Sunday 18 February 2018

3,000km and counting: Meet the diehard Mayo fans going above and beyond to support their county

Mayo fans Declan, Frank, Andrea, Joseph, Sean and Ronan Quinn, from Castlebar, Co Mayo, ahead of today’s All Ireland semi-final replay with Kerry. Photo: Michael Donnelly
Mayo fans Declan, Frank, Andrea, Joseph, Sean and Ronan Quinn, from Castlebar, Co Mayo, ahead of today’s All Ireland semi-final replay with Kerry. Photo: Michael Donnelly

Ryan Nugent

If they do it this year, it'll be a minimum of 3,190km travelled.

Mayo supporters will have journeyed the equivalent distance of a nice drive to Russia and arriving a short distance from Moscow.

And it even looks set to eclipse Tyrone's route to the 2005 final, when the Red Hand clocked around 2,700km as they took home Sam for a second time.

That's roughly what Mayo will have travelled after this afternoon.

The Tyrone route has regularly been mentioned as the most difficult and enduring way of claiming the title, but the northerners only visited three stadiums en route - one being their own.

Mayo, meanwhile, have been to Galway, Clare, Limerick and Croke Park along with their home ground in Castlebar.

Supporters estimate that €250 has been spent on match tickets for the Championship alone. This will eclipse the €300 mark if Mayo are successful this afternoon, and the ticket scramble for the final kicks off.

Today's clash is their ninth of the summer.

But following years of defeat after heartbreaking defeat, what prompts such loyalty to the cause?

As one Mayo supporter said in passing yesterday, "the Championship would be a damp squib without us".

Frank Quinn (39), from Castlebar, reckons a trip to GAA HQ costs between €300-€350 each time for him and his family.

He, his brother Declan, wife Andrea, and kids Sean (8), Ronan (7) and Joseph (4) are all die-hard fans.

But isn't it all worth it? Especially when you get the feeling you're right there within touching distance each year.

The Holy Grail is coming...with a bit of luck, he says.

"It's been a rollercoaster, it's unpredictable," explained Frank, who gets a supporter's bus to the games organised by publican Mick Byrne. "We're heading for nine semi-finals in seven years, it's unheard of. We're very close to doing it."

Frank and the family are on their way to the capital. Same again, six days on from last Sunday.

"We're on the bus at 8am and we won't be back in Castlebar until 11pm," he says. "In the league, we went to Kerry, Tyrone and Dublin, too," he adds.

The bus, labelled 'Byrne's Babes', was almost entirely booked up by supporters before they reached the West last weekend. At a charge of €25 a head, supporters get the return trip and breakfast along they way. They arrive in time to get some swift pints in, then onward to roar their side on.

And if they are lucky enough to make it to the final next month - don't be surprised if they take a longer route home, in order to avoid Foxford - and another so-called curse on their success.

Irish Independent

Promoted Links

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Promoted Links

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport