Novel Dublin-Mayo double bill would be something to savour
Joanne O'Riordan: Too radical a step to put the women’s final on with the men’s?
Mayo’s Cora Staunton celebrates the victory over Cork in the All-Ireland semi-final at Kingspan Breffni Park. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho
Last Saturday’s All-Ireland semi-final win for Mayo will see the women’s team return to Croke Park for the first time in over a decade, while just a few weekends ago the Mayo men dismantled Kerry to qualify for a fourth All Ireland final in this decade alone.
Croke Park will now get to see Cora Staunton, an indisputable legend of Mayo football and a player the county’s fans often wish was born the opposite gender as her firepower would possibly have helped Mayo get over the line sometimes. But, if ifs and buts were candies and nuts we’d all have a merry Christmas.
So now we have Mayo versus Dublin and the week later we have Mayo versus Dublin. Normally I would oppose moving the ladies football final to the same day as the men’s final as normally Cork would have the occasion all to themselves. But now, I can’t help but feel it could be a possible no-brainer for the LGFA and GAA.
Having a Mayo versus Dublin x2 on the same day would, in my opinion, be an amazing thing. You could watch Cora do her thing for one game and watch Andy Moran play some two-touch football just an hour later.
To me, as a sports fan, that is a mouth-watering prospect and something both sets of fans could look forward to. Both counties are being represented, and both counties generally come out in support of their respective county.
You also have the idea that history could be created. Could Dublin men achieve the same great feat of the Kerry team of the 1970s-80s? Could Mayo finally overcome the curse and whatever other mental blocks they have on All Ireland Day?
On the women’s side, you are going to have a different winner for the first time since Cork dominated proceedings in recent memory. Both finals should get the chance to be in a double-header at Croke Park with all fans together shouting for their respective men and women’s team. To use the new TG4 slogan would it bring on many more “Proper Fans”?
This is also something that has cropped up only because the same two teams are contesting both finals which is a rare phenomenon. Questions will be raised on what happens if it’s two completely different teams but Kerry and Derry are contesting the minor final and last time I checked none of the four teams playing in Croke Park on the third Sunday of September are directly related to each other.
As an aside, you will probably have GAA traditionalists reading this wondering about the minors. Galway minors drew a big crowd to watch their final against Cork as, of course, Galway were playing in the seniors, and that’s a fact.
For me, however, I always felt strange watching underage boys probably wilt in the melting pot that is Croke Park and then rue their one chance at glory in their footballing careers for the rest of their lives. But, that’s just me.
Sometimes you get absolutely incredible games filled with all sorts and watching the heroes of the future can also be rewarding for younger fans. But that reward only goes to young boys. What about the girls?
Having a possible triple header is one option or else, dare I say, you reshape the schedules. Everyone deserves to reach their climax and represent their counties in Croke Park on their terms, but why can’t they do it together?
There are many issues I understand to this proposal, but I’m talking here about an ideal world and a hypothetical situation.
A perfect world isn’t possible at the moment, but maybe the GAA and LGFA and Camogie Association should literally and metaphorically get the ball rolling. Maybe egos and greed should be set aside for a while as everyone looks together to the future.
Each team and players have obviously worked extremely hard to get where they are. The fear of one game overshadowing the other is something that would niggle the back of my mind but you have to take chances. In a perfect world this would be the case, but alas this isn’t perfect.
All I can do is urge fans of Dublin and Mayo to not forget about their female counterparts and I hope the “proper fans” are out in force when they eventually meet.