Monday 23 July 2018

Breathless stalemate - now they have got to do it all again

Mayo supporters celebrate a late point. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Mayo supporters celebrate a late point. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Ryan Nugent

Mayo must really enjoy replays - the Westerners sure know how to put their supporters through the wringer, year in, year out.

And they'll have to sit, shout, celebrate and grimace all again next week as they tackle Kerry for another crack at ending the 66-year drought without Sam Maguire.

But their supporters wouldn't have it any other way... or so some of them say at least.

"Some chances, some chances," muttered RTÉ pundit Dessie Dolan, as he left the Croke Park lift.

But isn't that the beauty of attending a big Mayo match.

No matter what the form, it's inevitably going to go to the death.

Kerry fans Emily O’Driscoll and Ciara McNamara. Photo: Fergal Phillips
Kerry fans Emily O’Driscoll and Ciara McNamara. Photo: Fergal Phillips

And you know that it's probably going to go to a replay or extra-time.

It's a wonder the GAA didn't just give details of the replay at half-time.

Everyone could feel it coming - and so it was 2-14 apiece at the end of the semi-final.

Going into the game both sides of the divide were as buoyant as ever.

Aine White, Róisín Fitzmaurice and Ailish Heffernan. Photo: Justin Farrelly
Aine White, Róisín Fitzmaurice and Ailish Heffernan. Photo: Justin Farrelly

The bite-back to "Mayo to do it... handy" was that "you can't bet against the Kerrymen".

What was perhaps more galling was that despite the helter-skelter frenetics that swept through the 80 minutes or so of football that was witnessed, those leaving Croker still felt the same.

Those that travelled from Kerry (they were heavily outnumbered) insisted Mayo had their chance yesterday, and may give up on winning next week, because when the sun shines on GAA HQ, it'll be light work.

Meanwhile, those bellowing out Saw Doctors classic 'The Green and Red of Mayo' as they marched into the stadium walked out feeling unstoppable.

Mayo fan Orla Madden (8) flies the flag with her father Padraic from Ballycastle after the epic
battle. Photo: Justin Farrelly
Mayo fan Orla Madden (8) flies the flag with her father Padraic from Ballycastle after the epic battle. Photo: Justin Farrelly

"The only problem with that draw is we'll only have a one-day head start on Tyrone or Dublin to get tickets for the final," one die-hard said as he left the stadium.

Brave move, given they've lost their past two semi-final replays.

But that's Mayo people for you, forever the optimists - they just don't give up.

Padraic Madden, from Ballycastle, insisted it's not all about the chase for the Holy Grail, as some might make you believe.

When Aidan O'Shea & Co go to war for you, what more can you ask for?

Mayo fan Noreen Murphy. Photo: Fergal Phillips
Mayo fan Noreen Murphy. Photo: Fergal Phillips

"It was brilliant, I wouldn't change the Mayo team for anything, I don't care," he said.

"Every day they go out, they're brilliant.

"If we win it playing the way Mayo play, it'll be extra-special."

Down south, their supporters are regularly jibed for not making it to Croke Park until the third week of September.

Given the raucous howls of Mayo throughout yesterday, the Kingdom's bandwagon may need to begin rolling in August, to give their side an extra edge.

"Glad to have another day out, Mayo lost their chance," Ann-Marie Murphy, from Milltown, said.

Most of Kerry was feeling the same.

"I don't think many Kerry people expected that from Mayo, and Kerry didn't show their best, so hopefully the next day they'll be on top form," said Róisín Fitzmaurice (26), from Lixnaw.

So, can Mayo curb what Joe Brolly described as "Kingdomitis" by full time next Saturday evening?

If not, it'll be another long winter of patronising neutrals saying: "It would be great to see Mayo do it one day, wouldn't it?"

Irish Independent

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