Hunt for All-Ireland tickets is already beginning in Mayo
Banners are even fluttering over the graves of loyal Mayo supporters
Taoiseach and Mayo supporter Enda Kenny (right) is congratulated by Minister for Communications Pat Rabitte at Croke Park yesterday as former taoiseach Bertie Ahern and his brother Maurice look on. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill / The Irish Times
Oh, the giddiness of it all. The Red Hand bloodied. Mayo through to the All Ireland football final.
Now, the hopes of fans turn to the ultimate prize – the Sam Maguire Cup.
From the county’s Atlantic shores to border towns such as Ballaghaderreen and Ballindine, clumps of red and green flags were fluttering last evening.
Between now and All Ireland final day in September those thickets of sticks and cloth will surely become a forest.
As Mayo prepared to take on Tyrone in yesterday’s semi-final, even the dead were being included in the high-octane mix of excitement, hope and celebration.
Banners are fluttering over the graves of loyal Mayo supporters at a number of graveyards throughout the county.
The cemetery colours are a measure of how keenly the absence of the Sam Maguire cup is being felt in a county which last won the All-Ireland final in 1951.
That’s 62 years ago, a mind-boggling chasm for a football mad county which takes pride in the standard of its Gaelic football.
Many of the Mayo faithful who didn’t travel to Croke Park to see the county’s seniors and minors triumph in yesterday’s semi-finals went to their local pub to watch the games on television.
Veteran supporter John Lohan watched the action a crowded Coady’s Bar in Castlebar: “Tyrone, the underdogs, kept a tight leash on us in the first half but we managed to pull away in the second period and won easily enough in the end.”
Hunt for tickets
The disallowed Mayo “goal” in the first half was a big talking point among the Coady pub regulars but they felt the disputed penalty in the second half, which Alan Freeman converted, was sweet justice in the circumstances.
And now the desperate hunt for All-Ireland tickets is already beginning in Mayo.
“One thing’s sure,” predicted Castlebar publican Mick Byrne, “if we do win the All Ireland there’s going to be one hell of a party.”