In a word . . . Mayo
Most people think of Mayonnaise as a thick, creamy dressing made of oil, egg yolk, and either vinegar or lemon juice. It is not. Mayonnaise is a disease.
Symptoms include a virulent optimism immune to repeated crushing defeat. Indeed, it seems to feed off the very intensity of disappointment. It is a malaise of the mind and heart peculiar to green-and-red-clad inhabitants west of the Shannon. And in pubs worldwide this weekend.
Seven times since 1989, Mayo – for it is the county which gives the disease its name – has been within a whisker of getting its hands on the Sam Maguire, only to have it snapped away. Heartbreaking, each time. Such sweet tragedy.
Mayonnaise is a disease which, after the past 65 years, has forced some to conclude that ‘Mayo’ is just another word for hope.
If it is true that a map of the world without Utopia is incomplete, then these days it can be said that an All-Ireland final without Mayo has something missing. Tomorrow, for the fifth time in this millennium – and after taking part in six successive All-Ireland semi-finals – Mayo has yet another chance to get its hands on the cure.
But the big bad Dubs stand in the way. Dragons Connolly, McManamon, Brogan, to the fore. So many dragons there.
Tomorrow, throughout Ireland as well as in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Sydney, Perth, Melbourne, Bali, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Riyad, wherever green and red is worn, they will abandon sanity and succumb to the highly infectious Mayonnaise.
On the third Sunday of so many Septembers, it has been known to be particularly contagious, infecting even those parts of Roscommon and Galway which have acquired a rare but natural immunity to Mayonnaise down the years.
Because everyone loves a trier. And who has tried more than Mayo? And everyone loves an underdog.
So the world has just one message for the Dubs this weekend: “Easy on the Mayo.” Mayo, a 431-year old county in the west of Ireland. From the Irish Mhaigh Eo, meaning “plain of the yew trees”.