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A Dub behind enemy lines on the western front

THE town of Castlebar may not be decked in flags and bunting just yet -- but Mayo locals are quietly confident that their men will secure a win against the Dubs tomorrow.

The Herald dropped in behind enemy lines and indulged in some friendly banter with the locals.

Pointing at my Dublin jersey, they joked: "You're a brave woman to be wearing that here."

The pre-match joviality for the semi-final can be witnessed no better than with 'superfan' Michael Parsons.

'Mickey P' has been involved with GAA for many years and cannot wait to watch his county face the Dubs in Croke Park once again.

"We can beat Dublin again like in 06; we have a great team this year. People have said we didn't beat many good teams, but you can only beat the teams in front of you.

"Football is so important here, especially to me. I had to get a new knee three years ago, and when I went in for the operation I was told I had cirrhosis and five months to live.

"Here I am today. I was determined that I wouldn't die before Mayo won the All Ireland."

Another passionate supporter is Mick Byrne, whose pub is known as the GAA pub of Mayo. We've all been looking forward to this since we beat County Down; we just cannot wait to play Dublin.

"The support has been immense. This pub will be inundated tomorrow, but I won't see them -- I'll be cheering the lads on in Croker.


"I think we have a very good chance of beating them; judging by Dublin's performance against Laois, we could well do it."

Meanwhile, GAA stars such as Liam McHale, Martin Carney, Joe Bergin and Finian Hanley joined RTE legend Pat Spillane at the Ulster Bank GAA Force Roadshow earlier this week.

Former Mayo player Liam McHale admitted he is most looking forward to the match as he never faced the Dubs himself in the championship.

"When I was playing, I never played against Dublin, so this is a huge game.

"I've played them once or twice in the league and everybody -- Kerry boys, Cork boys, Limerick boys -- say they love to play Dublin. It's something to look forward to, although I'd much rather be playing than sitting in the stands.

"It'll be interesting as our talent man [Andy Moran] is out, but the Dubs talent man -- Alan Brogan -- is back. I'm hoping that he won't be in great shape won't be as fit as usual."