‘The stick I’m getting is serious’ – divided loyalties for Tyrone woman living in Mayo

Tyrone native Grace Doherty and her Mayo husband Declan Doherty ahead of Saturday’s All-Ireland football final.

Ciaran O'Neill

A Tyrone woman living in Mayo has divided loyalties in the run-up to this weekend’s All-Ireland football final.

Grace Doherty is from a GAA-mad family but has fallen in love with Mayo since moving there two years ago.

“I will be over the moon if Tyrone win but I won’t be disappointed if Sam comes to Mayo,” admits the 37-year-old teacher who works at Moyne College in Ballina.

Saturday’s game will be the first ever clash between the two teams in an All-Ireland final.

Tyrone will be hoping to secure their fourth All-Ireland title following previous victories in 2003, 2005 and 2008.

Mayo are looking to end a 70-year wait for success after their last win in 1951.

Throw in the dreaded Mayo ‘curse’ and the desperate scramble for tickets due to Covid-19 restrictions, and the game has all the makings of a classic.

From the village of Killyclogher in Co Tyrone, Mrs Doherty met her husband, Mayo man Declan, while they were both working in London.

The couple married in 2019 and moved back to Ireland to set up home at Bangor Erris.

Since meeting her partner, Mrs Doherty has been a big supporter of Mayo and has shared in the county’s tough times in recent years.

In the last 10 years, Mayo have been beaten in five All-Ireland finals.

“Mayo have a fantastic team and they are so hungry for success,” said Mrs Doherty.

“They have been through so much heartbreak in the last few years and it would be great to finally see them win the All-Ireland. It’s just a pity they’re up against Tyrone.”

Work has been a difficult environment for her in the past week since Tyrone overcame Kerry to secure their place in the All-Ireland final.

“The banter and stick I am getting from my colleagues and pupils is serious at the minute,” she said.

“They’re telling me not to come into school on the Monday after the match if Tyrone win.”

As with so many Tyrone and Mayo fans, the Dohertys are desperately trying to get tickets for the match.

“I have been to Croke Park on so many occasions,” said Mrs Doherty. “Even win, lose or draw, it is always a special experience and I would love to be there on Saturday.

“My father and brother are Tyrone diehards too and they are desperately trying to get their hands on tickets as well.”

However, should the hunt for tickets fail, they have a plan B.

“If we don’t get tickets, we are going to put up a big screen on the side of our house and project the match onto it.

“If my father doesn’t manage to get a ticket, we have been talking about them coming down here to watch the match as a family.

“While there is a lot of friendly rivalry, it would be lovely to watch the match together. It’s the first ever final between Mayo and Tyrone and it’s just great to see a final without Dublin or Kerry for once.

“I know most neutrals will be shouting for Mayo because of all the team has been through, but I’m still a Tyrone woman through and through.”