Mayo hearts everywhere in their mouths as Marty puts them into final 10 minutes early
But Horan’s men survive and will dine on final day caviar rather than semi-final sausages
Despite Marty Morrissey’s best efforts to blow their chances with a premature call on Mayo people everywhere to start booking their All-Ireland final tickets, there were Mayo smiles all around Croke Park and beyond yesterday. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho
It was with a whole 10-ish minutes still to go, Mayo having just gone five points clear, that Marty Morrissey declared: “You can book your tickets, Mayo people – because you are coming back to Croke Park!”
According to the 2011 census, there were 130,552 people living in the county, so 130,552 Mayo heads were placed in 261,104 hands as Marty uttered the words, most likely certain it was going to be another one of those heart-smashing days.
It called to mind George Hamilton’s immortal “I might be tempting fate, but I cannot see the Poles scoring . . . oooooh nooooo, they just have!”, not forgetting Kevin Keegan’s “only one team can win this now – and that’s England!” just before Dan Petrescu’s winner for Romania.
It was, after all, a fate-tempting kind of a weekend.
On Saturday, some of us had just put the full-stop on the obituary of the Cork women’s team as Dublin went nine points up in their All-Ireland football quarter-final, live on TG4, the concluding, somewhat poignant line, reading:
“Adieu to the 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011 and 2012 All-Ireland champions, we may never see their like again”.
And with that they scored 1-10 without reply and were in the semi-finals.
Would Tyrone similarly gobble the carrot of temptation dangled in front of their faces by Marty?
Earlier, as a reminder of bygone woes, Colm O’Rourke had saluted the fortitude of the Mayo faithful for winding their way to Croke Park year upon almost year, despite it largely being their “field of horrors rather than field of dreams”, while Tyrone’s very best friend, Joe Brolly, suggested there was a danger Mayo would drown in the “quagmire of Tyrone’s mass defence”.
Still, all three pundits, Pat Spillane being the third of the Musketeers, forecast this would be Mayo’s day, Tyrone, said Pat, “a pale shadow of their former great teams”.
By half-time, the trio’s faces read “holy smokes”, Tyrone a vibrant reflection of their former great teams.
Well, no, not true, but they were a point up, so reports of their demise appeared to be wide of the posts, although Hawk-Eye . . . . no, no, stop.
The second half and Martin Carney wondered what James Horan had said to his lads because there was no stopping them, until Marty intervened and Tyrone stormed back to triumph.
Ah, not so, 261,104 hands dropped from their faces to see green and red-clad fellas dancing about the turf of Croke Park, job done: you can book your tickets, Mayo people.
The panel hailed the victors’ efforts, Brolly devastated by the vanquishing of Tyrone, in no sense at all, Pat almost enthusiastic about the game he had witnessed.
Earlier, at half-time in the minor semi-final, he’d hinted his passion for senior football was ebbing. “I’ve enjoyed it, it’s been nice,” he said. “You love watching innocent, romantic, naive footballers at minor level before they get contaminated by senior coaches masquerading as being innovative and modern and who park the bus.”
If there was a hint of despondency, you’ll find nothing but ecstasy on BT, as demonstrated during Saturday’s Fulham v Arsenal game.
Arsene Wenger is getting dog’s abuse this weather for not going on a spend-o-rama, but his lads looked useful enough against the Cottagers. A few years back, when supporters booed his team after a draw with Middlesbrough, Wenger noted that “if you eat caviar every day it’s difficult to return to sausages”, and it’s hard to argue with that.
Over on Sky’s Soccer Saturday, meanwhile, there was the usual excitement, eg: “Aaaaaaagh, oh my Gaaaaaawd, corner!!”.
But no matter who occupies the Soccer Saturday seats on any given, well, Saturday, it will always be nigh on impossible to top the contributions of the two and only Paul Merson and Matt Le Tissier .
Already this season:
Merson: “I think Southampton will finish above the teams that are well below them.”
Le Tiss: “Who’ll win the Premier League? It’s a toss of a coin between three of them.”
Merse, Le Tiss and Marty, three sides of the same coin, you might say. Although, in all fairness, Marty is caviar to Merse and Le Tiss’s sausages: he got it spot on – Mayo are coming back to Croke Park.