Writing about sport in the Sunday World for close on three decades has been a roller-coaster ride. There have been some ups, but an awful lot of downs.
There have been death threats, loads of abuse – most of it verbal, though it did threaten to get physical more than once – and I've lost friends due to things I've written or said.
Then there are the endless questions – with one, in particular, topping the list. It's a simple question really: Will Mayo win the All-Ireland this year?
Now, when other teams' fans ask about their chances of winning the All-Ireland I immediately switch to ARM (automatic response mode).
I ramble on about how good their team are, name a few of their star players and mention how unlucky they were the previous year.
This approach doesn't work with the Mayo fans. Firstly, when they ask the question, there is fervour in their tone. They won't be fobbed off with my standard 'sit on the fence' answer.
Looking into their eyes, one can detect the longing that exists for All-Ireland glory. But, as they say, it's not the pain that kills them, it is the hope.
Sadly, over the last 30 years, I have been their grim reaper.
At times, my brutal honesty hasn't gone down too well. Criticising Mayo is like prodding a bear. There is always a reaction and sometimes it's not too edifying.
A couple of incidents spring to mind. I was once attacked outside Croke Park by an elderly Mayo woman, brandishing an umbrella, after an All-Ireland final.
On another occasion I had to be driven away from the stadium, crouching in the backseat of Ger Canning's car with a coat covering my head, to escape a baying Mayo 'mob'.
And, of course, there have been countless abusive phone calls and letters.
The gas thing is that Mayo is my favourite county after my native Kerry.
In my former role as a rural ambassador I discovered that Mayo was the one place where the challenges facing rural Ireland were being addressed by the local communities.
I encountered people with real vision; they were gifted with an entrepreneurial spirit and a real 'get-up-and-go' attitude. Their football team possess the same qualities.
They are hard-working group and have a never-say-die attitude. They have an unrivalled passion for wearing the Mayo jersey, which is reflected in their play.
I don't usually read GAA books but I made an exception for Keith Duggan's wonderful 'House of Pain'.
Hand on heart, I shed a few tears when I read about their heartbreaking misses. I would dearly love Mayo to win an All-Ireland. But can they?
I cannot think of a worse accolade than being nominated as one of the greatest GAA players never to win an All-Ireland.
It is no different with teams – be it the greatest side never to win the World Cup or the greatest never to win an All-Ireland.
In recent years this Mayo team has been touted as the greatest team never to win an All-Ireland.
Let's be clear – great teams win All-Ireland titles. So, by definition, this Mayo team isn't, or never has been, great.
What they have done is achieve a high level of consistency over a sustained period, though it's only fair to acknowledge that they have been incredibly unlucky as well.
Remember the 1996 drawn All-Ireland final, when Meath's Colm Coyle scored the equalising point with a Hail Mary kick that bounced over the bar?
Then, there was the infamous All-Ireland semi-final against Kerry in 2014 when two key players, Cillian O'Connor and Aidan O'Shea, missed chunks of the game after accidentally colliding with each other – and the referee didn't do them any favours that day either.
And, of course, the 'daddy' of them all: conceding two own goals in the first half of the drawn 2016 All-Ireland final.
Unfortunately for Mayo, All-Ireland titles are not handed out on the back of sentiment or hard luck stories.
They have to be earned, and won, on the field of play – and this is where Mayo have consistently fallen down.
So can their 69-year famine end in 2020?
Let's examine why this could be their year.
They are the longest-serving team in Division 1, having played there since 2007. Their never-say-die warrior-like spirit has manifested itself, time and time again, down the years.
Even though this season has gone poorly, we've still seen evidence of their indomitable spirit. They came from behind to snatch a draw against Donegal and a win over Meath and came from way, way behind to almost secure a draw against Kerry.
Newcomers Oisín Mullen and Padraig O'Hora have established themselves as credible contenders for defensive spots, while Matthew Ruane, James Carr, Fionn McDonagh, James McCormack and the O'Donoghue brothers all look capable of making the summer cut.
James Horan is an experienced manager who has made Mayo difficult to beat, and don't forget he was at the helm when they finally won last year's national title – their first national title since 2001.
But I'm afraid the case against Mayo securing Sam this year is a more plausible one.
They lack marquee forwards who, when on form, are virtually unmarkable.
Think Dublin's Con O'Callaghan, Ciaran Kilkenny or Paul Mannion, Kerry's David Clifford, Sean O'Shea or Paul Geaney; Tyrone's Mattie Donnelly and Cathal McShane and the Donegal duo Michael Murphy and Paddy McBrearty.
And here's proof of that fact. In their ten All-Ireland final appearances since 1996 (including two replays) Mayo have averaged 14.6 points per game and never won any of them.
By contrast, in Dublin's nine final appearances since 2011 – which also includes two replays – they have averaged 17.8 points per game. Dublin never lost any of those games.
The players have failed to accept responsibility for their failings – instead they have pointed the finger at management.
They mutinied to get rid of Pat Holmes and Noel Connelly, while their failure to support Stephen Rochford effectively sealed his fate.
As I have repeatedly written, they need to take a long hard look at themselves in the mirror. They might discover the real reasons why they haven't won an All-Ireland – and it has nothing to do with managers.
There is also their inability to close out key games. I'm at a loss to explain this, but it has happened so often on the big day that it must be more than a coincidence.
Is it a lack of confidence or do they panic when they realise the prize is within their grasp and stop playing?
Their catalogue of missed opportunities reads like a horror story. In the drawn 1996 final against Meath they were six points up in the 45th minute.
They were five points up against Kerry, with five minutes remaining, in the 2014 All-Ireland semi-final.
They got two points ahead of Dublin at the business end of the 2017 final, only to concede three in a row. Then, having drawn level, Cillian O'Connor hit a free off the upright before Dean Rock's free proved the winner.
There has been a decline in their form over the last four-and-a-half seasons. Having won five Connacht titles on the spin between 2011 and 2015, they haven't even reached a provincial final since.
Furthermore, age profile and football mileage suggests that their best years are behind them. Of the team that started against Donegal in the 2012 All-Ireland final, nine are still involved whereas Donegal have only four survivors.
Look at their age profile: David Clarke (36), Keith Higgins (35), Chris Barrett (33), Colm Boyle (33), Seamus O'Shea (33), Tom Parsons (32), Donie Vaughan (31), while Aidan O'Shea, Jason Doherty, Kevin McLoughlin and Rob Hennelly all celebrate their 30th birthday this year.
Though they ended up in last year's All-Ireland semi-final, the 10-point drubbing they endured against Kerry in the Super 8s in Killarney was a carbon copy of the 10-point loss Tyrone suffered at the same venue in the 2012 All-Ireland qualifiers.
Tyrone looked like a side which had come to the end of the road that day and so it proved. I saw a similar tiredness evident in the Mayo performance in Fitzgerald Stadium last year.
Mayo are a team in transition. With Colm Boyle – who was their most influential player last year – likely to miss most of the campaign due to a serious knee injury, the omens are not promising.
Results wise, Mayo struggled this spring though they did use 30 players and gave debuts to seven. But I saw nothing new in terms of tactics.
They still have to settle on a first-choice goalkeeper and their forward failings have been compounded by the absence of an accurate long-range free-taker.
According to Albert Einstein, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.
I'm afraid that's where Mayo are at right now.
So will the famine end in 2020? In short, the answer is no.