Tuesday 16 January 2018

1951: Mayo brace before drought

Mayo 2-8
Meath 0-9

Martin Breheny

Martin Breheny

Who would have thought on the evening of September 23, 1951 as Mayo celebrated a second successive All-Ireland crown that 59 years later they would be waiting for their next triumph?

Certainly not the Mayo supporters who were living the dream, thanks to the exploits of an outstanding team who had powered their way to glory with a win over Louth in the 1950 All-Ireland final.

Could they join the small band of teams who, up to then, had won All-Ireland doubles?

Mayo hammered Galway in the 1951 Connacht final before holding off the strong challenge of Kerry in the All-Ireland semi-final.

Mayo kicked 22 wides in the drawn semi-final, but were somewhat more efficient in the replay, winning by two points to set up a clash with Meath, the 1949 champions.

Meath started well and exploited wind advantage to open up a three-point lead before Mayo replied with a goal from Tom Langan.

A second Mayo goal by Joe Gilvarry gave them an interval lead of 2-3 to 0-8, raising expectations of a tight, tense second half.

However, Mayo were by far the superior side on the restart and outscored their rivals by 0-5 to 0-1 in the second half, with Padraig Carney especially prominent. It was an excellent performance by a Mayo team at the peak of their considerable powers.

Captained by Sean Flanagan, who also led them to glory in 1950, they were regarded as one of the best teams of their generation. They were well fancied to make a bold bid for the three-in-a-row in 1952, but, remarkably, the decline came quite swiftly.

Mayo lost the next two Connacht finals to Roscommon and though they won one in 1955, they would go another 12 years without a provincial success.

The Mayo team of 1950-51 is still revered in a county who can't quite figure out why, after capturing an All-Ireland double all those years ago, they are heading into their 60th year waiting for their next visit from Sam Maguire.

They reached the final in 1989, '96, '97, 2004 and 2006, but the closest they came to glory was when they forced Meath to a replay in 1996.

So great was the impact made by the Mayo team of 1950-51 that Flanagan and Langan were selected on the Teams of the Century and the Millennium. Flanagan was selected at left full-back, with the full-forward slot going to Langan.

Mayo -- S Wynne; J Forde, P Prendergast, S Flanagan (capt); J Staunton, H Dixon, P Quinn; E Mongey, J McAndrew; P Irwin, P Carney, S Mulderrig; M Flanagan, T Langan, J Gilvarry. Sub: L Hastings for Dixon.

Meath -- K Smyth; M O'Brien, P O'Brien, K McConnell; S Heery (capt), C Kelly, C Hand; D Taaffe, P Connell; F Byrne, M McDonnell, P Meegan; B Smyth, J Reilly, P McDermott. Subs: P Dixon for Hand, C Hand for Heery.

Ref -- W Delaney (Laois).

Attendance: 78,201

Irish Independent

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