged 6 at their home in Westport, Co. Mayo. Photo : Keith Heneghan / Phocus.

AMID a sea of red and green flags around Croagh Patrick in Westport Co Mayo, a lone blue banner stands out.

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In Westport Co Mayo the Loftus family are sharply divided about today's All-Ireland clash.

Dad Damien is a true blue supporter who has lived in Mayo for the past 10 years.

He has been joined by his two son’s Stephen (16)  and John (6) cheering on the boys in blue from behind enemy lines.

But with mum Noelle and three daughters Alannah (13), Saoirse (10) Aoibheann (8) all die hard Mayo fans, talk around the dinner table has become tense.

To make matters worse Damien, who played for St Vincents in Dublin, is also the manager of the Westport team which includes two of the Mayo squad Lee Keegan and Kevin Keane.

“The mood in the house is still quite fractious, all the girls are cheering for Mayo and myself and the boys will be wearing the blue. We’re all going to the game but we won’t be sitting together, definitely different sides of the pitch,” he said.

"The three oldest were born in Dublin but the girls all defected to their mum's side," he added.

All the children are members of the local Westport GAA club, but even that isn't testing the allegiances of the boys.

"All Stephen wants is to play for St Vincents when he's older.

“The added pressure is I’m the manager of the Westport senior team so I’ve two guys playing in the match, so I can’t be too vociferous in what I say about this game. The club is certainly a little quieter than usual,” he joked.

However, he remains more than hopeful that Dublin will pull off the win.

“Part of me would be happy for Mayo but I’ll put it this way what percentage that part is I’ll be keeping to myself,” he added.

But Damien is not the only man behind enemy lines.

Paddy Moran from Bonniconlon Co Mayo has lived in Dublin for over 40 years but he’ll be wearing the green and red with pride on Sunday.

Despite having attended 53 All Ireland finals, he has never seen his beloved Mayo pick up the Sam Maguire.

But he is hopeful that this Sunday may just be the day for the Mayo side.

“I attended my first All Ireland in 1963 when I was only a young lad. It was Galway vs Dublin and Dublin won. I’ve only missed one final since, in 1988 when I was in America, but I was back for the replay.

“But in all those years of attending I’ve never seen Mayo win. It’s remarkable. I would love to see them pick up the Sam Maguire sometime in my lifetime,” he added.

Mr Moran said he had always promised himself he would follow the team for a full week of celebrations if they win the All Ireland, but as he will be flying out to Portugal come Tuesday he might have to put any celebrations on hold.

“If they win they will be celebrating for a lot longer than two weeks so I’ll definitely go home to celebrate with them,” he added.

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