TV View: Mayo’s mojo not enough to break the spell of history

‘All you could hope was that the goalie would win that competition Michael Lyster kept advertising for a trip to Abu Dhabi’

Fans celebrate after Dublin's 1-15 to 1-14 win over Mayo in the All-Ireland SFC replay at Croke Park on Saturday, October 1st. Video: Andy Cowan

 

Pat Spillane spoke for 31 counties. “Ah Jesus, I don’t know what to say to Mayo, honestly.”

And what could you say?

1989, 1996, 1997, 2004, 2006, 2012, 2013. And, now, 2016. That’s way too much hurt for anyone to bear.

They haven’t found their All-Ireland-winning mojo since the Taoiseach was five months old, and when Stephen Cluxton raised Sam, poor auld Enda was standing right behind him trying really hard to look impartially euphoric. How did he fare? He lost his deposit.

And you couldn’t even blame The Curse. Before the game, Joe Brolly uttered a line that possibly encapsulated the difference between our Gaelic games and all the others, one that you’d be unlikely to hear from, say, Gary Neville:

“I was giving a talk at the novena in Ballintogher in Sligo last night.”

And during this occasion a priest by the name of Fr Vincent declared the curse lifted, so Mayo were now free to win their first All-Ireland since 1951, the congregation rapturously receiving the news.

And just to show how diverse his nights out are, Joe then told the lads that he was also in a Dublin pub with Willie Joe Padden and Anthony Finnerty and when Anthony returned from the toilet his head was wrapped in toilet paper as a salute to Willie Joe’s bonce being mangled in the 1989 semi-final.

Pat Spillane and Colm O’Rourke wore the look of men who lead more timid social lives, Pat especially appalled when Joe commented upon his observation that Dublin played basketball in the drawn game, too much passing and not enough hoofing: “As any young man in Coppers would tell you, there’s a huge difference between a touch and a score.”

Any way, there was lots of late breaking news about team changes, Marty Morrissey tasked with informing Alan Brogan that Bernard Brogan was one of three Dublin players dropped, while Mayo had opted for a goalie change, the assumption being that two or three dodgy kick-outs had cost David Clarke his place.

“I tell you what this change illustrates,” said Joe, “the Mayo management are ruthless now.” Having dubbed the camp celebrity losers before game one, he almost purred at this new found cold-bloodedness. “They’re looking at the statistics, they’re saying those were important kick-outs and they’re obviously rolling with that, they’re saying we can’t afford that today.”

Come full-time, he was crucifying Mayo manager Stephen Rochford for the ruthless change, “it was an inexplicable decision . . . what he was thinking about, no doubt it will haunt him to his dying day.”

(Punditing? A whole lot more comfy than managing).

With those early unreplied-to four points, Dublin looked home and hosed, but rumours of Mayo’s demise . . . all square.

Then we had a pair of black cards that are designed largely to root out cynicism from the game, when the pleading from opponents to the referee to award the black cards to the alleged offenders would suggest black cards have heightened cynicism in the game. Could we have black cards removed from the game? Thanks.

Half-time, the Dubs a point up.

Second half and that penalty and another black card and all you could hope was that the goalie would win that competition Michael Lyster kept advertising for a trip to Abu Dhabi so that he’d get a break from the castigation. The poor lad.

Some time later, Mayo Costello-ized:

1-12 to 1-11. 1-13 to 1-11. 1-14 to 1-11.

Done and dusted?

1-14 to 1-12. 1-14 to 1-13

Hold your horses.

1-15 to 1-13. 1-15 to 1-14.

You’d be breathless.

Mayo free.

“May God be with you, Cillian O’Connor,” said 31 counties as they took to their knees.

But it drifted wide, and the Hill partied like it was 2011, 2013, or 2015.

The final whistle and The Auld Triangle blasted from the speakers. Gawd be with the days you could hear the hum of exhilarated supporters, and the wailing of the defeated.

“It’s pretty much the same old, same old,” said Pat, his heart travelling to Mayo, but he opted to focus on that rarely spotted bird, back-to-back All-Irelands, rather than the Mayo manager choosing a different goalkeeper.

Back out on the pitch, a bunch of fellas in red and green with their hearts in smithereens.

True enough, you just wouldn’t know what to say.

And if you said, ‘there’s always next year’, you deserve a black card.

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