Knock airport bustles as hundreds of Mayo fans return for All-Ireland final

Supporters fly in from number of countries in hope of witnessing a footballing miracle

Mayo fan Niall Moran, who flew from London, at Knock airport. ‘I promised I’d come over if we beat Dublin, so that’s exactly what I did,’ he said.  Photograph: David O’Connor

Mayo fan Niall Moran, who flew from London, at Knock airport. ‘I promised I’d come over if we beat Dublin, so that’s exactly what I did,’ he said. Photograph: David O’Connor

 

The Marian Shrine at Knock has seen many penitents over the years, but it was the nearby Ireland West Airport yesterday that saw the arrival of the largest numbers of people in search of a footballing miracle.

Every seat on every flight into Knock was booked, with hundreds making the journey home from a host of countries to be in Mayo, or, preferably, Croke Park to see Mayo finally end its All-Ireland famine.

It has been like that for much of the week.

Cousins Michael Ginty and Terry Ginty were at the airport to welcome home another family member from London, but the reunion was delayed after that flight was diverted to Shannon Airport due to fog at Knock.

Michael, who is from Massachusetts but whose parents are from Doohoma, arrived into Ireland a few days ago but, like so many others, is still in search of a ticket for the match, which begins at 5pm.

“I don’t currently have one, but I’m working on it. I come over every year for the games, and I’m thinking that this is the time we actually do it. Although, I say that every year,” he told The Irish Times.

Banter

For now, Terry Ginty has faith that a ticket will arrive: “Tickets are lined up, but nothing is confirmed, yet. I come over for every game as well. Even if I don’t have a ticket, I just watch the game in Doohoma because the banter is never as good in London,” he said.

Despite his delayed arrival, Niall Moran from Ballina was still “ecstatic” to be home: “I promised I’d come over if we beat Dublin, so that’s exactly what I did. There’s no sign of a ticket yet, or my mates because they’ve missed their flight from Manchester.”

Stephen Geraghty from Scunthorpe travelled with no expectation of a ticket, but he just wants to watch the game in Ireland, rather than at home: “I’ve family in Belmullet, so that’s where I will be. Besides, I think there will be better craic in the west than the east,” he said.

For Breda Moran, originally from Kiltimagh but now living in Southampton, the trip home is doubly special because of the Covid-19 restrictions: “It’s our first time over in 2½ years, so we wanted to be here for the build-up to the game and visit family.”

Infection rate

Meanwhile, health officials are urging people in Mayo – where the Covid-19 14-day infection rate per 100,000 currently stands at an above average 560.1 – to be cautious about deciding where they will watch the game, given fears that the weekend could become a “super-spreader”.

Mayo-born professor Breda Smyth, Director of Public Health Medicine, Department of Public Health HSE West, said the match “is a special sporting occasion, bringing communities together”.

“Unfortunately, if not controlled, this can turn into events which rapidly increase the number of Covid-19 cases in the community. We encourage everyone to remember to socialise safely – wear a mask in crowded places and keep two metres from people not in your household,” she said.